Saturday, January 31, 2009

Carolina Wren

We identified it with the help of some friends!

Friday, January 30, 2009


Mariel and I were at it again with our cameras today. As she skipped back and forth from her writing assignment to the window to catch another shot, she bubbled, "Oh, this is so fun!"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

This Post is for the Birds

Mariel has been trying to attract birds to our front yard with bird seed for the last two and a half weeks, and I have been helping her. There are more birds in Texas in the fall and winter than at any other time of the year, but they didn't seem to want to come to our boring suburban-type yard. However, after much patience and a little discouragement, we finally had some takers in the bird seed department.


Ice covered the ground yesterday morning, and we realized that the birds would be looking for alternate sources of food since everything was frozen. We scattered seeds all over the front lawn and walkway. (Well, we actually had Triss scatter the seeds. Mariel and I were both indisposed-- er, I mean, in our jammies-- at the time the idea occurred, and we wanted to get the seed out there as quickly as possible.)

(Please note that the dates on the photos are incorrect. We need to reset the date stamp. All the date stamped photos were taken by Mariel. There are a couple at the end-- without date stamps-- that I took.)


And they accepted our invitation. Yay!

They were mostly sparrows-- song sparrows, house sparrows and one rufous-crowned sparrow. There was a bright red cardinal for one brilliant moment-- but he was off before we could snap a picture. There aren't enough treed areas on our street, really.

This morning we had a mourning dove as well as our little sparrow visitors, and a sprightly little chap we had seen the day before but could not identify.


He enjoyed going up and down the trunk of our elm tree,


(some of these are blurry, but we haven't quite gotten the hang of taking photos through windows)


and hopping from branch to branch.


And he really liked our nest. We think he must be a willow warbler. Or a wren, maybe? I don't think a wren would enjoy our wide-open street, though. It almost looks like a nuthatch in some of the previous pictures, but the tail is a little long. What do you think?

UPdate: Here is a pic of the Carolina Wren. Look at the coloring and white eye stripe. I think this is our bird!


Look at him poking around! He acts like a prospective homebuyer.

Warblers (and wrens) eat insects, mainly, but we saw this little guy get after a couple of black oil sunflower seeds on the grass this afternoon. Just once or twice. He was extremely interested in what the tree had to offer, but insects are rather hard to find in freezing weather.


I'm not sure what to call this bird. When I took the photo, I was fully convinced it was the warbler (or wren). I had been following the warbler (or wren) with my camera all over the tree and snapped this picture. Doesn't this bird look different, though? That yellow on the throat is very pronounced, the shape of the head and tail are different, and even the coloring is different. The more I stare at this picture the more I wonder how I could ever have thought this bird was the little warbler/wren. I think this might be a female goldfinch. What do you think?


We gave Mariel her own digital camera for Christmas this year. She and I must have presented a sight, each glued to one of the front windows, snapping away.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


(Photo by Cornflower)

It is 16' outside this morning.

Telling on Myself

The other day I was sitting in Triss' chair for a moment, resting my laptop on my lap and waiting for a document to print on the printer above her computer. As I waited, I glanced idly at the Word document she had pulled up. She likes writing stories, and writes a lot. This is what I read:

Miserably doubting, they went down and saw that the photographs were where they had put them, in between the pages of the "History of Arden."

"I don't see what we can do. Do you?" said Edred forlornly. It was a miserable ending to the happenings that had succeeded each other in such a lively procession ever since they had been at Arden. It seemed as though a door had been shut in their faces, and "Not any more," written in very plain letters across the chapter of their adventures.

"I wish we could find the witch again," said Elfrida, "but she said she couldn't come into these times more than once."

"I wonder why," said Edred, kicking his boots miserably against the leg of the table on which he sat. "That Dicky chap must have been here pretty often, to have an address at New Cross. I say, suppose we wrote to him. It would be something to do."

I put on my editor's cap as I read, and, thinking the passage could be improved, said, "Triss, did you realize you used a form of the word 'miserable' three times right here?"

"Mommy!" she said, "That's House of Arden by E. Nesbit!"

Well. I felt sheepish. I remembered that awhile back Triss had transferred the online text of the book to Word so she could read it offline. I had been critiquing the writing of a renowned children's author instead of my 14-year-old daughter's.

You'd think I would have realized it was House of Arden because of the mention of Arden. But I had assumed Triss had thrown that in because she admired E. Nesbit. Obviously, I've never read it.

This is something for me to ponder as I begin critiquing the children's science fair project reports. Perhaps I set the bar too high sometimes. Or perhaps I don't always understand the effect the author is going for.

Monday, January 26, 2009


We had some great news today-- Mariel's wrist is not broken! It appears that the ER doc overdiagnosed (I don't know if that is the right word for it) her injury, possibly as a precaution (according to our regular doctor). Our regular doctor showed us the new x-rays he ordered done on Friday. She has been released from the splint and sling, as tolerated.

On our way home from the doctor we got a cake mix to celebrate.

When Triss saw the cake mix, she said, "Yay! We can make a Normal Day Cake!"

I laughed a little at that, because I don't feel like today is normal. Cornflower woke up this morning with a fever; I rushed Triss' registration papers and research plan to the local college for the regional science fair after finding out the deadline had just passed (I won't even tell you what I'm pretty sure I saw while on campus, and I hope I was mistaken); I was late picking up Mariel from her violin lesson; the van overheated several times on the way home (we stopped at a gas station and a kind police officer happened to be on hand to put coolant in it, an unexpected mercy... and the coolant promptly drained onto the ground); Triss had to miss her algebra class; I had to borrow a vehicle (Thanks, Jean!) to get Mariel to the doctor; and I had the van towed to a repair shop.

And my dad left for Africa. That doesn't happen every day. Mariel asked all day if he was on the plane yet.

But, wait. Today is a Normal Day-- one of the many varieties. Cindy at Dominion Family wrote an amazing post once about days like these-- the days in which we are confronted with sickness and health, joy and sorrow, sin and mercy and redemption. I wish I could find the link for you, but I looked and looked and couldn't find it. (I remember it ended with "Do the next thing." Exactly.)

The Queen has been through a lot in the last year and tells us that this kind of day, despite the bumps, is beautiful, and is a gift. (Thank you. I do enjoy grousing like Eeyore, and need reminding that each day is given and will never come again.)

