28 December, 2005

Gorgeous sunset

On the way home from dropping the kids off at youth group, this was my view! Three to five minutes before I got home to grab the camera, it was larger and even more stunning, although less pink. I prefer the pink. It looked as if the field behind us was on fire, which is a very real possibility these days, as dry as it is around here.

26 December, 2005

First born's Birthday today

Seventeen years ago today...

I was resting comfortably after having our first baby with the help of an awesome midwife. That tiny, sweet little 6 lbs. 13 oz. baby boy has turned out to be 6 feet 2 inches tall (at last measurement). He also sleeps more than he used to! It is hard to believe that he will soon be making his own way in the world.


But, I think he'll do well!

p.s. He still loves guitars :-)

23 December, 2005


This is our newest ornament this year, made by one of my American Lit. students. Isn't it well-done?

This sweet locket was given to Hubby and me by his Aunt Gail, who just passed away two weeks ago, on Christmas 1984 and says "First Christmas Together"

The sled was made by someone in our Jr. High youth group in Oklahoma in early marriage. The Loon ornament beside it is a memento from spending time on Roosevelt Lake in Minnesota.

A memento of our Messiah sing-alongs in which we participate.

I bought this scroll-y cross last year. It is one of my favorite ornaments.

The Moose is from our trip to Minnesota in the summer of 2003 with our friends who have just recently moved back there.

22 December, 2005

Favorite Ornaments

Big favorites, above from our life in Boston: a light-up Fannieul Hall, and just behind it with a burgundy ribbon, a clear glass bulb filled with "Boston Snow," both given to me by a co-worker in the Chiropractic office where I worked b/c.

This manger scene was made by our 17 yo son when he was about five!

Home made felt heart made by our daughter when she was eleven.

The above are from different artsy friends of mine. I love them! They are just like our two cats, Mittens and Tigger!

This is a grouping of some of our favorites: carved bird from an antique store, glass candycane from our trip to Venice, poinsettia star is Andrewcles' favorite, below it is the scripture from Isaiah, and Handel's Messiah: And His name shall be called...Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God...

20 December, 2005

Christmas "Letters"

Forgive my shallow post. That's all I seem to have time for right now. How do you feel about Christmas letters? Do you write one every year? Do you enjoy getting the family updates from others? Some people just do not like them...they say they seem braggish. Some send straightforward, totally honest and even depressing updates.

I've sent out family update/Christmas letters once. Then another year, I typed one up and never sent it out with the Christmas cards or the New Year's cards. Maybe I'm just not a very good friend or daughter/sister. (lol)

Anyone have some good advice for me regarding the sharing of news and updates (both the good and the not-so-good reality moments; not too dark, and not too "braggy" of course)?

I think it's one of the things that brings me down about this time of year. It's that ole' Ghost of Christmas Expectations...and trying to stay balanced by not seeing only through rose-colored glasses.

Hey, for some this time of year is fun because of food, presents, and football playoffs, you know...the things that count. *says with a smirk*


18 December, 2005

Christmas Poem

In memory of John Greenleaf Whittier, who was born on Dec. 17th, I share this interesting poem!

By John Greenleaf Whittier

"ALL hail!" the bells of Christmas rang,
"All hail!" the monks at Christmas sang,
The merry monks who kept with cheer
The gladdest day of all their year.

But still apart, unmoved thereat,
A pious elder brother sat
Silent, in his accustomed place,
With God's sweet peace upon his face.

"Why sitt'st thou thus?" his brethren cried.
"It is the blessed Christmas-tide;
The Christmas lights are all aglow,
The sacred lilies bud and blow.

"Above our heads the joy-bells ring,
Without the happy children sing,
And all God's creatures hail the morn
On which the holy Christ was born!

"Rejoice with us; no more rebuke
Our gladness with thy quiet look."
The gray monk answered: "Keep, I pray,
Even as ye list, the Lord's birthday.

"Let heathen Yule fires flicker red
Where thronged refectory feasts are spread;
With mystery-play and masque and mime
And wait-songs speed the holy time!

