Saturday, August 30, 2008

From "Intimations of Immortality"

Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting,
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
From God, who is our home:
Heaven lies about us in our infancy!

William Wordsworth

Friday, August 29, 2008

Being Spared

Today on our way home from errands, rain began to spatter down on the farm-to-market road we were travelling. It was very sudden. I was approaching a line of cars waiting at a stop-light as the rain started, and did my customary slow-down. But with the oil quickly rising out of the asphalt in response to the rain, my slow-down wasn't enough. My car began to skid and the anti-lock brakes kicked in. The kids said, "What's that? Mom, what's that?" and I was concentrating on not hitting the coupe in front of me. I pumped the brakes and forgot to steer into the skid and prayed that we would not hit that vehicle. We came *so* close. So close. But we didn't hit it. We stopped just inches-- it may have been two inches-- it was so close. I was sure we were going to hit. Thankfully, we were spared that.

We had to wait several minutes for the light to change, and as the girls and I discussed rain and tires and what hydroplaning is, I wondered if the person in front of us realized how close she had come to being in a fender-bender? It illustrated to me that sometimes we just don't know what we have been spared.

More Than a Month

We are well into our second month of renewed efforts to stay within budget and attack debt. The new is definitely wearing off! But I am ashamed to need novelty in order to do what is right. I am fighting it! And praying. The written goal thing definitely helps. When I see where we can be in a couple of years if we stay focused, it is easier.

Last pay period we dealt with a car repair; this month it was dental expenses-- cavities, and a bill left over from a crown I had done awhile back that the insurance company wrongly excused us from. They corrected their error. I have had so much dental work done this year that I have gone over the maximum they will pay for me. Help, my mouth is falling apart. :o)

We were able to pay the bill this week, and I thank the Lord for that. We paid cash. We did not put it on payments. It is gone from our life.

Mariel's teeth are ready to begin orthodontic treatment also, and we are saving up money so we can pay cash up front.

We did much better with our grocery money this pay period-- I haven't spent all of it yet. That is one of my mini-goals-- to have money in the grocery envelope even at the end of the pay period.

And we have had some blessings in the form of home equipment this month-- we received a lawn mower and a new (to us) refrigerator!

We have been wondering for the past year when our fridge is going to give up the ghost. The new fridge is the same size, two years younger, has a working icemaker and is free! It was my parents' and they got a new one. We still have to pick it up from them.

The lawn mower came from our next-door neighbor, who moved this week. We had offered to buy it from him, and he came over the other day and gave it to us. He wouldn't accept any money. It is a manual mower (you know, a rotary mower). We also have a mower we borrowed from my dad when ours died a few weeks ago.

I always feel a like a little kid when people do these kind things for us. I feel like as grown-ups, we shouldn't need help. But I guess I need to get over that feeling, because we all need help sometimes.

Update: I forgot to mention that our dishwasher stopped working this week. But ol' Murphy isn't getting us down, because I married a handyman. He repairs things like this for a living, so he pulled my dishwasher out this morning, fixed the problem and is putting it back together. Yay, Mr. Honey!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

We're eating steak tonight...

Triss got her braces off!!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Spunky Sulphur

Mariel found a caterpillar on our nature walk today! She named it Spunky.

We think it is some kind of sulphur caterpillar. We saw several pretty sulphur butterflies in the meadow as we walked, and the species enjoys feeding on cassia plants and flowers. This one was on a kind of cassia called a partridge pea.

Another picture of the host plant:

An interesting fact: if the little sulphur larvae eat the leaves of the cassia, they are green caterpillars. If they eat the flowers, they are yellow.

Mariel brought Spunky home, along with his stalk of cassia, and we fixed him up with a jar. We debated about whether to put the lid on (with proper ventilation, of course) or not, and finally decided to leave the lid off. But when we came home from church this evening, Spunky was on the table, having rather adventurously bridged the gap between the twig of cassia and the jar rim, and slipped off. Thankfully, he is still alive, and the lid is on now.