After catching up on a little schoolwork (she didn't miss any on her long division test, yay!) Mariel got to work on her cake. She decided to make it a bundt cake, which is so pretty. I broke it as I took it out of the pan, but we decided that was okay because it is a Normal Day Cake and not a cake for a birthday or a wedding. We don't mind eating broken cake with frosting.

So Happy Feverish-Registration-Running-Late-Coolant-Draining-Van-Towing-Wrist-Healing-Journey-Beginning-Normal Day to one and all-- and especially to Sister Lynn!

With love from us.

Singing School Songbook: "I Am Singing"

1. At my work I'm always singing,
Though the days be cold and long,
For my heart's so full of music
That I cannot stop my song.


I am singing, (yes, I'm singing)
I am singing,
Though the days be cold and long (and long)
For my heart's so full of music
That I cannot stop my song.

2. I am singing in the sunshine,
Though the sky is dull and gray;
I am singing of the flowers
All the chilly winter day.

3. I am singing of the garden--
Of the roses there in bloom--
Of a thousand things in nature,
'Mid the winter's sullen gloom.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Genesis Chapter 50

Joseph was so gracious. At his father's death, when his brothers' guilty consciences prick them again and they, not understanding the nature of Joseph's forgiveness, make up a story of how Jacob had told them to tell Joseph not to punish his brothers for their sins after his death, Joseph weeps for their heavy burden. I can just imagine him thinking, "They are still not past that."

Joseph demonstrates his love and kindness for them, in the face of all they have done, and seeing that they still carry the guilt of their sin, by saying:

"Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones." And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.

This is years after Joseph's family came to Egypt, and his brothers are still ridden with fear. Joseph has moved past his earlier trials and can even see a good that came of them.

Joseph's compassion is beautiful. I would probably have said something like, "Are you still on that old theme? Just stop bringing it up, okay? It's done with. Yes, you did wrong. Yes, you deserved justice and received mercy. Deal with it." But Joseph's brothers, instead of thanking the Lord that He dealt mercifully with them, are still looking around wondering when the knife will fall. They just can't be comforted. There is something missing from their view of life. I think it must be a close walk with the Lord. They are still trying to grasp their assurance of safety on their own, are still trying to save themselves rather than trusting the Lord.

Joseph's continuing demonstration of love for his brothers is a good example to follow. He is so patient with them as they keep bringing this up, perhaps understanding the nature of their torment. He even weeps over it every time it manifests itself in their actions. But Joseph was a very tenderhearted guy, I think. A little arrogant as a youngster, but what a good heart he had.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

A Week's Menu, and an Alsatian Vegetable Soup Recipe

1. Hearty Chicken Strata (adjusted down for five people)

2. Cheeseburger Casserole from the Saving Dinner Cookbook (p. 42)

3. Bowties and Broccoli (with some changes-- penne instead of bowties, and mozzarella instead of parmesan)

4. Chicken Enchiladas (I'm going to improvise this with chicken breast, Ro-tel and colby-jack cheese.)

5. Grandma's Slow Cooker Vegetarian Chili with some variations

6. Caribbean Rice and Beans from the More with Less Cookbook (p. 103)

7. Alsatian Vegetable Soup, a recipe I got from my sister-in-law the first year of my marriage. Here is the recipe:

Alsatian Vegetable Soup
(makes about 6 cups)

4 T. butter
1 green onion, chopped (optional)
1/2 lb sliced mushrooms
2 medium turnips, peeled and diced
1/8 t. marjoram leaves
1/3 cup milk
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup sliced celery
1 medium potato, peeled and diced
2-14 oz cans chicken broth
2 t. lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste
parsley or chives
sour cream (optional, but we love it)

1. In a 3-quart pan over medium heat, melt butter.

2. Add onion, green onion, celery, mushrooms; cook till onion is soft.

3. Remove and set aside about half the mushroom mixture.

4. Add potato, turnips, broth and marjoram.

5. Bring mixture to a boil; cover, reduce heat and simmer until turnips are very soft (about 20 minutes).

6. Puree mixture in a blender or food processor and return to pan. Caution is needed for this step-- do not fill the blender or food processor more than halfway, and keep your hands on the thing while pureeing, because hot soup sometimes causes the lid of the appliance to pop off. Ask me how I know. It is not fun to clean pureed soup off the ceiling. ;o)

7. Stir in lemon juice, reserved mushrooms, and milk. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Heat through. Garnish with parsley or chives and sour cream.

And in case anyone else wonders about words like I do, things that are "Alsatian" come from a place on the border of France and Germany: Alsace. The ruling of this region was the subject of a hot contest between France and Germany for many centuries, from the Dark Ages (before France and Germany were actually called France and Germany) through WWII. The beleagured people of Alsace once actually declared themselves a republic, they were so tired of being used as pawns in wars between Germany (originally Prussia, and for a time known as the Holy Roman Empire) and France. Both the French and Germans imposed their own languages onto the people of Alsace, who actually have a language of their own, Alsatian. Isn't that interesting? It's just a little place, but the people have a strong regional identity. And they make yummy soup.

Betcha didn't realize you were going to get a geography lesson. ;o)

Friday, January 23, 2009

Generation to Generation by Antoine de Saint Exupery

In a house which becomes a home,
One hands down and anohter takes up
The heritage of mind and heart,
Laughter and tears, musings and deeds.
Love, like a carefully loaded ship,
Crosses the gulf between the generations.
Therefore, we do not neglect the ceremonies
Of our passage: when we wed, when we die,
And when we are blessed with child;
When we depart and when we return;
When we plant and when we harvest.
Let us bring up our children. It is not
The place of some official to hand to them
Their heritage.
If others impart to our children our knowledge
And ideals, they will lose all of us that is
Wordless and full of wonder.
Let us build memories in our children,
Lest they drag out joyless lives,
Lest they allow treasures to be lost because
They have not been given the keys.
We live, not by things, but by the meanings
Of things. It is needful to transmit the passwords
From generation to generation.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Six Months: God is Good

Remember how I said last month that I had a sense of abundance where finances were concerned, in spite of scary job news and large van repair expenses? Well, we spent more optimistically than we probably should have, so there were a couple of worrisome moments when I thought we might have a problem. Things worked out, though.

(Previous personal finance posts here.)