"The blindest faith may haply save;
The Lord accepts the things we have;
And reverence, howsoe'er it strays,
May find at last the shining ways.

"They needs must grope who cannot see,
The blade before the ear must be;
As ye are feeling I have felt,
And where ye dwell I too have dwelt.

"But now, beyond the things of sense,
Beyond occasions and events,
I know, through God's exceeding grace,
Release from form and time and place.

"I listen, from no mortal tongue,
To hear the song the angels sung;
And wait within myself to know
The Christmas lilies bud and blow.

'The outward symbols disappear
From him whose inward sight is clear;
And small must be the choice of days
To him who fills them all with praise!

"Keep while you need it, brothers mine,
With honest zest your Christmas sign,
But judge not him who every morn
Feels in his heart the Lord Christ born!"

16 December, 2005

Beethoven's Birthday

Happy Birtdhay to Beethoven, my first (as a child) favorite composer.

Also remembering Jane Austen...today marks her birthday, as well.

Not much else to say, as we have music to be ready for tomorrow! I get to help conduct the children's choir...Fun!!

14 December, 2005

Song to Sing

Since we are on holiday (of sorts) from Friday classes until the second week of January, I have a tiny bit more time (but not much) to sing a special at church again. On Sunday, it will be this song...

Holy Lamb of God

vs. 1
A virgin cried when You were born, tears of joy and tears of pain
As Heaven’s angels watched in wonder

How could you, The Ancient One, in the frame of man be bound
Lying there with feet and hands, fully God and fully man

vs. 2
Who could see and who could know You had left Your Kingdom’s throne
Baby crying in a manger

You had come to give your life as a holy sacrifice
Nails would pierce Your feet and hands, for every heart and every man

Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You

We were blind and lost but you came to rescue us

And we thank you Holy lamb of God

vs. 3:
Now You are the Risen One, all You came to do You’ve done
On this Christmas we remember

How Love came down to set us free from our sin and from our fear
Lord of all, we bow our hearts to the wonder that you are


Holy Lamb of God, how we love You
Shepherd of our hearts, how we praise You

We were blind and lost, but You came to rescue us

And we thank You Holy Lamb of God

(repeat chorus)

13 December, 2005

Herman Melville

In my American Lit. class this week and next~

The students and I are reading: Herman Melville, and his last work: Billy Bud (an annotated version!). Here is another good link on Melville, with critical essays.

Currently watching: Moby Dick, with Gregory Peck as Captain Ahab. This work was not appreciated by his readers (predominantly in Britain) in his lifetime; not for the first thirty years after it was written, for it was such a departure from his first successful works, Typee and Omoo.

Pieces of Eight

Not the coinage...but that which was formerly known as the "seven sevens" game.

I've been tagged by my friend Queen Shenaynay, (whom I haven't gotten to spend time with for far too long) from the Beehive. She made the game a little more interesting by adding to the rules ;-).
Being a pretty good follower, here is my list, patterned after hers, which she began thusly:

"Eight comes after seven...
Well, honestly now -- did you really think I'd play by the rules?"

8 things I’d like to do before I die:

~See my brothers, sisters and their families, but especially my children, grandchildren and great+grandchildren walk with the Lord; to be the matriarch at the family reunions, with all the family singing and worshipping together, as my 99 yo Granny did before me
~float in a boat down the Amazon River
~drink coffee in Alaska and Hop over to Russia for a tour
~have more self-discipline to study, not just read, my Bible every day
~be a better communicator
~know where my foster sisters are...all seven of them.
~sing on a project that sells well on a national (or even international!) level or
~write a book that isn't just "more of the same" which hundreds upon hundreds of authors have written about before.
~extra: to spend money without having to give it a second thought as to whether I can spend it or not

8 things I can’t do (but would like to):