We read a little on how to take care of caterpillars, and can see that we are going to have to make trips to the meadow every two days. There is not a partridge pea in sight of our house. This site tells us a caterpillar is far more likely to survive in captivity than in the wild:

Remember that if nature is in balance, then every pair of moths will produce only 2 more viable moths in the next generation. So if the female lays 1,000 eggs which hatch into 1,000 caterpillars, only 2 on average will survive to become adult butterflies or moths. So the chances of your caterpillar surviving in the wild are much slimmer than if you rear it carefully in captivity.

Outdoor Challenge: Bees

(See Harmony Art Mom's latest Outdoor Challenge.)

"That buzzing noise means something... If there's a buzzing noise, somebody's making a buzzing noise, and the only reason for making a buzzing noise that I know of is because you're a bee."

We went In Search of Bees this afternoon. We saw a few around a neighbor's lantana bushes, but felt Rather Awkward standing in the culvert by the side of someone's house gazing into the shrubbery, and so we Moved On.

We went to the meadow near our portion of the lake, but for some reason there were not many bees. Lots of ants, a few gnats, but no bees.

"Now, if you have a green balloon, they might think you were only part of the tree and not notice you, and if you have a blue balloon, they might think you were only part of the sky and not notice you, and the question is: which is most likely?"

We didn't have balloons, but Mariel had a straw hat. She stuck some flowers in it and struck a Tree Pose.

Her sisters followed suit.

"You never can tell with bees."

Still nothing. The intrepid nature explorers were getting hot, too.

We decided to head back and complete the next portion of the challenge, which was to sit in the lovely air-conditioned schoolroom and find a picture of a bee online to copy. Ahh.

"I have just been thinking, and I have come to a very important decision. These are the wrong sort of bees. Quite the wrong sort."

(Go here to find out what we did discover.)

(All quotes are from Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin.)

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Homeschool Conference

We are setting up today! We were asked to man the Science Fair booth at one of our state's homeschool conferences.

I see a subtle irony in a Charlotte Mason family manning the Science Fair booth, since it is said that CM method is weak on science.

There shouldn't be any irony, though. CM method emphasizes observation-- a key ingredient in the scientific method.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Moving from Legalism to Submission

I enjoy reading practical Christianity-type books, probably more than I ought. I want to address a misunderstanding that formed in my mind through reading Christian-wife self-help books. I am not going to point the finger at any particular book. I simply want to tell my own journey.

When Mr. Honey and I first got married, I did the bills. I liked it that way because I liked knowing where all the money was. Mr. Honey didn't mind me doing them at all. We talked about big stuff, and if we couldn't come to a meeting of the minds, I let him make the final decisions. I occasionally filed a protest, but still submitted to his thought on the subject. We usually agreed, anyway.

After Triss and Mariel were born, I began reading a lot more of these Christian-wife books, and decided that I was too much in charge at our house. I had read that if I backed off, Mr. Honey would take over-- that he was only letting me be in charge because I was so insistent. We talked about it, and Mr. Honey took over the bills. But eventually, he gave it back to me. I was home all day and able to track spending and make phone calls, and I spent the most money of the two of us anyway. But it didn't sit well with me. I was the wife-- being in charge of the money gave me too much power, I thought. But he didn't feel that way.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.

I resented it for a long time. But finally, the Lord began showing me my error. Mr. Honey and I are one flesh. That means we are like one body.

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh.

I remembered the portions of the New Testament where Paul talks about the church body, with the members being like different parts of the human body.

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

Each part of the body has its job.

For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body.

Mr. Honey is the head. Perhaps I am hands, doing the work once the principles have been established. I am subject to him, but that doesn't mean he has to micromanage. (When Mr. Honey supervises, he prefers to allow liberty as far as the person can handle it.)

I began thinking of kings and lords who had stewards to take care of their treasures-- and wasn't it Joseph who was Pharaoh's right-hand man, so much so that Pharaoh didn't even know what came in and what went out?