Our fiscal month starts on the 20th and ends on the 19th, so the past month included our final spending before Christmas. It was difficult, being busy and getting things finished up for the holiday, to stay within limits. For one thing, I didn't get cash for the envelopes when Mr. Honey's commission check hit, and so I was using the debit card and thinking I would keep a tally in my head.

(There are a lot of things floating around in my head. Just the other day, I was trying to focus on the song service in church while my mind insisted on thinking through an article on habit formation. I would marshall my mind and get back to thinking about Jesus' love and mercy toward us, and ideas about guiding children would pop into the middle of it. An undisciplined mind is a terrible thing.)

Anyway, the cash system is a good system because it is solid. There is no doubt that you have reached the end of the grocery budget when there are no more dollars in the envelope. Needless to say, using my check card, I spent more dollars than I would have using cash, and caused myself the headache of additional reconciliation of the checking account.

In a related situation, while Christmas shopping, I spent from the checking account without first transferring gift money from short-term savings to checking. I thought I would transfer the money later, but I got busy. And forgot. We nearly had a big 'oops', but Mr. Honey was able to make a transfer for me just in time.

Thankfully, we never had an overdrawn moment. We did, however, go a little overbudget in our spending and have to rearrange things.

If you have been following our financial journey, you will remember that Mr. Honey got the word from the boss that he needed to sell, sell, sell if he wanted to keep his job come February. He has been under a lot of stress and strain, and has been working almost constantly. The week before Christmas, he made a sale that put him over the top! Calloo, callay!! So his job is a little safer than it was a month ago. Last week, the company laid off 1000 people internationally, and Mr. Honey was *not* one of them. (Some of the folks that *were* laid off could ill afford it, though. Who can afford to be laid off, anyway?) This was the first time Mr. Honey's company has had a mass layoff. They didn't even do that during the Great Depression.

The week before Christmas, Mr. Honey expressed frustration with his phone. He had $50 from a Craigslist sale that he was saving for something else, but he decided to put it on a new phone instead. He listed a couple of other things on Craigslist to make up the difference between what the phone cost and his $50, and we decided for him to go ahead and get the phone and we would cover the cost using money from another bucket until the items sold. However, purchasing the new phone ended up costing more than we thought it would. Those telecom companies get you coming and going. (They also told Mr. Honey he would have a $50 credit for all the hassle he has gone through with his phone-- then later I found out that credit will be applied *at some point* to our phone bill, not directly to the purchase of a new phone. And then when we received the bill, it was over $100 more than it should have been and he had to spend a good forty-five minutes letting them know that they had put one of our phones on the wrong calling plan. Erg.) But now Mr. Honey has the phone he needs, and Triss has my old phone (I got Mr. Honey's old phone). She is paying the monthly add-on fee ($10) herself.

Mr. Honey's monthly commission paycheck arrived the week before Christmas, and was less than I had planned for it to be. Living on commission is so exciting! I redid the budget for the month, and we ended up only putting a couple hundred dollars into the emergency fund, bringing it up to not quite half the Babystep 1 amount of $1000. (In November we had to use most of the e-fund to fix the van.)

Christmas was joyous and peaceful.

About two weeks into January, Mariel slammed into a metal light pole while running a race with some friends at the park and split her chin open, which required Urgent Care attention. Then, this week, she fell on her wrist while roller skating and fractured the growth plate of her humerus, requiring x-rays, a splint and a sling. We went to a nearby free-standing emergency room for that one. We have spent around $85 on doctors for her so far this month, and $12 on pain medication. She has more doctor visits and possibly a consultation with an orthopedic surgeon upcoming, so our doctor bills will be significantly more than usual this month.

Mr. Honey has been having lots of back problems and has finally found a chiropractor that will work for him. (We pay chiropractors a specialist copay.) He is going to be receiving adjustments a couple times per week for the next month or so, and that will also raise our doctor bills. (He feels awful about this, but I just want him to be free of pain. He sits up late until his eyes won't stay open because his back hurts so much every night. I really hope this chiropractor will be able to help him.)

The Lord has provided for all these doctor bills! Mr. Honey's commission check this week was several hundred dollars more than we were expecting. Great work, Honey!

When I paid the bills last night for the beginning of the new month, I was able to put aside money for the doctors, finish refilling the emergency fund to the Babystep 1 level of $1000, and still pay $300 over the minimums on the credit cards.

The best part of all is that when these needs arose, we are able to take care of them with cash. I know I keep going on about how wonderful it is to just have the cash and take care of it, but we were so foolish for so long that I feel amazing comfort every time I tense up at an unexpected expense and then realize I can relax because we have it covered. I can't tell you how I felt both times Mariel hurt herself, when I realized that I could just comfort her and not have to worry about where the money was coming from. I could even treat her to a small something special as a get-well gift.

The car still needs some repairs and I have that money in the short-term savings account. The kids are due for eye exams and well-child visits, too. I think we'll do those in February, after the dust settles from our recent expenses.

Our monthly clothing budget is $25 per month. I know that is pitifully small for a family with three growing children, but you would not believe the volume of clothing other families give us. (And we love receiving so many nice things! We pass the things we can't use to other families.) Still, the smallness of budget does leave a little to be desired, especially on hard-to-fit items, like jeans. I took some of the extra money from Mr. Honey's commissions this week and purchased Triss two new pair of jeans on sale at Burlington Coat Factory. She really needed them, as she had only one pair of jeans, and those were at least an inch too short.

We also made a purchase from the Erskine family business, Living Books for the Ears, which came out of our school budget. They are discontinuing a lot of their materials in anticipation of the new law from the CPSC, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act. They asked that each order be at least $50, so I spent a little over that and got some wonderful audio books and radio shows, including history stories, Shakespeare and classic literature retold as radio plays. My parents fixed the kids up with mp3 players at Christmas, so my plan is to load these shows and stories onto their players and they can listen whenever they want. We have a few CDs of this type already, and the kids love listening to them.

(I am disgruntled at the poorly worded CPSIA, and get so disgusted with the way the people on Capitol Hill jostle around and grandstand and blame each other when they really need to just *fix* the thing, but that is a post for another day.)

So, it's been six months since we started our new gazelle-like intensity. Our credit card balance has gone down around $5,500 since July, an average of almost $1000 paid off per month. At the beginning of the process, we couldn't see how we would be able to pay more than maybe $100 over minimums each month, but God has been faithful to bless our efforts. We have a little over $11,000 left to pay off, and if we continue the way we have, we will be done with credit cards in thirteen months (or less, given the way the debt snowball works). This is a big improvement over my expectation when we started, which was that it would take us over two years to pay of our credit cards.