~scale a large rock or rock wall without any problems!
~own some gorgeous, scenic property in another country, preferably near rolling hills or mountains
~see just fine without glasses
~be totally consistent, but that's too predictable, and a bit boring
~stay focused while preparing lessons quickly, even now I'm supposed to be preparing for my American Lit. class instead of playing this game!
~keep to one point. I'm too global and random
~juggle (literally and someitmes mentally)
~let myself off the hook sometimes

8 things that attracted me to my husband:

~He played a jumbo Guild guitar (still does, but prefers a smaller Martin, now) a la William Ackerman or Alex Degrassi. He plays beautiful songs without words, many that he composed himself.
~His commitment to live like Jesus Christ. He is a peacemaker in most every way. He wanted to work with kids in some sort of ministry even before I met him. He started out as a youth minister and became a fulltime High School English teacher after we married.
~He loved traveling and camping; talked of visiting Europe again (we'd both already done that, but once is not enough!), so we had that...and a couple of German friends, in common.
~His incredible wit and his laugh!
~He's very good at writing "silly songs" on the fly. He's not bad at poetry, either :-)
~He is extremely gracious with me, and treats me well. He takes me to the symphony, encourages me to pursue my interests, and to travel still, (without him sometimes). He makes musical instruments for me, the family, and even for friends now...AH, what more could a gal ask for?
~He likes listening to the radio show "A Prarie Home Companion" with me (in the 80's, and now).
~He is a dreamer, but also a realist

8 things I say most often:

~BOYS!! or Jordanandrew (said as one word, [grin]
~what? (as in: Are you talking to me? It's that juggling or switching gears thing)
~WHAT!!? (as in: What *now*?)
~I'm getting in the car, now...(we should have left five minutes ago)
~Listen! (said quietly, usually for birds singing or a gorgeous piece of music on classical radio)
~wash hands!
~(I'm) washing reds!!
~Get off my computer...*Please* just give me the courtesy of asking me first...

8 books I really like -

I was late coming into the enjoyment of reading. My first introduction to one of my favorite authors, Francis Schaeffer, was through his daughter's book:
~How To Be Your Own Selfish Pig (and other ways you've been brainwashed) by Susan Schaeffer Macauley
~several other books by Francis or Edith Schaeffer.
~Mere Christianity and others by C. S. Lewis
Pride and Prejudice and others by Jane Austen
~Tokien's Lord of the Rings trilogy
~Little Women, Jo's Boys, Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
~The Number One Ladies' Detective Agency series by Alexander McCall Smith
~Innocents Abroad by Mark Twain

(more than) 8 movies I could (and do) watch over and over:

~The Princess Bride
~Secondhand Lions
~Sense & Sensibility
~Pride & Prejudice (almost any version)
~Oh Brother, Where Art Thou
~Much Ado About Nothing
(I should say, just about anything that Emma Thompson or Kenneth Branaugh have been in)
~Enchanted April (We are also fans, Queen Shenaynay)
~Howard's End
~Les Miserables
~Tea With Mussolini

Adding to this list:

Movies that are fantastic, but hard to watch more than once:

~The Patriot
~The Mission
~Schindler's list
~La Vita e Bella

I tag: the oldest son and anyone else who wants to play

12 December, 2005


"If we are really, and always, and equally ready to do whatsoever the King appoints, all the trials and vexations arising from any change in His appointments, great or small, simply do not exist. If He appoints me to work there, shall I lament that I am not to work here? If He appoints me to wait in-doors to-day, am I to be annoyed because I am not to workout-of-doors? If I meant to write His messages this morning, shall Igrumble because He sends interrupting visitors, rich or poor, to whom I am to speak them, or 'show kindness' for His sake, or at least obey His command, 'Be courteous?' If all my members are really at His disposal, why should I be put out if to-day's appointment is some simple work for my hands or errands for my feet, instead of some seemingly more important doing of head or tongue?"


10 December, 2005

Aunt Gail

Today, the Booksncoffeehaus honors the life of Hubby's Aunt Gail. She passed away this Thursday after a brave battle with ovarian cancer.