Moreover, it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I realized I had not been a faithful steward to Mr. Honey, and I had not shown reverence toward him. In fact, I was beginning to get very disgruntled, which did not help matters. In my energetic and opinionated efforts to 'do it right', I had instead done it wrong. I had clung to a construct instead of living faithfully.

Now I am trying to get it right-- doing budgets and banking and learning to use Excel spreadsheets for money management. Mr. Honey is free to do his work and trust me to manage in the way that he would like. We have many discussions about money, not always fun, but necessary. And he leaves me to present the budget and pay bills each month. I am the part of the body that does the bookkeeping. He is the part of the body that okays or vetoes decisions.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; and walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

(All scriptures were taken from Ephesians and 1 Corinthians.)

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Food Thoughts

It really is not necessary to buy four boxes of Rice Krispie treats, four packages of Keebler cookies and eight boxes of cereal (four Special K and four Raisin Bran/Crunch) in order to save money. I did this.

I did have a use for the cookies-- dessert for a dinner we were going to. And the family really enjoyed the cereal, but we went through more milk than usual, which is expensive.

The Special K with freeze-dried strawberries is pretty good. And the Rice Krispie treats were a hit with the kids at church (until they were trumped by the Queen's Ring Pops. ;o)

I am getting a $10 rebate. I paid around .75 for each box, if I am remembering correctly, between the discounts at Kroger and Walgreens and the rebate.

I actually had clipped what I wanted and set these particular coupons, unclipped, next to the trash, following my new 'clip only what you would normally buy' policy, but then I saw what great deals I could get. I remembered the invite to dinner, and how seldom I bring dessert for church lunch, and how hard it has been lately to get up early *and* make breakfast.

The DHM has written a great post at Frugal Hacks on how spending money is not saving it, which I was so glad to read. Triss and I especially enjoyed the commenter who remembered the saying about the elephants and the quarter. (Two elephants for a quarter is a good deal if you have a quarter and you need two elephants-- otherwise it is an outstanding debt and a backyard full of elephant dung.) I sometimes fall directly into the trap of marketers and retail games. You really can save money with coupons, though, if you are careful.

(Updated to add: I have to tell the great deal we got at CVS this week. Mr. Honey and Cornflower both needed prescriptions and I had two coupons for $30 gift cards for prescription transfers. I was able to transfer both prescriptions and received the gift cards. I used one of the gift cards to pay for the second prescription, and then purchased a month's worth of Tresemme shampoo and conditioner for the girls and I. We have a lot of hair at our house, and are trying to stay away from parabens. Tresemme was on sale at CVS this week, and is the only inexpensive shampoo/conditioner I have found so far that does not contain parabens. And I still have more than half the second gift card left. So this deal turned out better than my frivolity with the Kelloggs products.)

We received a little cash for our anniversary, and after an nice, inexpensive meal at PeiWei, we spent the rest on meat, cheese and other protein sources. We tend toward hypoglycemia at our house, and have been eating a *lot* of beans. No one else has complained at all, but I am heartily sick of pintos.

So now we have meat for a month. Yay! I am not making meat meals every night, but it is nice to know it is in the freezer.


I'm so glad Shawn Johnson received a gold medal, aren't you?

We have been laughing, crying and having philosophical discussions over the ladies' Olympic gymnastics competition. Shawn Johnson has been a bright spot in the performances, and such a great example of perseverence. Well, the whole American team has.

Also, this is so silly, but I just realized that Shawn Johnson reminds me of Triss' American Girl doll. I thought she looked familiar!

Friday, August 15, 2008

Sweet Sixteen

Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely. --Hawkeye (M*A*S*H)

"I love you 'cuz I do." -- Mr. Honey

Today is our sixteenth wedding anniversary, so Mr. Honey and I created an Anniversary Meme:

1. Where did you meet? At a Christmas party for Mr. Honey's work. I came with friends and he came alone. He tried as hard as he could to ask me out without actually asking me out. I am not very astute in such matters, so he finally resorted to recommending that I phone our mutual friend if I needed to get in touch with him. I gave him my phone number.

