Monday, July 12, 2010

The Absolute Best Homeschool Method Ever

It's not Charlotte Mason. It's not Classical. It's not even the Principle Approach.

A friend of mine visited the blog today and sent me a message saying that CM is her goal school-wise, but that she seems to get further away from Charlotte Mason method as more of her kids become school-aged.

Then she named it. The Absolute Best Homeschool Method Ever.

(This is all you need, folks.)

"But I press along still looking up in prayer..."

That's the way to do it.

Van Paid, Check!

(Find previous getting-out-of-debt posts here.)

Well, the Warrior Poet and I have sent off our final payment on the van loan. Yippee! It only took us five (!) years. Here's praying that the transmission doesn't fall out before we save up for a replacement!

(Those of you who think you need a new car even though you have to schedule the payments out for sixty months, don't do it! Back away from the salesman. Please pay cash for a beater instead of going into long-term debt for a car. Believe me.)

But God has been good to us. Two years ago, we faced the fact that not only were we $25,000 in debt (excluding the house), we were too undisciplined to get out of debt without personal help. We enlisted the aid of a personal financial coach for six months, who trained us to keep our heads in the game and our eyes on the goal. He was very helpful. He still replies to our occasional emails when things go awry and we don't know what to do.

Anyway, in two years we have paid off over $15,000. We listen to folks on Dave Ramsey that have paid off $50,000 or more in two years, and realize we are not nearly as aggressive as Dave recommends, BUT we have still paid off $15,000 in debt in two years.

(We realized in the counselling sessions that the only way we could get that aggressive would be to put the kids in school and send me back to work full-time. We decided that we were Not In That Bad Of Shape. We were going to do this thing while homeschooling if at all possible, even if it took longer.)

$9700 to go. Yippee!

Friday, July 02, 2010

Lizzy, Emma, Catherine, and Us

Roasting marshmallows at sunset

Last weekend we came back from a visit to our friends in Missouri. These are the friends that used to live across the street from us, and were our long-lost brethren in many ways, and I never thought while they lived here that they would ever move away. But they did.

So now we visit them, and they come to see us, and my friend K. and I do the mom version of the Vulcan mind-meld and drink tea and coffee and laugh at our children.

K. with her youngest son

Anyway, K. gave me a book for a present when we got to her house, and I was delighted. I wonder sometimes if I will ever cease to be delighted by books, especially when I look at my bookcases and counters and tabletops covered in them, but I came home from Missouri with bags of new ones I purchased from the terrific thrift stores up there. The book K. gave to me is the prize of them all. It is called Miniatures and Morals: the Christian Novels of Jane Austen by Peter Leithart.

We have Peter Leithart's commentary on six Shakespeare plays, and have been pleased to add him to the conversation at our house. I didn't even realize he had an Austen commentary until K. handed me a copy.

"One for you and one for me," she smiled.

See. What a great friend.

I begin to see the possibilities for this book. With two girls fixing to be thirteen and sixteen at the beginning of the fall, and a third daughter coming up fast behind, I am always on the lookout for another Beauty and Virtue book. You know the kind. How to Have Good Manners and Good Hygiene, Take Care of Things, Serve Others, and Glorify God in Everything You Do. And Other Fun Stuff...

Okay, just kidding. :D

Actually, I like those kinds of books. If only life could be reduced to a formula. But then it would not be lavish and imaginative and joyful. And unpredictable.

With this new Jane Austen commentary, I sense a different kind of Beauty and Virtue experience. We have read (and watched) and enjoyed (and dissected) the Austen novels for years, but I hope Mr. Leithart's insight will provide us an additional road map through the qualities of light and truth-- as well as darkness and deception-- in her books.

We plan to read aloud three novels during the first hour next year:

Pride and Prejudice ("Morals and Manners, Marriage and Money")
Emma ("Charity and the Deeper Game")
Northanger Abbey ("What Ideas Have You Been Admitting?")

Ooh, I'm so excited. Now if only Mr. Leithart would write a commentary for Sir Walter Scott's novels...