After we get those finished, we still have our car note. (Very aggravating paying a car note on a vehicle that has over 100,000 miles and is beginning to fall apart. Please be cautious if you decide to finance a new car. Or just drive a beater until you can pay cash for a late-model, low-mileage used vehicle, like Dave says. Don't do what we did.)

Once we get that finished, it will be on to pay off the house!

I wonder how long it will take?

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

When Options Are Removed

Mariel broke her wrist while roller skating on Sunday afternoon. Monday morning I took her to the doctor and we got to see firsthand the carpals, metacarpals and phalanges we have been studying this year.

(The kids are still making fun of me for exclaiming over how beautifully graceful Mariel's humerus and ulna are. But I never saw an x-ray of her arm before. It just hit me hard that God made her so beautiful on the inside too. Mariel just rolled her eyes and said, "It's creepy, Mom." But this is not what I sat down to write. Ahem.)

As the doctor splinted and wrapped her hand, wrist and arm, I began to realize we were going to have to narrow her activities a bit for the next few weeks. The most obvious was violin and piano. (She already missed one violin lesson last week because the *previous* week she ran full force into a light pole at the park while racing with some friends, never stuck her hands out, and split her chin open. You hold a violin with your chin. Her chin has barely healed to scar status. We have been to Urgent Care twice in two and a half weeks.)

Boy, I am really getting off on tangents. Anyway, she and I started talking about some of the limits she would have, and I realized This Might Be A Good Thing.

(Bear with me. No, I don't think it's a good thing that she broke a bone. Yes, I do think the most important thing is that it heal properly and that she is comfortable. But right now I am looking at her injury from the perspective of learning.)

She has been developing independence in chores, for instance, which is definitely desirable. But for some time now I have realized a need for more training in certain areas. I have thought that we would take care of that training when things slowed down a bit and I had time to sit with her as she worked.

Funny how you all of a sudden have time when a child can no longer do her own laundry but still requires clean clothes. I have taken over her laundry, and am coaching her on putting it away neatly, since that is the only part she can do at this point.

Another area of habit-training has been in writing narrations. She has gotten good at doing her narrations on her own, but they are often not as detailed or dynamic as I have heard her narrate orally. For awhile I have thought we would sit down and deal specifically with content as I had more time.

But all she can do now is handwritten narrations or oral narrations. So we are going to be honing her relevant-and-orderly-content skill for the next few weeks, and leaving the skill of written communication alone.

And for a long time I have thought that she would enjoy learning to 'comp', to play some improvised chords under a melody on the piano or other instrument. Learning chord progressions is a great thing to work on when you have only one working hand.

Her violin teacher is working music theory, a little music history, and bowing with her, since she will most likely be unable to play for four to six weeks.

There are so many excellent things to learn in this world. I appreciate the freedom that comes of having some options removed and others highlighted.

Of course, this is overshadowed by the pain Mariel is in. I would rather have the necessary options highlighted *without* injury. But we will use whatever circumstance is sent to us for learning. :O)

Monday, January 19, 2009

Singing School Songbook: "Twenty Years Ago"

I got an old Singing School songbook from a friend for Christmas this year. It is named _The Star of Bethlehem_ and was edited by J.H. Hall and J.H. Ruebush. It was published in 1889. I'll upload a couple of pictures later.

There are several sections, called "Departments", to the book, and it contains secular as well as sacred songs. I am going to post lyrics from a song once a week for awhile. Here is the first, from "The Singing School Department":

Twenty Years Ago

1. How wondrous are the changes
Since twenty years ago!
When girls wore woollen dresses;
And boys wore pants of tow;
When shoes were made of cowhide,
And socks from homespun wool,
And children did a half-day's work
Before they went to school.

Chorus: Just twenty years ago,
Just twenty years ago,
The men and the boys
And the girls and the toys,
The work and the play
And the night and the day,
The world and its ways
Are all turned around,
Since twenty years ago.

2. The girls took music lessons
Upon the spinning wheel,
And practiced late and early,
On spindle, swift and reel;
The boys would ride the horse to mill
A dozen miles or so
And hurry off before 'twas day,
Some twenty years ago.

3. The people rode to meeting
In sleds instead of sleighs;
And wagons rode as easy,
As buggies nowadays;
And oxen answered well for teams
Though now they'd be too slow,
For people lived not half so fast,
Some twenty years ago.

4. Oh! well do I remember
That Wilson's patent stove,
That father bought and paid for
In cloth our girls had wove;
And how the neighbors wondered
when we got 'the thing' to go
And said 'twould burst and kill us all
Some twenty years ago.

5. Yes, everything is altered,
I cannot tell the cause,
For men are always tamp'ring
With nature's wondrous laws;
And what on earth we're coming to--
Does anybody know?
For everything has changed so much
Since twenty years ago.

King Arthur Ideas

Here is a website with some ideas for lesson plans on King Arthur. If you are using Ambleside Online, these ideas would go well with Years 5 or 7. I would simplify some things if using the questions/activities for Year 5.

For instance, Mariel just finished reading Pyle's King Arthur. I haven't required her to formally narrate throughout the book, but now that she has finished it, I have given her an exam-type question that I adapted from this website:

Original Question: What are the fundamentals of chivalry as portrayed through the Arthurian Legends, and why was this a relevant social issue during the early middle ages?

Mariel's Question: What makes a knight chivalrous? Give examples.

(I ought to have been able to come up with that question without the help of a website, but sometimes my mind goes blank.)

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Poetic Knowledge by James Taylor: Chapter 1

(I am reading through _Poetic Knowledge_ with Tim's Mom, and plan to blog about each chapter. Of course I jumped in with both feet this week, and did a regular article on the first chapter. I don't know if I will put this much effort into writing about every chapter, but it seemed important to me to really sift through his "Validity of Poetic Knowledge". This book is a big challenge to me, and I'd like to get started with an attempt to acquire an accurate sense of what he means by poetic knowledge.)

“Music is meant to be experienced. I don’t like all this talking about it.”

So said Mariel Thursday morning after an admittedly fact-heavy composer study—it was our second lesson on Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 1, and Triss and I had become absorbed in discovering and writing down tidbits such as the date of composition, what kinds of instruments were in the orchestra, and the name of the conductor at the first performance of the piece, much to Mariel’s consternation. We had the piece playing in the background, and that may have been part of the issue. We were talking over the music.