2. First date? A New Year's Eve party. He called me the day before New Year's Eve to invite me and I said I already had plans. It turned out he was inviting me to the party I was going to! So we went together.

3. First movie? Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

4. First inkling that you were made for one another? During the movie, in the scene when Beauty is attacked by wolves and the Beast saves her, becoming wounded in the process. As the tiny heroine lifted the hulking, unconscious Beast onto the horse, we simultaneously turned to each other and said, "No way would she be able to do that!"

5. Wedding location? Beautiful Niles Canyon in Northern California, at the church I grew up attending.

6. Honeymoon? We took a two week road trip from Northern California to Nashville Tennessee, with stops at Monterey, Disneyland, San Antonio and Memphis (had to see Graceland).

7. First home? Hendersonville, Tennessee, just north of Nashville.

Happy anniversary, Mr. Honey! I know I lead you a hard life sometimes, and I am glad you put up with me. And I love you very, very much.

(Now you-- who wants to play? Please link if you do the meme so we can read your answers.)

Quotes from Vol. 3 Ch. 15 and 16

Quote notes to myself. :O) necessary it is to repeat again and again counsels which are like waves beating against the rock of an accepted system of things.


We need not ask what the girl or boy likes. She very often likes the twaddle of goody-goody story books, he likes condiments, highly-spiced tales of adventure. We are all capable of liking mental food of a poor quality and a titillating nature; and possibly such food is good for us when our minds are in need of an elbow-chair; but our spiritual life is sustained on other stuff, whether we be boys or girls, men or women. By spiritual I mean that which is not corporeal; and which, for convenience sake, we call by various names––the life of thought, the life of feeling, the life of the soul.


You may answer an examination question about the position of the Seychelles and the Comoro Islands without having been anywise nourished by the fact of these island groups existing in such and such latitudes and longitudes; but if you follow Bullen in The Cruise of the Cachelot the names excite that little mental stir which indicates the reception of real knowledge.


Intelligent teachers are well aware of the dry-as-dust character of school books, so they fall back upon the 'oral' lesson, one of whose qualities must be that it is not bookish. Living ideas can be derived only from living minds, and so it occasionally happens that a vital spark is flashed from teacher to pupil. But this occurs only when the subject is one to which the teacher has given original thought. In most cases the oral lesson, or the more advanced lecture, consists of information got up by the teacher from various books, and imparted in language, a little pedantic, or a little commonplace, or a little reading-made-easy in style. At the best, the teacher is not likely to have vital interest in, and, consequently, original thought upon, a wide range of subjects.


What [the student] wants of his teacher is moral and mental discipline, sympathy and direction; and it is better, on the whole, that the training of the pupil should be undertaken by one wise teacher than that he should be passed from hand to hand for this subject and that.


This is how we find [children]––with intelligence more acute, logic more keen, observing powers more alert, moral sensibilities more quick, love and faith and hope more abounding; in fact, in all points like as we are, only more so; but absolutely ignorant of the world and its belongings, of us and our ways, and, above all, of how to control and direct and manifest the infinite possibilities with which they are born.

Knowing that the brain is the physical seat of habit and that conduct and character, alike, are the outcome of the habits we allow; knowing, too, that an inspiring idea initiates a new habit of thought, and hence, a new habit of life; we perceive that the great work of education is to inspire children with vitalising ideas as to every relation of life, every department of knowledge, every subject of thought; and to give deliberate care to the formation of those habits of the good life which are the outcome of vitalising ideas. In this great work we seek and assuredly find the co-operation of the Divine Spirit, whom we recognise, in a sense rather new to modern thought, as the supreme Educator of mankind in things that have been called secular, fully as much as in those that have been called sacred.


[On disciplinary subjects] We by no means reject the familiar staples of education in the school sense, but we prize them even more for the record of intellectual habits they leave in the brain tissue, than for their distinct value in developing certain 'faculties.'


