Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Reading Round-Up ~ June: The Twilight Edition


21. Twilight by Stephenie Meyer. (Borrowed from the library. Book club selection. 498 pages. 1 day. Yeah, I know.) WARNING: Long review with spoilers for the two people who haven't yet read this book.

Brilliant. The author delivers EXACTLY what the reader (of Twilight) wants. Any guesses? It isn't superb writing. It isn't a complex plot. It isn't witty dialogue. It isn't breathtaking descriptive passages. It isn't fascinating ideas to keep one thinking long after the book is closed.

The reader wants to BE the female lead in an emotionally intense romantic story. She wants to be HERSELF, in a common place, with an extraordinary experience. She wants to feel not just wanted, but obsessed over. Not just beautiful, but irresistible. Not just popular, but worthy. And she wants the chance to give herself over completely to the experience, no matter the cost, no matter the danger--yet be protected/saved by the person with whom she is risking everything. Yep. Stephenie Meyer delivers. Spectacularly, I might add.

When you enter Twilight, you don't have to live vicariously through the story of a beautiful woman in an exotic location. Nope. You get to be you--with all your insecurities, your low self-esteem, your empty life, your angst. You get to be Bella in the rainy Pacific Northwest. Your father and mother are like children. You have never been part of the in-crowd. You don't fit in. You're invisible. You're plain. You're physically awkward. You're the new girl in a depressing, ordinary place. You're writing the story in first person.

You don't have to wait long to feel a change in the atmosphere. (It's a good thing. We're at the fast food counter, here.) You're the new girl--suddenly mysterious, fascinating. The boys are lining up. But you aren't the typical (shallow, unimaginative) girl, of course. You don't want just any boy. You want THAT one: the mysterious, fascinating, exotic guy across the cafeteria, the rich one with the fancy sports car, the one who makes your hair stand on end. You want the one who can make an author spend an entire book convincing/reminding the reader how unnaturally god-like he is, and run out of original ways to say it on page 50 of a 500 page book. Let's not even get started on his eyes.

Just looks and a fancy sports car aren't enough for you. (Besides, it's his eyes that intoxicate you; who has time to notice anything else?) He can do EVERYTHING superbly. He's insanely smart. He drives at 125 miles an hour. He has super-human strength, speed, and reflexes. He plays the piano more brilliantly than Rachmaninoff. He has to play baseball in a thunderstorm because the crack of the bat sounds like lightning. He reads minds. (Except yours, of course. You are his kryptonite, which makes him irresistibly flustered and vulnerable only when he's with you.)

But, oh, wait! There's more! Not only is he the (supernaturally) best looking teenager in the school/world complete with supernatural talents, he has all the attraction of an older man and the charm of the early 1900s: he can dance, he is elegant, he has beautiful handwriting, he appreciates classical music and good books!

(I swear, this is almost as addicting as the Dr. Pepper I'm drinking to stay up late enough to finish this book in one day....)

So, we've established that he is the best looking, most talented, charming, teenager/older man, but we're not through. He's dangerous. Deadly so. He's the tormented bad boy (and that's an understatement). You get all the angst. The up and down roller coaster of moods. The obsession. The stalking. The smouldering emotional passion.

Ah, but even though you are 'the addict's personal brand of heroin,' he loves you. Not only loves you, but loves you supernaturally in a way he has never before experienced in his looooooong life. He will fight every urge to consume you physically, will summon up a supernatural self-control in order to save you, to protect you. So now he is the bad boy turned personal savior. Awesome.

Feeling faint in biology class? He'll carry you to the school nurse. Almost run over by a van? He'll stop the vehicle with his hands while shielding your body. Trapped by a gang of guys in a dark alley? His sports car will screech up at the last minute and he'll order you to get in (and take you out for dinner so that his jealous/protective instincts don't cause him to hunt the guys down and kill them).

He knows that he is bad for you, but he's between a rock and a hard place. You need him and he needs you. Life has no meaning apart from your love and desperate need to be together.

You make up your mind. No risk or cost is too great. You can't live without him, so you put your life in his hands, offering yourself to him. He summons that inhuman self-control, and your life is safe. Luckily, a single kiss (with a vampire) packs enough physical and emotional punch to make up for the absence of other things.