Mariel was expressing her preference for poetic knowledge, an “essential perception about the human being, about the world, and how we learn about our world,” that too often gets “dumped from the modern educational experience.”* In contrast with most modern educational efforts, poetic knowledge is whole, intuitive and perceptive.

In the first chapter of his book, _Poetic Knowledge_, James Taylor states that the poetic experience is “knowledge from the inside out,” or knowing a thing rather than simply knowing about it. It is a non-analytical, spontaneous awareness that awakens a sense of significance of the thing experienced. As Job stated after the Lord answered his questions with a head-on experience, “I have heard of thee by the hearing of the ear: but now mine eye seeth thee.” Such knowledge is whole and integrated, less calculated and mechanical; it often comes on with surprise, as an “a-ha” moment. I doubt anyone could meet with such a learning moment as Job did and take it with an analytical head, coolly dissecting it to bits to figure out everything about the Lord. Some things are meant to be experienced wholly.

I wonder how Job explained his newfound knowledge of the Lord to his friends afterward? Such a wonderful experience would be very difficult to convey in words. Antoine de Saint-Exupery expressed the intuitive nature of some knowledge in his poem, “Generation to Generation”:

If others impart to our children our knowledge
And ideals, they will lose all of us that is
Wordless and full of wonder.

Poetic knowledge, then, is sympathy with the unknowable. Mr. Taylor informs us that his definition of intuition is not “a hunch”, but “the kind of intellectual sympathy by which one places oneself within the object in order to coincide with what is unique in it and consequently inexpressible.”

A few years back a fellow homeschooler talked to me with concern over whether her children should be allowed to read the Chronicles of Narnia books by C.S. Lewis. I tried to communicate the solid sense of godliness I got from the series, which never mentions Christianity or Christ. I ended by saying lamely, “I know there is magic in them, but they are definitely Christian. You have to read them to understand.”

However, I can’t help but think there must be some better way to explain it than my feeble attempts. There is more than one mode of knowing—poetic knowledge is only one of the four which Mr. Taylor introduces in Chapter 1, as defined by one of the professors in the University of Kansas’ Pearson Integrated Humanities Program:

1. Poetic: “truths grasped intuitively, as when you trust another’s love,”

2. Rhetorical: being “persuaded by evidence, but without conclusive proof that we might be wrong, as when we vote for a political candidate,”

3. Dialectical: using two opposing arguments and testing each to reach proof beyond reasonable doubt that one or the other is the right one, and

4. Scientific: “science in the ancient and not the modern sense which is dialectical and rhetorical, but science as *epistemai*-- we reach to absolute certitude as when we know the whole is greater than the part, that motion presupposes agency.”

These modes are different from most modern (and skeptical) schools of thought in that they are founded on first principles: “objective reality impossible to be ‘proved’ by argument because they exist as givens, intuitively known by all”. These were the kinds of knowledge widely accepted before the Renaissance, after which Subjectivism rose into favor and slowly eclipsed belief in absolute truth.

According to Mr. Taylor, “the ancient Greeks considered all education a matter of learning certain arts through imitation—that is, through the poetic impulse to reflect what is already there”. Observation—listening, looking, feeling—is the way to such knowledge. “Poetic experience and knowledge is essentially passive,” says Mr. Taylor. I think what he means here (and I tremble to challenge one of his word choices) is not really passive, but seemingly passive. Giving your full attention to an object is not passive, it only looks that way. As Charlotte Mason stated in her first volume, _Home Education_, “Attention is… the act by which the whole mental force is applied to the subject in hand.” (p. 145) Quite an effort indeed, unless the student has acquired the habit.

But I understand his point: poetic knowledge is perceptive. Listening and looking are the routes to that form of learning. Mr. Taylor refers to Frank Smith’s book, _Insult to Intelligence_, for an example of learning to read in the poetic mode:

One of the leaders in research on how children learn to read, Margaret (Meek) Spencer of London University, says that it is authors who teach children to read. Not just any authors, but the authors of the stories that children love to read, that children often know by heart before they begin to read the story. This prior knowledge or strong expectation of how the story will develop is the key to learning to read, says Professor Spencer.

Not look-say, not phonics, not high-tech aides or methods, but loving a book enough to want to read it over and over. “The child is left alone, undistracted by methods and systems, so that the senses and emotions come naturally into play when being read to, where wonder and delight gradually lead the child’s imagination and memory toward the imitative act of reading.” Is it quantifiable for the teacher or parent? Not for awhile, at least. But is it effective? My, yes. I have often been asked by other parents how to teach reading, and I never can give a satisfactory answer. It is a mystery, I think—a mystery of perception, the parent and child delighting in sharing books until the child is inspired to imitation.

(We have used both phonics and look-say in our home to teach reading, but these aids never eclipsed the joyful reading of books, because I could not give that up, even in my anxiously conscientious efforts to be an excellent teacher. Read good books to your children with joy if you want them to love reading. That’s all I know to say.)

We live in an age that is defined by modern science. Results are wanted, and wanted now. But many times the education we desire for our children is not to be achieved through filling in blanks and checking off lists. It must be experienced in its entirety, from the inside out, perceived, delighted in and gradually reflected back. This is poetic knowledge.

It seems difficult to know if we are on the right track, but is it really? If we are listening and looking ourselves, rather than incessantly demanding "facts" that we can correct and put in the grade book, we may be able to sense, rather than explain, that the children are grasping “all of us that is wordless and full of wonder.”

*All quotes, unless otherwise noted, are from Chapter 1 of _Poetic Knowledge_.

January 17th

I read somewhere that January 17th is Resolution-Breaking Day, or some such thing, three weeks being the average length of time the average American keeps his or her New Year's resolutions.

So, how are your goals for 2009 coming along?

Friday, January 16, 2009

If we were in charge of the English language...

Some new words the kids would add--

philiathetic: a friend in the right place at the right time

telethesis: putting something far away from you

thesis-phobia: fear of taking a position

photothesis: putting light into position

tropothetic: spinning in place

(Their favorite part of studying word roots is making up their own words.)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Some Sketches

"A Frightened Rabbit" by Triss

"Lightning on Sea" by Cornflower

"Battle Scene from Narnia" by Mariel

What the Girls are Reading

Here are the books the girls are reading this term for school. This list excludes any textbooks or workbooks-- for instance, Triss has textbooks and/or workbooks in Latin, Spanish, Math, Grammar and Science. This list contains just the book books. Also, I didn't list books that they were reading and have already finished, or are planning to start reading in the next month. This is a current list. And the books are read slowly, over a period of months. (Some of the books are read over a period of years.) I put an asterisk by the books I am reading with them.