I think we owe it to children to let them dig their knowledge, of whatever subject, for themselves out of the fit book; and this for two reasons: What a child digs for is his own possession; what is poured into his ear, like the idle song of a pleasant singer, floats out as lightly as it came in, and is rarely assimilated. I do not mean to say that the lecture and the oral lesson are without their uses; but these uses are, to give impulse and to order knowledge; and not to convey knowledge, or to afford us that part of our education which comes of fit knowledge, fitly given.


A teacher said of her pupil, "I find it so hard to tell whether she has really grasped a thing or whether she has only got the mechanical hang of it"


The labour of thought is what his book must induce in the child. He must generalise, classify, infer, judge, visualise, discriminate, labour in one way or another, with that capable mind of his, until the substance of his book is assimilated or rejected, according as he shall determine; for the determination rests with him and not with his teacher.


There is much difference between intelligent reading, which the pupil should do in silence, and a mere parrot-like cramming up of contents; and it is not a bad test of education to be able to give the points of a description, the sequence of a series of incidents, the links in a chain of argument, correctly, after a single careful reading.


[Other ways to use books] are to enumerate the statements in a given paragraph or chapter; to analyse a chapter, to divide it into paragraphs under proper headings, to tabulate and classify series; to trace cause to consequence and consequence to cause; to discern character and perceive how character and circumstance interact; to get lessons of life and conduct, or the living knowledge which makes for science, out of books; all this is possible for school boys and girls, and until they have begun to use books for themselves in such ways, they can hardly be said to have begun their education.


The teacher's part is, in the first place, to see what is to be done, to look over the work of the day in advance and see what mental discipline, as well as what vital knowledge, this and that lesson afford; and then to set such questions and such tasks as shall give full scope to his pupil's mental activity.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ignorance Is Not Innocence

One of the lists recently had a terrific discussion thread on about what makes for literary quality, and in the context of that topic, Tim's Mom shared this gem from CM's Volume 5. She shared it in the paraphrase, which she is proofreading-- I am quoting the original. I have emphasized the parts that stood out the most to me:

How many parents see to it that their sons and daughters read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest this one novel Pendennis before they go to college, or otherwise go out into life? It is stupid to disregard such a means of instruction; and yet, judicious parents either 'disapprove of novel reading for their young people' or let them read freely the insipid trash of the circulating library until they are unable to discern the flavour of a good book. 'But,' says a good mother, 'I disapprove of novels for another reason besides that they are a waste of time. I have striven to bring up my family in innocence, and wish to keep them still from that very knowledge of life which novels offer.' There is a good deal to be said for this point of view; but the decisions of life are not simple, and to taboo knowledge is not to secure innocence.

We must remember that ignorance is not innocence, and also that ignorance is the parent of insatiable curiosity. But I do not offer a plea for indiscriminate novel reading. Novels are divisible into two classes––sensational, and, to coin a word, reflectional. Narrations of hairbreadth escapes and bold adventures need not be what I should call sensational novels; but those which appeal, with whatever apparent innocence, to those physical sensations which are the begetters of lust,––the 'his lips met hers,' 'the touch of her hand thrilled him in every nerve' sort of thing which abounds in goody-goody storybooks, set apart in many families for Sunday reading, but the complete absence of which distinguishes our best English novels. To read that a girl has been betrayed by no means affects an innocent mind; but to allow oneself to thrill with the emotions which led to the betrayal is to get into the habit of emotional dram-drinking––a habit as enervating and as vitiating as that of the gin-shop. By the reflectional novel I mean, not that which makes reflections for us, after the manner of a popular lady-writer of the day. He who would save us the trouble of reflection ministers to the intellectual slothfulness which lies at the bottom of the poverty of our thoughts and the meanness of our lives. The reflectional novel is one which, like this of Pendennis, awakens reflection with every page we read; offers in every character and in every situation a criterion by which to try our random thoughts or our careless conduct. If we bear in mind that the obvious reflection proposed to us is as vicious in its way as the sensation suggested, we shall find that this test––the property of arousing reflection––eliminates all flimsy work, and confines us to the books of our great novelists.