The danger intensifies. Now you are being hunted by the deadliest tracker on earth. It will take the efforts of seven supernatural beings to protect you, but you are worthy. You almost die as the hunter traps and savagely attacks the hunted (because you nobly offer your life in the place of another), but your personal avenging angel saves you at the very last moment in his most agonizing moment of self-denial.

Then everyone lives happily ever after... at the high school prom. (And only if you can resist reading the sneak peek of the sequel placed for your convenience at the end of the book.)

The best part? You may read this even if you are only ten years old because there is NO SEX. But your mother will enjoy it, too. Because, deep down, it just isn't about sex. It is about a deep, compelling, emotional hunger to be someone's EVERYTHING. To be desired. To be worthy. To dangerously offer every part of yourself...and be protected in return.

{Suddenly, unexpectedly, as I'm sitting here typing this review, it hits me with a knock-my-breath-away force. We were created with this desire, but on a staggeringly grander scale--with a more breathtaking culmination possible. The parallels are jumping out at me. Here's a PSA: God's got it all covered. I'd quote C. S. Lewis right here, but I think it would be sacrilegious to do so in a review of Twilight. Plus, I can't find the exact passage I'm looking for. ETA: Give these quotes a try.}

ETA: I am not endorsing this book. I am simply describing what it felt like to read it. And I am certainly not recommending that you let your ten-year-old daughter read it. (I apologize if my sarcastic tone didn't come across in the writing.) I think the theme I proposed could be much more insidious than any sexual situations, for young girls and their mothers alike, not to mention that this is, indeed, a book about vampires.

[On a MUCH LESS serious note, for those of you who missed this article when I linked it some time ago: What do you get when you mix vampires with the Amish and the End Times? The Ultimate Christian Novel. Am I the only one dying laughing?]


In the anticlimactic finale, we have the other three books I read this month:

20. The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education by Leigh A. Bortins (Purchased from Amazon. 215 pages. A week of reading.) Lengthy review can be found at this link.

19. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. (Purchased from Amazon. Book club selection. 187 pages. Two weeks.) Many quirky, silly, mostly older women lived in Cranford. Random events happened. The end. (Skip this book and go straight for North and South, Wives and Daughters, or Ruth.)

18. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie. (From my bookshelf. 266 pages. The first 50 pages took me a week or two, the last 210 took a day. Grin.) There is a reason Agatha Christie is considered an undisputed master of mystery (if not THE). That is all.

The Science of Summer

summer bicycle



The Science of a Bicycle: The Science of Forces

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Core

The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education is written by Leigh A. Bortins, the founder of Classical Conversations. Bortins is an aerospace engineer who has home educated her four sons.

I found myself reading with a pencil in hand. My copy is marked in some way on many, many pages. Bortins talks about the history of education in our country and why our current education system is not going to serve our children and their futures. The historical and literary details sparked my attention, and I thought the author did an excellent job of explaining the basics of classical education.

Introduction

pg. 5

The classical model emphasizes that learning feeds the soul and edifies the person rather than producing employees to work an assembly line. The goal of a classical education is to instill wisdom and virture in people. We see learning as a continuing conversation that humankind has been engaged in for centuries, and we are concerned that industrialization and technologies reduce contact and context between children and their elders.

The Classical Model

pg. 14

The goal of education is to teach children to become adults who can handle complex ideas, in uncertain situations, with confidence.

pg. 15

The purpose of a classical education is to strengthen one's mind, body, and character in order to develop the ability to learn anything.

pg. 37

Today's educators reject the importance of preparing our next generation to enter the great classical conversations of history because they no longer believe there is a core body of knowledge common to man. So personal opinion has trumped universal truth, expediency has displaced goodness, and edginess has shoved aside beauty. Families no longer know that a great classical conversation exists and that their children could become its most interesting participants.

pg. 40

Classical education encourages us that we are capable of becoming an Oxford don who builds bicycles, or a plumber who reads Milton, or a business owner who spouts theology. The classically educated are not defined by their occupation so much as by their breadth of knowledge and understanding.

pg. 47

Classical education is analogous to brain training. When encountering new information, the brain must know how to store data (grammar), retrieve and process data (logic), and express data (rhetoric).

pg. 48

A student must begin with grammar no matter their age or the topic. Grammar is essentially defined as the science of vocabulary. Every occupation, field of study, or concept has a vocabulary that the student must acquire like a foreign language before progressing to more difficult or abstract tasks within that body of knowledge.

