Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Speaking of Homeschooling...

Last night my dear blogless friend (and I say blogless because were she blogging I would link to her brilliant writing) and I were asked to speak to new homeschoolers. This was a daunting task to us because we didn't exactly feel like experts. (And still don't.) What do you say to new and unseasoned, possibly worried, homeschooling parents? I have my own fears, but they don't revolve around the first five years of school anymore. Now they revolve around the last seven!


So what did we offer? Well, we tried to offer what we felt would be helpful, and what we thought would encourage. We offered "Ten things we wish we believed about homeschooling when we first started." I am going to be sharing them over the next few days, but I would love your thoughts too. We listed them in order from the least important to the most in our minds. Here is number 10:


10. Don't buy too far ahead.


I had a friend who had young children, but was nervous about the future. She decided to purchase all the remaining years of her child's curriculum! Now I don't know about you, but when I first started homeschooling there were things I saw that looked great to me, and some I even bought and planned to use over time, but as the years passed and my style of homeschooling changed, I just did not want to use them anymore. I also have a dear friend who felt buying all the years to a particular program was a good idea. Once she started using it, she discovered it was not a good fit for her family. She was then left with a lot of curriculum that she was not going to use. It is not always easy to recoup that money!


9. In the beginning, math needs to be concrete.


Manipulatives! We are the household of math manipulatives. Some are used to sort, some are used to count, some are used to help us with fractions, and some are used to understand the vital concept of place value. Young children need to see math. They need to understand the "why" of math. Why do we cross out that ten and carry the one? What does that mean to a tiny person? Do we want to teach them math rhymes, "Divide, multiply, subtract, bring down, divide, multiply, subtract, bring down." But what does that really mean at the end of the day? Will they understand it at the end of the year, or will they mix it up because they have never really learned it? Math needs to be concrete and visual - hands on.


We feel so locked in my grade levels and books sometimes. I know I do! What if your child was "not getting it?" What if you have a child that struggles? You should not move on until they get it. I have another friend who has a child in third grade who is doing a first grade math workbook. Now, is this because the mother has been neglectful? No. The mother is brilliant. She used to work for NASA and helped to build a space shuttle. She understands the "why" of math. However, she also understands that her daughter's brain isn't "getting it" yet. She knows that if she moves on her daughter will remain lost - so she patiently stays where her daughter needs her to be. I fully believe that she will at some time understand it and she will move on, but that may not be for a while. What a blessing it is that she has a mother who can wait with her without panic and stress!


That is exactly what happened with my own daughter. She is now at the age where her brain is "clicking" and she is finally understanding the "why." Did she have a brilliant mother who used to work for NASA? Absolutely not! Did she have a mother who made lots of mistakes on her first guinea pig child? Oh yes.  I made a LOT of mistakes that I really don't want to pass on! That is why this portion was here in our talk because we did make a lot of mistakes and didn't teach them correctly at first.


Don't let yourself get bogged down with the number of lessons in a book. I used to fall into this trap, and still sometimes stuggle with it. It is the child that matters, and their ability, not finishing the book.


More to come...


The rest of the series is found in the right sidebar.

Lost Culture Buried by Volcano

I love reading great historical articles and thought you might find this interesting!


Scientists Claim to Find 'Lost Culture' Buried by Volcano
Tuesday, February 28, 2006
NARRAGANSETT, R.I.  — Scientists have found what they believe are traces of the lost Indonesian civilization of Tambora, which was wiped out in 1815 by one of the biggest volcanic eruptions in recorded history.


Mount Tambora's cataclysmic eruption on April 10, 1815, buried the inhabitants of Sumbawa Island under searing ash, gas and rock and is blamed for an estimated 88,000 deaths. The eruption was at least four times more powerful than Mount Krakatoa's in 1883.


Guided by ground-penetrating radar, U.S. and Indonesian researchers recently dug in a gully where locals had found ceramics and bones. They unearthed the remains of a thatched house, pottery, bronze and the carbonized bones of two people, all in a layer of sediment dating to the eruption.


University of Rhode Island volcanologist Haraldur Sigurdsson, the leader of the expedition, estimated that 10,000 people lived in the town when the volcano erupted in a blast that dwarfed the one that buried the Roman town of Pompeii.

The eruption shot 400 million tons of sulfuric gases into the atmosphere, causing global cooling and creating what historians call "The Year Without a Summer." Farms in Maine suffered crop-killing frosts in June, July and August of 1816. In France and Germany, grape and corn crops died, or the harvests were delayed.

(The rest of the article found here. Pictures too!)

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Four Generations Revisited

And here we are...



From left to right, that is my grandmother, my eldest daughter, my mother, my second daughter, and me. I know we are blessed to have so many generations in our family, and a rich heritage too. We started in 1841 and went forward somewhere into the 1970's. We were able to see the fruit of my grandmother and grandfather's labor in finding out when that part of our family came to America. On my mother's side I am Irish and German and now I know when we came here! What a tremendous history on both sides and exciting to see - in black and white - those who came before me and had a hand in my making.