This is especially apt for me because our local book club is set to discuss Volume 3 Chapters 15 and 16, on schoolbooks and how to use them. I have only read bits of Volume 5, and this chapter was not one of them!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Oh, Horrors

We borrowed the DVD of Barbie as The Island Princess from the library this week. (Think Shakespeare's The Tempest meets Toys 'r' Us.) At one point the witchy queen tells the Miranda-type heroine (that would be Barbie), "Stop reading those books-- they are filling your head with thoughts!"

Hee hee.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

My Day

I'm still here, just heading into hyper mode before the school year starts. I have been planning lessons, adjusting schedules, trying to picture what our days will look like and how to counteract the inevitable challenges of educating three girls while running a household and a small home business.

When my dad called tonight and asked if I had gotten some things listed on Craigslist, I had to say no, and then realized I couldn't remember what I had done all day. So just for fun, I am posting it here as I remember it (I am not listing everything the kids did because then the post would really be long):

Made breakfast (peanut butter and jelly english muffins) and ate with the girls

Read my daily Bible and prayed (yay! I'm trying to make sure I do this every day.)

Sat with Cornflower for a little while and gave her a list of schoolish things to do. She is getting bored with summer-- her actual words were, "I'm bored with summer. I want to start schoolwork now." No kidding.

Scheduled a dental appointment.

Updated my calendar with violin lesson/recital dates.

Practiced piano.

Sent and answered emails.

Corrected Mariel's math.

Loaded our first term's composer study, artist study, nature study and Shakespeare onto the Homeschool Tracker.

Sent the children to Walgreen's to pick up a dozen eggs and break a five dollar bill so I could pay them their commissions from last week.

Paid the kids their commissions.

Mediated a dispute.

Fixed lunch and ate with the girls (Macaroni and cheese, salad and watermelon, with Polish chocolate for dessert. We have these wonderful next-door neighbors who live in Chicago, but come down to Texas to visit their house every few months. They always give the kids lots of Polish chocolate when they come.)

Made a daily study schedule chart (on the computer) for all of us, and morning and evening routine lists for Mariel and Cornflower, while the kids did their chores.

Inspected the chores.

Cleaned up the schoolroom.

Redid my to-do list. I get about half the list done and then rewrite it.

Fielded a couple of phone calls regarding fall term classes/lessons. Some of the schedule may change.

Taught piano lessons.

Visited with a friend for a few minutes and got to see photos of the gorgeous church she sang in this weekend. :o)

Fixed supper (Grilled chicken sandwiches, salad, beans and watermelon).

And so on. After supper, I reminded Mariel to practice violin, helped her with her scales, messed with the calendar some more, then played piano while the girls danced in the living room. And I got a phone call from this wonderful mom who lives in our neighborhood and would like to exchange babysitting for art lessons. (We would babysit and she would teach art lessons.) We are going to try it out this week. Triss and I read _Emma_ together before she went to bed. Mr. Honey figured out how to connect my computer to the printer again. (Something about Windows Vista not corresponding to the older printer program.) And then he watched Olympics with the sound turned down while Triss listened to me read aloud.

Now I am going to bed. Triss' poetry book (_The Roar on the Other Side_) came today and I am going to skim through it before I go to sleep. Good night!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Husband and Wife

I have been flipping through our copy of the Tightwad Gazette III, looking for ideas to use in the turning around of our financial ship. I came across an article that I remember reading perhaps around nine years ago: "Equity in the Home". It is not an article on interest rates and refinancing, but on how to divide the chores between spouses.

She presents one thought that has stuck with me for almost a week:

Very simply, each spouse must contribute the same number of hours each day to productive activities that directly contribute to the well-being of the household...If your family has one wage-earner, the stay-at-home spouse should expect to work an equal amount of time at home, from the time the wage earner leaves until he or she returns home.

I completely agree with her. I don't think this means the SAHM has to be working her fingers to the bone every second her husband is at work, but yeah, we shouldn't be slouching around.