pg. 51-52

Educated children are building a permanent, organized storage system in the brain with key ideas that they will continue to use lifelong... No matter what your children's strengths and weaknesses are, or their likes and dislikes, or their gifts and talents, their brains want to gather, sort, store, and retrieve information.

pg. 61

We need to offer children a broad, freeing education that allows them to think well and to be lifelong learners. Children need to be prepared for any challenge, even for job opportunities that may not exist until well into the future.

pg. 71

We want children to recognize the difference between expressing an opinion and developing a logical conclusion through induction or deduction. That doesn't mean they can't or don't express feelings or opinions. They just need to recognize that it is a feeling or opinion.



In Part Two of The Core, the author explains, in detail, the core of a classical education: reading, writing, math, geography, history, science, and fine arts. She emphasizes process over materials or lists and gives the reader very specific ideas on teaching each skill and subject.

pg. 103

In order to read well, you need to spend lots of time reading. Words need to be savored, laughed at and cried over, wrestled with, and stomped on. They should hit us in the head, knock us off our feet, and spin us around. Words should be the thoughts in our heads that comfort, challenge, sharpen, soften, frighten, and embolden.

pg. 169

Often an artificial tension is presented between the goal of teaching basic skills and core content. To classical educators, both are needed. While we emphasize the practice of skills, we need excellent material to practice on. Classical educators go out of their way to ensure that the content is of enduring quality.

The Core is a book that will challenge your ideas about education, introduce you to the classical model, and show you, step-by-step, how to teach your children (and yourself!) the skills and content they (and you!) will need to be confident adults who can learn anything, adapt to new situations and careers, and participate fully in the great conversation of humankind.

{While Classical Conversations is a distinctly Christian program headed by the author, The Core does not expound upon either faith or the Classical Conversations program specifically, so it is appropriate and inspirational for anyone interested in education in America, homeschooling, and/or classical education.}

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Signs of Summer

Signs of Summer

What is one to say about June,
the time of perfect young summer,
the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months,
and with as yet no sign to remind one
that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.

~Gertrude Jekyll


No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.

~James Russell Lowell, The Vision of Sir Launfal, 1848

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Bliss

Summer Reading

A morning trip to the library and an afternoon of reading on the lawn.
In 75 degree weather. Lovely.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Sunday Seven ~ Week 24

Strawberries


:: My most favorite childhood strawberry stand is open for business. The boys helped me pick out a flat. YUM!! Nothing like fresh-picked Oregon strawberries, though it has been so ridiculously rainy this season, I'm guessing the strawberry season is going to be rather short. Get them while you can!

:: We had a 2-day summer.... LAST weekend. It is pouring down rain as I type. Sigh.

:: Even though the weather hasn't been great, it was lovely enough last evening that my family was able to have an awesome game of backyard softball. (ETA: Pictures at my mom's blog, Treading on Moss.) HEAVENLY. I found out that Luke can really throw that ball, and Leif is awesome at batting! I can still hit the ball, even if I run the bases verrrrrry slowly. We all play outfield when the brothers-in-law are hitting...and no one is left to play infield. My nephew, Drake, can pass everyone else up when running with the bases loaded. My Dad pitched the whole evening. I think he is going to feel it today.

:: I feel it today. Ouch. It doesn't help that I have a stomach bug on top of an evening of softball playing. I got out of bed at 1pm. And I'm heading back there shortly. As soon as I kick Russ out so he can watch the boys again.

:: The back seat of a '65 Mustang is not meant for adults. (ETA: I'm not sure I want to edit this, but my hubby laughed like a crazy person. For RIDING in the back seat. Good grief. It is the only place left for me on a *family* drive after the boys are buckled.) Especially the MIDDLE of the back seat. Driving a '65 Mustang isn't much more comfortable. I'm guessing both experiences are 'enhancing' the way my body feels today.

:: My hubby may come in 6th on this list of 7, but he's #1 to me. Grin. What an awesome Dad he is!! Happy Father's Day, Love. And I have the best Dad on the planet. How did I get so blessed?

:: And because I think you all deserve something profound, informing, or edifying in all my posts, I found this article about ideology in children's books by M. T. Anderson quite fascinating.