*Burgess Animal Book
*Pagoo by Holling C. Holling
*The Little Duke by Charlotte Yonge
*Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (actually, Triss is reading this with her)
*Our Island Story (history of England) by H.E. Marshall (She is reading the Middle Ages right now, so we have only done one chapter in her U.S. history book, and will do one more before the end of the school year. She will begin her U.S. history book in earnest next fall. She has read or had read to her several biographies of famous Americans in the past two years.)
*Child's History of the World by V.M. Hillyer

Mariel (She is doing a almost all of her reading on her own. The books I marked with asterisks are books I read with her sometimes, except the character study, which we are completing entirely together.):

This Country of Ours (U.S. History) by H.E. Marshall
*The Story of King Arthur and His Knights by Howard Pyle
*Isaac Newton by Harry Sootin
A Passion for the Impossible by Miriam Huffman Rockness
Abraham Lincoln's World by Genevieve Foster
Book of Marvels (Orient) by Richard Halliburton
Age of Fable by Bulfinch
*A Girl of Beauty (character study) by Carol Fiddler


*Utopia by Sir Thomas More
The Voyage of the Armada by David Howarth
*The New World by Winston Churchill
The Life of Dr. Donne by Izaak Walton
*Ourselves (self-government) by Charlotte Mason
Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis
The poetry of John Donne
*How to Read a Book by Mortimer Adler
*From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun (For the record, I thought this was too much, but she really wanted to read it, so we are reading it aloud together)
English Literature for Boys and Girls by H.E. Marshall
Discovery of Muscovy by Richard Hakluyt
Diary of Samuel Pepys (edited)

Books we are all reading together:

Pilgrims Progress
Old Testament (2 Kings and 2 Chronicles currently, with a prophet thrown in every so often)
New Testament (Gospel of Luke)
Love's Labours Lost by William Shakespeare
The poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (although I am thinking of switching to Eugene Field and letting Mariel read more of the longer Longfellow poems on her own. She has already read "Hiawatha," "The Courtship of Miles Standish," and "Evangeline". She loves Longfellow.)
The Life of Theseus by Plutarch

And because I love reading and am a glutton for punishment, I am currently reading:

The One Year Bible (KJV)
Seeking the Face of God by Gary L. Thomas
Poetic Knowledge by James S. Taylor
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
College-Prep Homeschooling by David P. Byers, Ph.D. and Chandra Byers (I have only skimmed this one, but it's high on my list.)
Assorted Parent's Review Articles (This is for our mom's book club-- our current assignment is Repressed Initiative in Children, Parts 1 and 2. For Javamom: I am very excited about this topic, and no, I haven't started it yet. ;o) I'm finishing up a narration of the first chapter of Poetic Knowledge right now, but I hope to have it at least skimmed through by tomorrow afternoon.)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Religion and Politics

I have heard that in some debating clubs there is a rule that the members may discuss anything except religion and politics. I cannot imagine what they do discuss; but it is quite evident that they have ruled out the only two subjects which are either important or amusing.

--G.K. Chesterton

Menu for the Week: More With Less Edition

Most of the ideas for this week came from the _More With Less Cookbook_, a classic put out by the Mennonite Central Committee. I highly recommend the cookbook. The author's purpose is to provide ideas and recipes for living lightly through food choice and preparation, and conserving more resources for charitable purposes-- thoughtful reading, as well as a nice source for multi-ethnic recipes. I am interspersing my plans with favorite quotes.

(Note: Ham and pork have been very inexpensive the last couple of weeks-- $1.49 or less per pound-- so there is more pork in our menu this week than we normally eat. Also, I apologize for using so many ellipses in the quotes. This was due to a desire to keep the post somewhat short and the menu list more visible.)

An empty sack cannot stand up. A starving belly doesn't listen to explanations. --Creole proverb

1. Basic Baked Beans (p. 99), Rice Pudding (p. 268)and salad

We work hard to make eating more exciting. We satiate our taste buds and stomachs. But something in us is not satisfied. We have gotten less with more.

2. Newfoundland Boiled Dinner (p. 141)

Too many of our meals are tasting parties.

3. New Potatoes and Peas with Ham (p. 140)

Traditional cooking can be quite responsible, as long as we recognize that most of us need fewer calories than did our ancestors... Now more than ever we should affirm the best of old eating habits. They would take us back to meals of mush and milk more often than we suspect.

4. Shake 'n' Bake Pork Chops (this recipe is from the _Whole Foods for the Whole Family_ cookbook, p. 245)

Recipes are not sacred canon. They exist only to lure us into the kitchen.

5. Chicken Pie (p. 181)

Eating with joy is eating together... but the word entertaining has crept into our guest-meal vocabulary. Mennonites used to just "have you over for dinner". Now people speak as though they are about to stage a show.

6. Lasagna (this is a simple thrown-together version I learned when I was first married)

What does more with less mean in a guest meal? We want more real meeting of persons, more warmth, more relaxation to enjoy guests... focus on one nutritious, cheap, but interesting dish.

6. Creamed Chicken (p. 186)

Gather up the fragments.

The way of the wicked He turneth upside down.

I tend to get irritated whenever I read the account of Rebekah and Jacob tricking Isaac into giving Jacob the blessing. The Lord said that the elder would serve the younger, and I am sure He would have fixed things in an aboveboard way if those two hadn't been so conniving.

(Isn't it easy to sit back and criticize? I have a very hard time waiting for the Lord's time on certain things, and cannot say for sure that I would have been any better than Rebekah.)

As I read this morning, I was struck with the way God keeps His promises, and continues His good work, even if the people He is using really mess up. The Lord had a bigger plan than one son being ahead of the other where power was concerned-- His purpose spanned further than any of these human beings could envision, and His will was done, and continues to be done. And how consistent He is! I might have decided that their ill behavior was a good reason for him to break his promises to Abraham and Isaac, but not the Lord. He continued faithful in His promises to make a great nation, and for Jacob to be the head of it.