Do I contribute the same amount of hours working as Mr. Honey? I don't want to divide it down to the last bean-counting, but do I spend enough hours working?

I have to say that my husband is a workhorse. He works hard, he works long hours, and he has a long commute to work. And he does paperwork when he comes home at night. I did work that hard when the kids were smaller, but they are growing up now. They have reached the stage where they are chore-doing assets rather than chore-creating liabilities.

So he is driving all over creation every day, meeting and greeting and delivering and fixing, and coming home and doing paperwork. I am at home every day, planning, cleaning, supervising, correcting, paying bills, driving kids places, fixing dinner, taking care of clothes. But I have three able assistants. I am pretty sure I have the cushier position. (After all, I can stop down in the afternoon and have a snack and write a blog post.)

Amy Dacyzyn points out that "being a stay-at-home parent is a privilege that many working parents desperately want but have yet to achieve." I do not want to forget that. I don't want to get into tit for tat thinking either, but I do want to pull my own weight. I am able to do some things now that I couldn't a few years ago.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Happy Thought

We get to do Bach for twelve whole weeks!!


(I did already know that, but it just sunk in this moment, kwim?)

The Wisdom of the Wise

I am reading about the beginnings of humanism in the 15th and 16th century, and really appreciate uncovering the roots of so many errors in thinking that pervade our world today. But this morning I realized that the root causes of humanism go much deeper than five hundred years into history.

1Cr 1:19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

1Cr 1:20 Where [is] the wise? where [is] the scribe? where [is] the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?

1Cr 1:21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

1Cr 1:22 For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:

1Cr 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

1Cr 1:24 But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.

1Cr 1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Paul wrote these verses around 55 A.D. I have known about them my whole life, but, juxtaposed against my current reading of history, they deepen my understanding that there is nothing new under the sun. Our history of Western Civilization is a parade of ideas that have circulated since the world began.

Monday, August 04, 2008


I don't want to go into too much detail, but would like to praise the Lord a little for His mercy toward us regarding our finances.

I had four last things on our homeschool supply list that I needed to purchase: an algebra book, a book on writing poetry (The Roar on the Other Side), a metronome for Mariel (ours works intermittently), and the next Apologia curriculum for Triss. I had $58 in that bucket, which I figured would just about cover the algebra book alone. I had space in next month's budget for the Apologia, which we don't need until Sept 2, but I wasn't sure what I would do about the other two needs. I looked at the poetry book as less of a necessity, but cringed every time I thought about putting it off, because Triss is doing so well with her poetry.

Tonight, I was able to purchase everything but the Apologia curriculum with that money. Everything. I am still amazed. And it took exactly all of it, isn't that funny?

We also had a pretty tight weekend where food and gas was concerned, but we made it through with prayer and cooperation and a little shuffling of envelopes. I have been praying a lot more now that I am not throwing my hands up and spending money without thinking when we need something. We had a dentist appointment on Thursday and several dental-related expenses fell into my lap that I hadn't counted on. I just sat in the car and prayed, "Lord, I can't wait to see you take care of this, because I know we can't!" (I found out the next day that Mr. Honey, who is in a commission pay structure at work, had a very good month. We should be fine.)

I hope this isn't too much detail. But I want to document the ways the Lord blesses us through this process. I just know the novelty of 'living like no one else' is going to wear off, and I want to place Ebenezers in the blog for us to refer to when we forget about the Lord's past provisions.

Friday, August 01, 2008

Books Read in July

Otto of the Silver Hand by Howard Pyle (finished)

Always Inventing: A Photobiography of Alexander Graham Bell by Tom L. Mathews (finished)

Feng-Shui for the Classroom: 101 Easy-to-Use Ideas by Renee Heiss (finished): This was a book I picked up and read at the library while waiting for Triss. Our schoolroom is in a constant state of disarray (except for the five minutes after we tidy it each day) and I thought I might gain some inspiration from learning a little about feng-shui. I learned how to pronounce it, which was helpful in a nobody-likes-to-look-dumb sort of way. I tend to use the "Hmm... this looks nice here" method of decorating, which is adequate, if a little random. Using colors and themes a la feng shui would give more structure to my decorating decisions. However, the idea of something called chi whooshing around the house pausing to look at things, and the seriousness that a number of people impose on it, was a little hard to focus on.