The words that a father speaks to his children in the privacy of home are not heard by the world, but, as in whispering-galleries, they are clearly heard at the end and by posterity.

~Jean Paul Richter

Thursday, June 17, 2010

I'm Ready

Summer School

Things were slow-going this year, but we're hanging in there. Now that it is June, I'm realizing that we're technically into 'summer school,' and that's okay. Here are the plans and goals through the end of August:

  • Continue to work through our math curriculum. I took some time off with Levi last fall, as he just wasn't ready to move on. (Words, no problem. Numbers.... well, they don't come as easily.) I would love to finish his 2nd grade math program (RightStart Math) over the summer, but we may have to continue to work on it in the fall and start the 3rd grade book in January. I'd rather he really understood the concepts than hurry him along. That's the beauty of homeschooling!! I also would rather he worked slowly through the summer and not forget what he has learned! (And I'm very pleased with the solid mathmatical foundation he is getting through RightStart.)
  • Finish up First Language Lessons 2 with Levi. I think we'll just breeze through the last lessons and not focus on any of the memory work (prepositions, and such) since he will have a lot of that in the next few years through Classical Conversations.
  • Continue to work through both Story of the World: Early Modern Times and Christian Kids Explore Chemistry. These are enjoyable for us, and we don't have a specific deadline to finish up the books. It would be wonderful if we could wrap them up before September, but I'm not sure that is realistic. We might take a break and pick them up again in January, or do them very slowly throughout the fall.
  • Work in Handwriting Without Tears workbooks. Levi should easily be able to finish the cursive book over the summer without breaking a sweat, so he will be able to do his 3rd grade writing in cursive. Leif and Luke also have their own workbooks.
  • Piano lessons and practice for Luke. Piano review for Levi.
  • Lots of free reading for all three boys.
  • Play. Play. Play. Spend a lot of time outside.

I think that about covers it!

ETA: I forgot all about spelling. We might slip some of that in this summer, as well. See how organized I am? Grin.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Classical Conversations

Wheat

(You're in for a long one.)

Classical Conversations: An Overview

Classical Conversations is a nation-wide program that helps train and equip parents to provide their children with a Christian classical education. Individual communities hire parents to be trained as tutors through Classical Conversations practicums, who then lead small classes of children in weekly meetings.

For the grammar stage (grades K4-6th), the Foundations program meets for 24 weeks during the school year. This allows for a full month off in December, two weeks for spring break, and ends the year in early April (though, I believe, individual communities set their own schedules). The Foundations classes meet one morning each week for 3 hours. (Leaving plenty of time during the week as well as during the year for additional studies.)

During the morning classes, students are led by their tutors through individual oral presentations (to learn public speaking skills). They are then introduced to memory work in timeline/history, science, geography, English grammar, Latin, math, and Bible. The memory work is followed by science and fine arts projects. Parents are required to attend classes with their children so that they observe and learn from the teaching modeled by the tutors, which will in turn help them guide their children in reviewing the memory work at home.

The memory work outlined in the Foundations classes is designed to prepare the students for the higher-level classes. CC recommends that parents supplement with phonics, math, and handwriting studies at home.

Beginning in 3rd or 4th grade, an afternoon session is available to supplement the Foundations classes through 6th grade. During Essentials, students learn language arts and structure with The Essentials of the English Language Guide, writing through the Institute for Excellence in Writing programs, and math through challenging problems and games.

Day-long (30 week) Challenge programs for logic and rhetoric stages begin in 7th grade. These classes cover math, Latin and Spanish, literature and writing, science labs, debate, rhetoric, and geography (mapping the whole world free-hand from memory!). Students complete lessons and assignments at home during the remainder of the week.


Why I Was Initially Hesitant:

When first presented with the idea of Classical Conversations, I thought it sounded wonderful.... but not for us. I love planning our curricula and sequence. That is one of my favorite aspects of homeschooling. The CC sequence doesn't correspond with our history/literature and science sequence. And we're in the middle of a 4-year rotation. CC employs a 3-year cycle and the history memory work is not perfectly chronological (Old World History, Modern World History, and American History). I didn't want to stop what we are doing and have planned, so CC would just be additional (and possibly distracting) work.