Her service on Saturday was an interesting contrast between speakers, but the most tender, heart-felt, and intelligent eulogies were given by Uncle Alvin and Hubby's cousin, Derek, an Anglican minister.

With closure, we all watched as her casket was lowered into the ground, and we all got to cast dust into the grave...very moving...

We were then able to go across the lane and visit Hubby's grandmother's grave and put flowers on it with the kids and Hubby's sister. These are important things to do with the younger generation...


08 December, 2005

Christmas Music and Festive Decorating

I have to (get to!) listen to music every day, and Christmas time is no exception. The selections are different, though. They're definitely more "Old World" traditional, and often more obscure than what most people listen to at this time of year. I savor the sounds: the somber, reflective, and sometimes melancholy music of the Christmas season, and our local classical radio station plays many of these beautiful choral pieces and the more obscure works at this time of year. They played one the other day that was music set to a Christina Rossetti poem about Winter...I wrote it down, now I can't find it. It had nice harmonies and resolutions-- Ah! Wonderful! Oh, here it is: In The Bleak Midwinter.

There are so many good CD's available for Christmas listening pleasure, that it truly is difficult to narrow down the favorites. I grew up listening to three, and only three Christmas albums: Julie Andrews, Andy Williams, and Glen Campbell, complete with his reading of "'Twas the Night Before Christmas." It was my personal tradition from very early childhood to put an album on the record player and turn off all the lights, except for the Christmas tree, sit in the olive green rocker (sometimes with my foster sister, sometimes alone) and just listen, rock, and stare at the lights. Julie Andrews' voice was so heavenly, and Andy Williams' vocals so festive and smooth. Glen Campbell was enjoyable, too, and this was Dad's contribution to the collection, with his flare for country music.

This is what is spinning in my humble CD player right now:

Mannheim Steamroller ~ A Fresh Aire Christmas
Up Next: Andrea Bocelli ~ Sacred Arias

We've been cleaning all day so we could get the Christmas tree and Schtuff down from the attic. Hubster, aka King Kong, was home from school today as the Metroplex closes down with the hint of ice on the ground...to protect all the drivers from other drivers who are from the south and cannot drive on black ice! hehehe

So he was the taskmaster and got us in order (mostly)...enough to get out the Christmas and winter decorations. So we kept the coffee on all day, along with lots of hot chocolate, marshmallows, vegie-beef stew and cornbread.

Other favorite albums we listened to today:

Handel's Messiah ~ Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Chorus - Robert Shaw
Michael W. Smith's Christmastime
" " " Christmas (absolutely fantastic)
The Carols of Christmas ~ A Windham Hill Collection
The Bach Variations ~ A Windham Hill Sampler
George Winston's December

Now I must get back to hanging ornaments on the tree, since I finally got all the lights to work...all 1000 of them. I know, it's a little bright in here ;-) The last two ornaments to go on are Fannieul Hall (Boston) and a clear glass ornament with "Boston Snow" crystals on dried "grass" or "brush" in it. They are both from 1987, given to me by a co-worker, and they are among our family favorites. The kiddos put their special ornaments on first, then it's a frenzy, in which Momma has to tell them (mostly Andrewcles) to slow down. Then I make sure the colors are spread out and balanced well (snicker) so there might be a little bit of last minute adjusting going on.

I enjoy the memories associated with many of these ornaments on the tree, gifts given by family...like the giant locket given to us by Hubby's Aunt Gail in 1984 that says, "First Christmas Together". there are also ornaments that are gifts from friends, students, or mementos bought on travels. It reminds me to be thankful and pray for certain people we've known, or blessings we received throughout the years. What are some of your favorite or special ornaments, and why?

07 December, 2005


Dear Daughter and I have just begun reading Walden, by Henry David Thoreau. Our copies are one hardback and one softcover, both "Library of America" editions. The softcover has a thorough introduction by Edward Hoagland, whereas the hardcover, boxed edition (from Hubster~King Kong's collection) does not. But, it contains Cape Cod and Maine Woods in their entirety. For a helpful website with text of Walden and parallel analysis of one Thoreauvian's narration notes, click here. Scroll to the bottom of that page for more links to continue through the text.