The Lord is not handicapped or hindered by anyone's actions. He knows what He is doing, even when we cannot understand His purpose. He can and will work around and through the mess people make of things, continuing consistently toward His goals.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul.

While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being.

Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help.

His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God:

Which made heaven, and earth, the sea, and all that therein is: which keepeth truth for ever:

Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners:

The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous:

The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down.

The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Basil Chicken with Zucchini and Tomato

I made this chicken dish for supper tonight. It was delicious! It is also low in salt for those of you looking for low-sodium recipes.

(I am fascinated with entering ingredients on Supercook and Allrecipes, and watching what the search engines come up with. It's a lot of fun.

I need to make a menu for the rest of the week, but I think I'll do that later.

Well, she doesn't post very often...

Triss posted again. Just thought you'd like to know.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Books, Books, Books, Books

I read The Time Machine for the first time this weekend. (Weird, really weird, and interesting to contemplate the views of a late 19th century author on progress. And obviously, based on the theory of Evolution. In a bizarre way, it also fell in with mine and Triss' current reading of Utopia by Sir Thomas More, which was written in the early 1500s and is an odd book in and of itself.)

I also read Jahanara: Princess of Princesses, India, 1627, on the recommendation of Triss, who was fascinated at the look at a different culture. (I think The Royal Diaries series is helpful for getting a little bit of girl's-view on history. We turned to these last year when Triss came to me-- it was in the midst of her study of the Middle Ages-- and said, "I want to read some history that is not about fighting, please!" One caution: they delve into mature themes at times, so be careful about letting your younger girls read them.)

And I started reading Oliver Twist again this week. Triss and I started it about three years ago, made it through Chapter 10, and then stopped. We are going to read it aloud with Mariel beginning in about a month, and I thought I would preread it with this in mind, since I have never made it all the way through. (I am putting off the reading of Rudyard Kipling's Kim, which I had thought we would do first.)

Cornflower and I started reading Wind in the Willows this week. I just adore that book. It looks like Triss is going to be reading some of it to Cornflower too, which is great, but I enjoy the book so much that I am a little jealous. ;o)

I have not picked up Poetic Knowledge since Christmas break, but I do want to start reading it week by week-- Maybe half a chapter per week?

I have made it three chapters through Seeking the Face of God, and am currently reading and rereading the third chapter, which is entitled "Training the Body and Soul". I am going to read it until I absorb it.

I'm keeping up with my Daily Bible readings, and, Lord willing, hope to make it past January 17th, which will be around three weeks into the new year. And then I hope to make it all the way to February, because, as we know, a habit that has been developed over the period of a month is one that can be kept as like as not. After that I intend to read all the way to next Christmas, but I am not looking that far ahead yet.

I'm really determined to make it through Leviticus this time. I am reading the OT aloud to myself to help with concentration, but so far I am only in Genesis, and there is a lot of narrative in that book, which is easier for me to stay focused on. I have been carrying the book around, reading a few verses when I have a moment, and forming questions in my mind. It is starting to come easier. But the last two days, I haven't finished my daily reading until after supper, and it is harder to persevere at that time than during the day.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Times That Try Men's Souls

This was Triss' studied dictation assignment today:

These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands it now deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives everything its value.

from The American Crisis by Thomas Paine

Thursday, January 08, 2009


This just makes me sick.

The DHM has more untangling of language and some links.

It seems that people are waking up to this problem. I hope the government listens.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

A Little Excitement

We got our schoolwork done by 1:30 today (yay!) and went over to the park for our homeschool group's park day. There were lots of kids and moms there, and we all enjoyed ourselves.

Mariel had fun racing with the other kids until she ran right into a metal light pole used for lighting the soccer field at night. I didn't see her do it, but apparently she got going so fast she didn't even have time to put up her hands before she ran into it. She gashed her chin open and was bleeding.

One of my mom-friends was a paramedic for twelve years before she became a mom, and was able to help Mariel calm down, stopped the bleeding, and gave advice about stitches. Another friend offered to take Cornflower and Triss to her house while I took Mariel to Urgent Care.

(It is a blessing to have such good friends around! They even lent me their cell phones because my cell phone battery was dead.)

The urgent care experience was a good one. They took her right in and were able to use a special glue called Dermabond to glue her cut closed, rather than having to stitch it. We were back in the car and on our way to pick up the other girls an hour after Mariel ran into the pole. How about that?

She is still having some pain around her face, but not too much to enjoy doughnuts. (The Urgent Care center was very close to the Krispy Kreme donut store. ;o)

It's a funny thing, but I thought I was handling it all very well and calmly until we got home and Triss put a movie on for the girls and I sat down. And just deflated. Apparently the adrenaline had started the minute I saw Mariel on the ground, and kept me going until we got home. I'm going to bed early tonight, thanking the Lord for all His mercies. I'm really glad Mariel is okay.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Boom, Boom, Ain't It Great To Be Crazy

I've got a lot on my plate for the next month or two, and I don't know how much blogging I will be doing. (I generally post only when something is nagging to get out of my head, but that happens a lot. I guess the nagging thoughts will have to stay put a little more for the next few weeks!)

It took a special bit of blundering for me to end up overseeing a piano recital, three Girl Scouts selling cookies, two science fair projects (and one small demonstration project for Science Night), and the culmination of a Junior Girl Scout Bronze Award project... all in the space of thirty days. (It's really more like two months, but the actual events all take place between mid-January and mid-February.)*

Once, as I bemoaned a similar situation, a friend said to me, "Katie, you realize we're crazy to do what we do, don't you?"

Yep. Got that. :O) But I'm not nearly as crazy as I was last year. Last year I was the Cookie Mom for Mariel's Girl Scout troop as well as much of the other stuff. This year, I steered clear of that volunteer opportunity. And I did let a friend talk me out of doing our regular science assignments this month, so we have a little extra time in each school day for science fair projects. (And, oh, we are so excited about our science fair projects! Fun, fun, fun.)

*My dad is going to be on his trip to Kenya during part of this time as well, so naturally I am (and will be) praying for and considering his journey.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Trouble for Cottage and Secondhand Industries?

I've been following this story for the past couple of days. I wonder if I am understanding it correctly. Surely the lawmakers realized when they wrote this law that it would adversely affect small businesses, the secondhand industry, charitable organizations. (Maybe not, but I just feel like I'm missing something. I can't believe a law that seems so all-encompassing, with so few exceptions, made it all the way to law status without a fight. It was passed back in August.)