We shared meals together, laughter, and some really good conversation. Life goes by *so* quickly. It is hard for me to comprehend that I am 35 and that my oldest child is 11 already. Where did that time go? It will not be much longer that we have four generations like this all in one place.  While I don't like to think about that, it is just simply the truth. I am so grateful for the time we had this weekend and it happens all to infrequently.


If there is one thing I brought away from our time it would be enjoy those you have while you have them. We looked at many pictures of my grandfather from the tender age of 10 here:


(Click to enlarge.)


to marrying my grandmother in 1942:



And then when I was pregnant with our fourth child, he passed away. Oh, how he is missed! Life is SO fast - we are but a breath from God - enjoy your family! Enjoy your children! Don't worry so much about the little things!


How grateful I am to God for giving me family.


Friday, February 24, 2006

Four Generations

This weekend, starting approximately one hour from now, my two oldest daughters and I will be leaving for a ladies weekend with my mother, grandmother, and my two aunts. That makes four generations all together at once. It is a blessing from God that we are able to do this at all. It is a first. I hope it will be everything we hope for. We are getting together to discuss family history, enjoy some good food, as well as the company. My sweet husband will be caring for the other three children. What a guy! :+)


If you think of us, please pray for safety on the road, and I will update you upon our return.





Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Is Satan the "God of This World"?

I love to discuss theology and I have enjoyed reading and sometimes commenting on the new and improved TeamPyro. Recently there was a post on the private blog of one of the "Team" discussing dispensationalism and reformed theology. Are the two completely incompatible? I will let you be the judge. Sometimes it seems we think in terms of same words different meanings, but not always. I am still up in the air about it, but his post was thoughtworthy. “In essentials unity, in non-essentials freedom, in all things love.” I appreciate this quote a lot and believe more can be accomplished this way than not - we just have to agree on what is essential! :+)


I have a friendly difference of opinion on the end times portion of dispensational theology, but that is OK. I don't expect everyone to arrive at my viewpoint at the same time. (BIG Grin of sarcasm here, OK?!) :+)


Anyway, where does Satan fit into it? Is he worth a mention at all considering the God of heaven Who has all things well under His control? Yes, I think he is, but not in the same way that others might see it. I believe he is no longer the power he once was and that while he still has some power, he does not lie underneath all the trouble or strife that happens to a Christian. I have heard of well-meaning people say that it was Satan's will to thwart their carpet installation or that Satan was behind the trouble with their car. Do we really think that Satan cares at all about our carpet or our car? Will that move the world to corruption? He is not omnipotent and cannot be in all places at once. He is NOTHING like God. Now, did Satan have a hand in the really awful people in our world's history, like Hitler, etc? Oh, I would imagine he did have a hand in such horrors. That sounds right up his alley, doesn't it. But our carpet? I doubt it.


Where does he fit into today then? Well, I think this article does a great job of discussing it. I hope you find it as interesting and worth reading as I did.





Monday, February 20, 2006

Music that Ministers

There are only a few musicians that have gone the journey with me from youth until now. Paul Overstreet is one of them. The kind southern country feel of his music has made me smile, rejoice in my role here at home, and encouraged my walk with God. There is one song in particular that has ministered to my heart for as long as I have heard it. That song is below. It comes from his Heroes album and I just thought you might enjoy the words.


Calm at the Center of my Storm
by Paul Overstreet

Sometimes I let this old world have it's way with me
And there is no escape as far as I can see
Captured by the wind I break so helplessly
I know if not for you
There'd be no hope for me


You are the calm... at the center of my storm
When the cold winds blow
You're the fire that keeps me warm
When this old world gets me down
I will rest inside your arms
You are the calm... at the center of my storm


If I could only learn to always turn to you
Instead of thinking I always know what to do
But only takes the darkness for my eyes to see
There's never been a time when you weren't there for me


You are the calm... at the center of my storm
When the cold winds blow
You're the fire that keeps me warm
When this old world gets me down
I will rest inside youre arms
You are the calm... at the center of my storm


When this old world gets me down
I will rest inside youre arms
You are the calm... at the center of my storm
You are the calm... at the center of my storm

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Notable Quotables

Some of these you will remember from my former blogs, but I really like these quotes and thought I would share them. What are your favorite quotes?


"There is weakness, there is frailty; but there is courage also, and honor to be found in men." Boromir (LOTR)


"God writes the Gospel not in the Bible alone, but also on trees, and in the flowers and clouds and stars." Martin Luther


"I am afraid that the schools will prove the very gates of hell, unless they diligently labor in explaining the Holy Scriptures and engraving them in the heart of the youth." Martin Luther


"By a Carpenter mankind was made, and only by that Carpenter can mankind be remade." Desiderius Erasmus


"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave." Martin Luther


"Among those whom I like or admire, I can find no common denominator, but among those whom I love, I can: all of them make me laugh." W. H. Auden


"Love is an exploding cigar we willingly smoke." Lynda Barry


"I pay very little regard...to what any young person says on the subject of marriage. If they profess a disinclination for it, I only set it down that they have not yet seen the right person." Jane Austen (Mansfield Park)


Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Martin Luther - Political Satirist?