Walden Pond is certainly beautiful. We've spent warm, sunny afternoons napping there, or in another favorite nature preserve, Rock Meadow, just down the street from where we lived in Belmont. I don't know if I could live (read: survive) for two years and two months (especially alone) in a cabin in the woods during a blustry and freezing New England winter. I have romantic notions, but none as deluded or idealistic as the Transcendentalists! At least, I hope not ;-).

All this reading and study of the New England Romanticism movement convinces me more each week that it is time (yes, I've said it here before) to take our children back to our stomping grounds of early marraige for a long visit.

Off to read more, and do some comparative study of Transcendental themes/philosphy by the reading of Emerson's Nature essay...it's been far too long since I've read it before.

As I mentioned in a previous post, go read Transcendental Wild Oats, by Louisa May Alcott, for a hilarious, satirical peek into the experiences of a Utopian experiment during the heyday of the New England Transcendentalists.


06 December, 2005

Night Noises Everywhere

...in which certain sounds made their way into my dream about King Kong in the wee hours of the morning.

Oldest son Ansel, soon to be 17, has been working on a project for a certain Science teacher and program related to hubby's school. Certain software programs were not working as he was accustomed to, from his videography experiences with his job this summer for the solar car team and race.

Said teen was up throughout the night editing and waiting (snoozing) patiently over each step of the rendering and movie editing process.

Then I had this dream of the great King Kong...the aforementioned teen had been asleep briefly for only about twenty minutes. Throughout the night, he was trying to be as quiet as possible. Still, I do not sleep well if my children are still up studying or working on a school project.

My dream was an exciting one, very much like the old movie from my childhood. We were in a building, my family, some friends and I, and King Kong was there, too, complete with the building up of intense drum beats (rather like the Irish clog dancing? huh? Oh, I now recognize it as the double timpani action from our evening at the symphony this past weekend listening to Mahler's Symphony #1 in D major ~ snicker, snort). There was this rumbling and growling from Old Kong...the building was going to be brought down by the feared beast! I pleadedwith everyone to leave the building, for it was coming down and we must all run! I struggled to gather everyone, and help lead them out to safety...the beats kept beating and the rumbles kept rumbling. I could not get everyone out of the building, no matter how hard I tried. It was as if they could not hear me...then upon waking, I continued to to hear the rumbling.........which.......turned out to be.............someone's snoring ;-).

It was not my own!

I shall now dub Hubster "King Kong," affectionately.

{huge grin}



Blogger was behaving oddly last night, so I decided to change my template and try out a different format. I really like my old "scribe" parchment template, but, I think it was time for a fresh, new look. In the process, I lost all my comments! Argh :-\.

I'll get my links back up, and my blog ring html sometime today.

05 December, 2005

December Doldrums

I was feeling the first blast of December Doldrums yesterday, due in part to my frustration over having to be in a store (Wal-Mart this time) during the crazy time of frenzied shopping weekend for many people. Therefore, I was inundated by some of the more negative sides to this time of year...those things which I try to avoid the whole season through, if possible.

The day began cold, gray, and blustry outside (sans much-needed rain, mind you) and I'd overslept. Since some of the family had to arrive at church early, I would not be ready in time, so I went to second service. I got to sit with a friend and her hubby, who is one of our elders. That was a nice treat, as they've had to travel quite a bit lately, and it was good to see them. At the same time, though, some families have recently stopped going to our church, and therefore it is a little sad not to see them there anymore.

I've shared a bit of background to set up this lovely poem hubby wrote and sent to me today.

Oh Thou Dearest Liebfrau,

When life doth blast thee with cold, dry winds,

And all of your coffee beans worm-eaten,
Then mayest thou remember the love of thy youth,
Who wilt always fetch thee new beans,
For my heart like the sun comes up new in the morning,
And like steam always rises and rises,
For only externals sag down, down, down
In Adam's (gravity's) curse;
In you, sweet love, sweet love, sweet love,
The sun rises and sets in my heart with your smile,
And, pray, let not this cheese distract you from me.