I knew that parents are required to be in the classrooms. The idea of monitoring my older boys while juggling Leif was overwhelming. Confession: I (as a very self-conscious introvert) find parenting my very outgoing BOY boys in social situations very stressful. Imagining watching as they adjust to a structured classroom situation (particularly for my wiggly Luke) just topped off the anxiety level. Add a baby due a few weeks into the fall session, and I assumed it wasn't going to be possible.

Other negatives I've heard proposed: the program's high cost (particularly when the parent continues to teach phonics, handwriting, and math at home), the intense focus on memory work without context, it is something a parent could implement at home without committing to the classes, and the simple fact that any program is only as good as the people (directors, tutors, parents, and children) involved. (Or, obviously, a dislike for classical and/or Christian programs in general.)


Why I Changed My Mind:

My sister became interested in Classical Conversations particularly for her daughter, Ilex, who will be entering high school this next year. They have just finished their four-year rotation of chronological history and literature as well as covering the four main sciences. They (her 8th grade daughter and 6th grade son, Drake) had years of intensive Latin, grammar, logic, math, and some Spanish. Her youngest daughter, Ivy, and cousin, Jake, just finished a fabulous K year. This is perfect timing for a transition in their schooling.

My mom has been participating in history with Ilex and has discovered an interest in education in general and history in particular. She also has been helpful in watching Leif an afternoon or two each week while I work with my older boys. A while ago, she let me know that if I was at all interested in trying CC, she would love to help by taking the boys to their weekly class and being the observing 'parent.' A CC information meeting was being held that evening. I decided to check it out.

The information meeting was excellent, and I really liked the director who is starting the program in our city this year. She seems very intelligent, well-spoken, calm and unflappable, organized, and personable. I found out that classes are available for ages as young as four, which means that Leif will be able to participate. Not all 4-year-olds would benefit from CC, but I think Leif will really thrive in that environment. My three boys will be in separate classes (which is a GOOD thing), but learning the same material (which will make weekly review much easier).

It occurred to me that Classical Conversations provides exactly the elements that are weaknesses for me and opportunities that my boys need: 1.) Consistency and discipline in memory work across all subjects. 2.) Accountability. 3.) A social network of families interested in the same educational goals. 4.) Experience in a classroom situation. 5.) Opportunity to make new friends. 6.) Learning from other adults and mentors. 7.) Hands-on science and fine arts projects. 8.) Practice in public speaking.

The cost wasn't a concern for me. Not that we had nothing else on which to spend the money, but that I felt it was worth what I would be getting. The bulk of the money goes to the director of the local program and the tutors of the classes my boys will be attending. I know that I will take the program more seriously (as will the other parents) after writing that check. And I assume that tutors will take their position and responsibilities more seriously than a volunteer. The registration (which goes to the national headquarters), supplies, and location fees are reasonable. And I'm very pleased with the materials I purchased.

It felt like Christmas the day my Foundations Curriculum Guide (and other materials) came in the mail. I poured over it and felt my excitement growing. It contains all the memory work for all 3 cycles. (We will only need one copy for all 3 boys for all the years of Foundations.)

Every year, Foundations students memorize all of the Veritas Press History Timeline cards from ancient history to modern times. These are memorized with hand motions. (The cards have additional information on the back that can be read during the week, as well as references for additional information in resources such as the Kingfisher History Encyclopedia or Victor Journey Through the Bible for Biblical events.) Students also memorize the U.S. presidents yearly.

Math memory work is also the same each cycle: skip counting numbers up to 15 and other math facts such as the formula for finding the area of a circle.

Students memorize a HUGE amount of geography (new material each cycle): not only countries but also mountains, bodies of water, ancient civilizations, deserts, the original 13 colonies, etc. Cycle 3 consists of all the U.S. states and capitals, bodies of water, mountains, territories, trails, canals, and more.

Classical Conversations now offers beautiful cards (very similar to the VP timeline cards) to correspond with the 3 years of science memory work, such as ocean zones, types of volcanoes, parts of an animal cell, kingdoms of living things, seven biomes, laws of thermodynamics, parts of the circulatory system, and the definition of catastrophism.

Other memory work includes weekly history sentences (the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World, the Bill of Rights, the fall of communism in Eastern Europe, Charlemagne...), Latin (declensions, conjugations, and Bible translation), English (parts of speech, participles, irregular verb tenses, and clauses), and Bible memory. In addition to weekly hands-on science projects, students participate in four 6-week fine arts studies (drawing, famous artists, composer/instruments of the orchestra, and music theory/tin-whistle lessons).