I thought I would point out to those of you who are interested, that there have been religiously-oriented comics around for centuries.


As Christians, let us pray the violence stops.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

It is official...

I have THE cutest niece in all the world. Her name is Laura, as you might remember from my very proud posting of her entrance into the world. Well she is growing fast and just about the cutest little thing (save for our own when they were the same age of course!) Here she is in all her chubby glory:


Click on it to see the picture close up!


I thought you all could appreciate a tiny little creature of God's perfection. She is as sweet in person as she is in this photo.


This is her big brother, Caedmon, and he is a real sweety too:


Click to see it larger - what a cutie!!


My brother and his wife are doing a great job with their little ones. Being parents is hard work, as we with children well know, and they are doing a super job!


I love being an Auntie!

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Almost Outnumbered!

We humans are almost outnumbered here at the house of creative pets. Creative as in NOT owning a dog.  Nothing screams "work" and "extra money" to me like a dog, but nothing would make my eldest quite so happy either. Sigh. It is hard when mom just cannot do it all, isn't it? I hate having to say "no" sometimes when I know it would make them all so happy, but being happy isn't all there is, is it? Praise God!


We do have two celebrations this month, and no, I am not talking about Valentine's Day. We have two birthdays in our home, one for our Best Boy, and one for our second daughter. (You see, I can say "Best Boy" because he is, and he happens to be the only boy too, so it really works!) Best Boy, also known in family circles as, John Henry, turned seven last week, and Abigail turns 9 this Tuesday. This makes us odd. Odd as in we now have children with odd ages: 3, 5, 7, 9, and 11!


So, back to creative pets. We purchased a birthday hamster for Miss Abigail today. She has named her Eowyn. She is peachy white and has a lovely stripe and sharp teeth. You can ask Abigail how she knows that. We also increased our crustacean collection with the three hermit crabs Fed-exed to us last week. They are appropriately named Henry the Navigator, Hercules, and Amethyst. How do we know if they are appropriately named? We don't, but we are good guessers! We have not been able to see if they are male or female yet, but yes, that is possible! They are really beautiful colorful creatures though, and very fun to have.


So, counting our cats, Merry and Pippen, we now have six animals. We have more pets than children!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

At just this time in history

There have been so many things running through my mind lately that it is hard to stay on track some days. A dear friend and I are speaking at a local homeschool support group in a few weeks to new homeschooling moms. I don't know about you, but when I first started there were so many things I feared and really didn't know how I would get through. HOW will I teach my FIVE children how to read!? Will I warp them forever?! Will they learn their math facts?! Will they know how to add and subtract, multiply and divide? What if I don't remember what a polynomial is? (Not to worry, folks, I didn't know and found it here - another helpful homeschool tool - the internet!)


Not only do we place pressure upon ourselves to be perfect, but we have outside pressures, family, friends, even sometimes the church or state. Thankfully, I do not really have that kind of pressure at all. But we do place pressures upon ourselves to conform to those around us, to conform to a certain system of teaching, to have a certain type of child. But what if our child isn't like that and does not work well within that system? Ahh, the blessings of homeschooling!


So many times I have seen questions raised about fitting the child to the book, well, I think the book ought to be fitted to the child. Teach that child, and not the book. How many times have I struggled to help one of my children to understand something only to end up frustrated because they didn't "get it." Well, in hindsight now, I can see that I was just trying to get through it and get it in their brains. That is not really teaching at all.


The fear of my child not "getting it" can be a powerfully negative thing. The fear is what is ruling me then - and ruling our homeschool. How is that helpful? It isn't. I think that is true in so many areas of our life where faith is involved. I have to have faith that my child will be able to read, write, balance their checkbook, hold an intelligent conversation - in essence to function in society - when at the age of 6, 8, or 10, they may be struggling with that specific concept. It is a weighty responsibility to be the teacher when so much is at stake.


What do I fall back on for strength during those times of struggle? Is it my frustration that propels us forward, that spurs learning and fosters growth? Hardly. It is our faith! Our faith that God created this beautiful child, at just this time in history, at this very moment, to struggle with this subject, to teach us both patience, wisdom, love, and the unique quality of each and every one of us. To reveal the depth of the power of what we are doing at home - meeting that child right where he or she happens to be.


I am involved in a very powerful and personal journey with my children, God is with us in every moment, teaching me right along with my little ones. His loving hand is moving in our lives. Please, God, help me not to miss your moments of true instruction!