The Hubs

He also sent an Emily Jane Bronte quote:

"No coward soul is mine, no trembler in the world's storm-troubled sphere: I see Heaven's glories shine, And Faith shines equal, arming me from Fear."

I think I am a coward when it comes to shopping at Christmas time...even for simple things such as bread or TP! Thank the Lord, I did find it a relief to qualify for the "express" checkout.

01 December, 2005

Cerebral Enhance-o-tron

Update: Inspired by his favorite cartoon, Calvin & Hobbes, and with the help of a metal pasta strainer and some old cords and earphones, Andrewcles re-created... a type of thinking cap!

Virtual Toblerone for anyone who knows what this is!

Our 10 yo son created one all his very own. He is our busy, distracted child. Once he can settle down and focus, it is astounding what he can actually accomplish or create!

I'll share a photo soon :-)


30 November, 2005

Mark Twain

Happy Birthday to Mark Twain, born on this date in 1835. This Missouri native perplexes me. We will be studying him in January in American Lit. Is his wittiness hiding true bitterness? Or is it just cynicism? Some would say yes to bitterness. He is still funny.

What is your favorite Twain work? I enjoy Innocents Abroad, reading snippets here and there, when I get a chance, such as waiting for kids when it's my turn to drive in the Wednesday carpool. Hubby used to read it aloud to me, just for a laugh...especially the barbs about old relics in Europe, since I love to travel, people watch; I enjoy old world sites and charm.

Good Twain quotes:

"The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can't read them."

Having three brothers, a multitude of nephews and great-nephews, and three sons of my own, I like this quote:

"There comes a time in every rightly constructed boy's life that he has a raging desire to go somewhere and dig for hidden treasure."

29 November, 2005

Author Birthdays

"'Stay' is a charming word in a friend's vocabulary." ~Louisa May Alcott

Happy Birthday to Louisa May Alcott, born in Germantown, Pennsylvania in 1832. She died two days after the death of her father, Bronson Alcott, in March of 1888.
She is my favorite American author. I think I'd like to study her in Graduate school. side note: There's so much I'd like to read and study, can you relate?

Take a virtual tour of Orchard House in Concord, Massachusetts. Read her satirical work, Transcendental Wild Oats, which is said to be a reflection of her own Father and Mother's disagreements about living in the Transcendentalists' Utopian Experiment at Fruitlands. Read this interesting analysis at the Domestic Goddess website.

Even so, Louisa did love and admire her friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and wrote about another side of him that the public did not get to see or know in her Reminiscences of Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Switching gears from Alcott and the Transcendentalists, those 19th century writers and thinkers that we are studying in American Literature these days, today also marks the birthdate of C. S. Lewis in 1898. I came to know about and read Lewis for the first time in my college Philosophy class. The first book of his that I read was Screwtape Letters, then The Great Divorce, and Mere Christianity.

The Professor of this class, Mr. Parmer, was probably my favorite Prof. of my college career. He and his wife, whom I had as a writing Prof., opened up the small world in my mind to the opportunities and possibilites (that's a cliché, but so true) that I could only wish for and dream about in my youth....missions, travelling, learning languages, experiencing the Lord's church internationally, just to name a few. They also opened up the world of great books for me.

The day is fleeting, and I've been sidetracked once again*, and I must get back to reading with the boys, and to the duties of the household.


*by my teenaged son who wants me to help him hack into his sister's computer while she is out of town babysitting for a few days. How could she have the nerve to put a password on her computer while she is away? Can you say "boundaries?" Ahem.

28 November, 2005

Home School Helps ~ High School


This is not exhaustive or conclusive, just a starting point, based on the (probably biased) opinions and experience of an eclectic family who have homeschooled from the beginning with our four children, ages 10 to 17 (in a few weeks).