Since my teaching/homeschooling strength (as well as Levi's) is content/context (rather than discipline/skill), I am very excited about using the memory work as a spring-board for supplemental studies during the week. All of the memory work is on a CD, so that will make it very easy to review every day. We'll be doing CC work and bare-bones studies during the week throughout the fall (when baby arrives), and adding in more when January rolls around. I'll share more about how Classical Conversations will play out in our over-all studies in a future post.

One last comment about people. I've already mentioned that I am impressed with our local CC director. But I am so excited about the friends who have also registered for Foundations classes! My sister's daughter, Ivy. Her cousin, Jake. My best friend's kids, McKinnon and Monet. Heather's boys. My mom has expressed interest in attending the classes even when I'm able to take the boys. I'm thrilled about seeing these wonderful people each week, and am looking forward to meeting the other families involved. Now, we are just praying for the tutor positions to be filled. And praying an exceptional tutor can be found for Ilex's (and C's) Challenge class.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On Reason, Art, Life, and Education

Wheat

Classical Education

It is form and beauty and truth. It opens up the imagination and gives the mind tools to create.
It is human and yet transcendent. It is logical and fertile.

Classical Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue through meditation on the Good, the True, and the Beautiful. This is accomplished in two ways: first, through training in the liberal arts; and secondly, through a familiarity with the great books and the great thinkers of the Western tradition. ~Memoria Press

It takes a student through the process of gaining knowledge (concrete/grammar), understanding (analytical/logic), and wisdom (abstract/rhetoric) as beautifully explained at Trivium Pursuit.

For the LORD gives wisdom, and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. ~Proverbs 2:6

From What is Classical Education? by Peter Kreeft at Memoria Press:

'It is a relationship of transcendence. As Pascal showed us, classical wisdom is infinitely more precious than all the best goods in the world, but Christian wisdom is infinitely more precious than the best classical education in the world; and the second infinity is infinitely more infinite than the first. When St. Thomas Aquinas was traveling across the Pyrenees (on foot, because he was very heavy and had charity to animal donkeys as well as human ones), the sun suddenly broke through the clouds and revealed an awesome vista of fifty miles of rich forests and richer cities, with shining golden domes. His friend Brother Reginald said, "Wouldn't it be a grand thing to own all that your eye can see at this moment, Brother Thomas?" And Brother Thomas replied, after only a moment's hesitation, "I suppose so, but I think it would be a grander thing to own that missing page in that Aristotle manuscript." A little more wisdom is more than a little better than a lot of anything else.'


What is Classical Education? by Susan Wise Bauer
The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers
Introduction to Classical Education at Classical Christian Education
Modern (Outcome-Based) Education vs. Classical (Trivium-Based) Education at Trivium Pursuit
Why Our Model of Classical Education May Look Different by Susan Wise Bauer
The Joy of Classical Education by Susan Wise Bauer
A Classical Education: Back to the Future by Stanley Fish at The New York Times

Marva Collins in Marva Collins' Way:

'...I went beyong the required curriculum in many of my lessons. For example, I taught my students how to add and subtract, but I also taught them that arithmetic is a Greek word meaning to count and that numbers were called digits after the Latin word digitus, meaning finger, because people used to count on their fingers. I taught them about Pythagoras, who believed that mathematics made a pupil perfect and ready to meet the gods. I told them what Socrates said about straight thinking leading to straight living. I read aloud to them from The Great Quotations and 101 Famous Poems. We talked about Emerson's "Self Reliance," Bacon's "On Education," and parts of Thoreau's Walden: "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer."

'...Until you reveal a larger world to children, they don't realize there is anything to reach for.'

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saturday Seven ~ Week 23

:: We get some sunshine this weekend. FINALLY!! And Russ gets a day of white water rafting. The river should be insanely perilous after all this rain we've had (we broke the precipitation record for May and June, and it's only the 12th). Maybe y'all could say a few prayers for those guys today. I'm single-parenting at a BBQ with the boys. Maybe y'all could say a prayer for me, too. (Grin.)