A succinct article detailing how this law came into being.

An article on Etsy. Apparently, the CPSC asked for "comments regarding component testing and natural materials exemptions," and the deadline was today, January 5th. Etsy has also been asking for some kind of interactive communication with the commission, and it looks like that may happen.

There is a show on BlogTalkRadio tonight at 9 pm Eastern, entirely about this issue.

The Rainy Day

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the moldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the moldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.

--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, January 03, 2009

On the Last Day Before the End of Christmas

(I'm counting Sunday as the first day of the new week, an energizing feast for the spirit and mind before getting back into the swing of things. So today is the last day of Christmas break. With apologies to people whose Christmas celebration extends well into January.)

I woke up this morning between 9 and 9:30, and it was so quiet. If the sun had not been shining through the blinds, I would have thought it was much earlier. I walked into the living room and found Mr. Honey and the kids being very, very quiet so I could sleep. There were legos scattered across the floor, and the children were absorbed in a game of oceans, penguins, horses, princes, castles and planes.

Mr. Honey was reading the news on his tablet PC. I got some coffee and sat down to read emails and such. There was evidence of pancake consumption on the table. I cleared a few dishes.

After awhile, I thought about taking down Christmas things, and then decided I would decorate a fridge poster instead. (Earlier in the week, I used two large pieces of scrapbook paper and our nice markers to write out two quotes I want to have before me in the new year. Our printer is not complying with the wishes of my laptop, so I had to handwrite them, and I wrote them large so I could have good penmanship.)

After making starlight on the poster, I took down the paper nativity the kids had gradually added to the refrigerator last month, being careful not to tear the paper dolls so they could use them later. We only lost one shepherd, and a few of the animals. Then I rearranged my two posters, as well as Mariel's, and the fridge was ready for the New Year. I contemplated the quotes on my posters, and thought that I should probably take a shower and get ready so I could get right on whatever tasks the Lord has for me today.

Breakfast seemed like a prerequisite, so I ate some pancakes with peanut butter and jelly, and decided against another cup of coffee. Mariel came into the kitchen and heated up cornmeal mush for her breakfast. She has a marked liking for hot grain cereals-- oatmeal, malt-o-meal, cornmeal mush, reheated rice. She isn't fond of quinoa or steel-cut oats, though.

As I ate, I saw the envelope containing a Clip-n-Mail for our local homeschool group's Science Night. I asked for a volunteer to put it in the mailbox at the end of our driveway.

Everyone was still in their pajamas.

Mariel volunteered, and started to go outside as she was. I protested that she couldn't go outside in jammies.

"But Mom, I made a goal to stay in my pajamas until noon today!"

What a goal. Lol.

She got dressed and took the envelope out for me.

The kids burst out with "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas". Mr. Honey caught me in the kitchen and pretended to be one of those cursor decorations that follow the cursor all over the screen (I being the cursor and he being the decoration), finally enfolding me in a great big bear hug, as we talked about how a website with cursor decorations is not worth visiting at all, but a similarly attracted Honey-decoration is most welcome.

He wandered back to the living room, humming "It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas" and grousing good-naturedly about how his children put these songs into his head.

I finished my pancakes and realized I needed to read my Daily Bible before the day got away from me. The kids sang, "Boom, Boom, Ain't It Great To Be Crazy". I filled a glass with water and sat down to read it aloud. Reading it aloud helps me to focus better.

The kids sang "George, George, George of the Jungle". Cornflower put "Meet the Robinsons" in the DVD player.

I updated my Bible-reading tally in the sidebar (for accountability, you know), and went to get ready for the day.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Our Homeschool Motto

He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

Micah 6:8

When I started using Homeschool Tracker to record our assignments for schoolwork, there was a section to record a verse or phrase to represent what we try to achieve in our schooling.

I do like the CM motto: "I am, I can, I ought, I will!" But we felt we needed a family motto as well.

We chose "Do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly with your God."

It appears every time we open the Homeschool Tracker, and we use the Tracker pretty much every school day. (Otherwise we have trouble keeping track, you see.) But after almost a year of seeing it, the motto has blended in, like wallpaper. So I thought I would mention it here, to bring it back out again.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blog Retrospective

I got this idea from Willa, who got it from UK Bookworm.


I asked myself, do I think to pray when I leave my room each morning? When I'm met with great temptation? When my heart is filled with anger? When sore trials come upon me?


How do we give our kids the freedom to choose right, along with the understanding that the way of transgressors is hard?


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

"[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.

(Dad is going back to Kenya near the end of this month. Please pray for his safety, as well as for the sharing of the beautiful gospel of Christ, and for the increase of health and comfort for the Kenyan people, many of whom work very hard just to survive each day.)


The Lord gave us a healthy, tall coreopsis for a present! It just came up in our front yard.

Count the Blooms!


"We miss the general principle that critical studies are out of place until the mind is so 'throughly furnished' with ideas that, of its own accord, it compares and examines critically."


'Random' means, well, random.

If you stare at it long enough, it looks like it doesn't mean anything.


"[Petrarch said] 'Everyone should write in his own style.' The theme to note here is Self-Consciousness. It is allied to Individualism but it differs from it in being not a social and political condition but a mental state. One can be in prison, individuality all but submerged, and yet be acutely self-conscious. Individualism has limits imposed by the coexistence of many other individuals; Self-Consciousness has none. Over the centuries it has dug ever deeper into the ego, with no boundary in sight."

(July was also the month we recommmitted ourselves to getting out of debt. You can find monthly updates under the Personal Finance label on our sidebar.)


"...the decisions of life are not simple, and to taboo knowledge is not to secure innocence... ignorance is the parent of insatiable curiosity."


"In the final analysis, the bipartisan group reasoned that as Ameri­cans, we failed to imagine such a thing happening, and so could not fathom it even as it happened. After hearing this conclusion during the prebriefing on the commission's findings, I exclaimed, 'Yes, it was a failure of imagina­tion, but it was caused by a failure of education.'"


"The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret. And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last."


"Well, I never could see but that my bread rose just as light when liberals were in as when they were not."

(More posts on the election process and decline of the markets can be found in the sidebar under the label, "Current Events".)


Our goal should be knowledge, wisdom and understanding. Not a job, not a dream. But a whole person, well-equipped to honor God and serve her fellow man in whatever capacity lies open to her.