Shaking Hands with Shakespeare by Allison Shumacher (finished): lots of information on the Bard's plays.

Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis (a reread-- finished)

Teach Yourself Visually: Piano by Mary Sue Taylor (finished): I thought this was a nice resource for finding out what you can do with a piano. She gives the basics of several techniques, talks a lot about chords, explains how to decipher a lead sheet, and gives examples of different musical styles. It would take a lot of dedication and experimentation to actually become proficient at the piano using only this book, but it is a good reference tool for a student.

The Mirror Crack'd by Agatha Christie (finished-- a reread): I do love Miss Marple and her uncanny way of analyzing human nature.

The Tale of Despereaux: Being a Story of a Mouse, A Princess, Some Soup, And a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamillo (finished): How's that for a long, windy title? This is an excellent tale, written at about a 4th to 6th grade level, of an unlikely hero. Rather dark, you know, but good fairy tales have darkness in order to better contrast the light. (She even defines the word, "chiaroscuro", it being the name of a rat in the tale.) This story is supposed to be released as a major motion picture this Christmas. (From the trailer, it looks like the movie will be different from the book, including some of the character development, which aggravates me to no end. I can understand changing some of the nonessentials, but could we please leave the characters alone? Despereaux in the trailer is shown as much more confident than he is in the book. Erg. Part of the charm of the story is that he is an *unlikely* hero. He isn't studying to be a hero! He is drawn to it like a moth to flame. But I digress.)

Fundamentals of Piano Practice by Chuan C. Chang (in progress): I gave this an inspectional reading a year or two ago, but now I am studying through it. A lot of good information. His 'counterintuitive' style of practice is the style I fell into guiltily in my teens, a latchkey kid without a lot of friends, who played piano for a couple of hours every day before mom got home. No one was there to tell me to practice, or what to practice, so I played through things my own way, occasionally getting into trouble from my teacher for not practicing what I was *supposed* to practice (Hanon, etc.). I developed a habit of learning my practice pieces fast so I could get back to my classics or musical theater books. However, I did not discover all the practice methods he writes about in this book-- far from it! I am learning a lot.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory by Michael Miller (in progress): Informative book, unfortunate name. When I brought it home, Triss cried, "Mommy! You're not an idiot!" LOL! I had to explain to the kids that reading books for "Dummies" and "Idiots" does not mean that we are dummies or idiots. These books explain things in simple terms that a person without a lot of experience in the subject area would understand-- they break open the lingo and dispel a bit of mystery. I laughingly told Triss that these books are also for those of us (me) who already know the subject matter, but lack the simple explanations that would open it up to those who don't.

The New World by Winston Churchill (in progress)

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun (in progress-- I've made it through page 59.)

CM's Volume 3 (in progress)

Writing to Learn by Thomas Zinsser (in progress)

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (in progress): I wasn't sure how much I would enjoy this book, but I am really into it now. It is the true story of a man who attempted to climb K2, and on his way back down got lost and stumbled into a tiny Pakistani village. The villagers lovingly cared for him for several weeks while he regained his strength, which was sapped almost to death by his exertions. As he recovered and got to know the people, he was seized with an immense desire to provide the village with a school for the children. Greg Mortenson, called Dr. Greg by the villagers because of his medical skill (he is a nurse), went back to northern California and began the difficult task of finding money to build the school. After finally being given money for the construction supplies and saving up enough of his own money for a return trip to Pakistan-- rigorous enough challenges-- he underwent cultural, political and geographical difficulties getting back to the village. And then found out that he could not get the supplies to the village because the bridge was inadequate. He went home, raised more money, and came back. And he and the villagers built the bridge. That's where I am in the book. Dr. Greg appears to be an ordinary man with an extraordinary spirit.