:: 4 days of walking this week, but it was slow going. It isn't agreeing with me like it was a few months ago... Life is changing (again) for Shannon this next week, so early morning walking may be out the window.

:: Speaking of Shannon... She recently quoted that God's past faithfulness demands our current trust while in the middle of MORE unexpected life changes. Her life has gone through some MAJOR changes this past year, but God has worked out every single detail while she and Ben chose to trust. And God came through last week, AGAIN. Inspiring. And congrats to Ben on successfully finishing his first year of school and passing his EMT Basic state boards.

:: Food for thought at The New York Times: A Classical Education: Back to the Future. We are already registered for Classical Conversations (more about that this next week, I promise), and this article further inspired me to purchase Leigh Bortins' new book, The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education. It is now on my book stack (thank you, Amazon Prime). I'll review when I've finished.

:: More discussion fodder: What is the purpose of education? I'm loving the Twelve Reflections on an Educated Person at the end of this essay by John Taylor Gatto. I'm printing them off and adding them to my inspiration folder. I'd love to hear opinions about this list. Do you disagree? Anything to add? Comments? Do tell.

:: I can't stand it. "Using "text speak" to celebrate an educational accomplishment is like celebrating your SCUBA certification by drowning puppies. STOP IT." Cake Wrecks. They're painful.

:: Enough about education, or lack thereof. I'm off to enjoy my day.




My crown is called content, a crown that seldom kings enjoy.

~William Shakespeare

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Luke's 6th Birthday

Luke

As I was trying to think up something nice to do for Luke for his birthday, I hit upon the idea of visiting our favorite campground. We did a simple dinner out and trip to the dollar store on his actual birthday ($6 was CHEAP for the entertainment of watching him pick out 6 items... he is a shopper at heart) as I didn't want to battle any crowds or schedule conflicts over Memorial Day weekend. Then the following weekend we headed up to the mountains for a day trip.

Have I mentioned how ridiculously cold and rainy it has been this spring? RIDICULOUSLY. And I have no idea how I hit upon the one decent day out of two weeks' worth of weather. By decent, I mean 75 degrees in the valley and 60ish in the mountains. Not perfect, but not pouring down rain, either.

I have NEVER seen such raging water at our favorite little spot. And a deserted campground. There was not a single site occupied when we arrived a little after noon on Saturday. Which was lucky for us, I suppose. We chose a perfect little spot with (miraculously) a bit of rocky beach where the boys and friends could wade (without risking their lives). And a big of jungle for them to explore.

The adults sat around and relaxed around the campfire. We roasted hot dogs and s'mores. We topped off with chocolate chip cookies and rice krispie treats (it just isn't camping without them), and then guaranteed a sugar high with birthday cake. Don't be fooled by the peaceful photo of Luke with his new birthday-gift-book. You should'a seen the look on his face when he opened the cap gun from his cousin. Good thing we didn't have camp neighbors to mind the shooting that ensued for the next hour (when the caps ran out).... Between that, the sling-shot rockets, and a super-soaker water gun, the boy was in heaven.

Luke and Levi




take it easy

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Seven Books

Yes, more book talk...

I followed a conversation on my favorite homeschooling message boards lately. A lady was applying to teach at a Christian Classical school, and the application asked her to choose five books every school-aged child should read. One could interpret that question in wildly different ways, which I suppose would be the point. You might learn a lot about a person by the books they choose.

Since this is my blog, I get to come up with my own rules. (Isn't that the fun of having your own blog?) Limiting myself to 5 books was insanely impossible. So I gave myself one picture book for K and one fiction novel for every two years of public school (which equals seven books; are you impressed with my math skills?). (Please don't point out that I cheated by listing The Chronicles of Narnia. I suppose I would put The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe if I HAD to.)


Miss Rumphius by Barbara Cooney




Babe: The Gallant Pig by Dick King-Smith








Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan




Watership Down by Richard Adams








Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury


Oh, how hard it was to not be able to put several other books on the list. The Tales of Beatrix Potter. The Little Prince. David Copperfield. The Count of Monte Cristo. Animal Farm.

I purposefully added the 'novel' designation (rather than simply 'book') so that I didn't have to find more room for the Bible, Shakespeare's plays, Greek and Roman Myths, poetry, or Aesop's Fables. Because those (and so many others) are a given in our school.


Anyone want to play along? You ONLY get one picture book and six novels.