Tonight is our local support group's monthly meeting. I'll be helping out, leading two groups, one on "Things we wish we'd known when first starting out homeschooling," and "Homeschooling for High School."

Since it's a rather open and flexible format that I'll be facilitating~allowing for time for others to share their thoughts, ideas, and to ask questions~it is harder to plan what handouts to take, and what highlights I want to be sure to include.

I am posting it here, just fyc. Please add your own ideas and advice in the comments, if you'd like! This certainly is not complete or comprehensive, but just a starting place.


How to make sure your student is able to study a Subject you are not good at as your children get older:

You might be faced with teaching a subject that you are weak in or never learned. Here are some ideas to help you as your children move into high school level courses. I'm also a believer in adding supplemental video clips, games, where possible, recitations, etc. to help make some of this material more enjoyable, from time to time. I would prefer that students make their own connections, but how can they, if we do not introduce some rich and deep works to them. We should place a rich feast before them, that they may taste morsels of many different dishes. (Thank you, Charlotte Mason)

1. Learn the material along with your child, trying to stay at least a week ahead of them in the assigned reading or work.
2. Team up with another homeschooling family or two and team teach the subjects you're strong in.
3. Contact local support groups for co-operative teaching possibilities.
4. Hire a tutor to teach the subject, possibly a local college student.
5. Use a video/DVD course, or supplement with audio or DVD helps, such as lectures from other sources. The Teaching Company is one I've used as a resource. If you subscribe to their newsletter, they inform you of free lectures you can download at their site.
6. Use a computer course.
7. See if the local junior college offers this course to high school students.
8. Take the class at a local junior college along with your high school student.
9. Check into online schools and the possibility of taking just one course.

Solicit help from a friend who is strong in the subject.

1. Every subject doesn't have to be mastered before high school graduation, but exposure will make college easier. Many times college and high school credit can be earned simultaneously by taking the course at the junior college.

Some families may be curious as to what is generally required or desired (by prospective colleges) that our children take in high school.

A couple of good examples are posted on the
Donna Young website and at CollegeBoard.com.
The CollegeBoard.com website even has a neat little print-off of semester courses, called the
High School planning worksheet for you or your high schooler to keep track of. Don't neglect the importance of extracurricular activites. Boost your study skills here.

Look at these time management tips for high schoolers. Find ACT test prep help here.

When I was in high school, it helped that I had four years of High School Spanish, had won a handful of medals in Spanish State Competition for composition, sight reading and poetry recitation, but also that I was the Spanish Club president my senior year. The college I attended offered me 18 hours of College Spanish Credit toward a minor in Spanish, without my having to take one test.

Know what requirements your students' preferred college choices have, regarding years of foreign language, Science, etc., recommended. Also which test scores do they require or prefer to use?
ACT testing? SAT? And what about CLEP tests?

An alternative to College that some families consider is either College at home or Apprenticeships.

Info for preparing grades for the final transcript:

Figuring grades~ percentage and letter grades:

Here's One Way:

1. Correct the paper or test
2. Determine the number of total questions.
3. Subtract the number of missed questions, and count the number of correct answers.
4. Take the number of correct questions and divide by the total number of questions.
5. Multiply this number by 100 to turn it into a percentage. Typical grade scale: 90-100% = A; 80-89% = B; 70-79% = C; 60-69% = D; 59% and below = F

Add all scores for a term and divide this number by the total number of scores. This will be the term or semester average. You can give as much weight to any particular assignment or quiz that you wish. Determining the final grade, then, will require more multiplication of percentages!

For example, in my Spanish classes, I have given 20% weight to the final grade in the following areas: Tests, quizes, and class participation. Daily (Weekly) lesson assignments account for a full 40% of the semester grade, thereby giving each student up to one more full percentage point in their final grade. Extra credit is added in there, somewhere. Extra credit on a test counts toward a final test grade. General extra credit given for participation in a Latin American or Spanish Cultural experience, or for reciting a Bible verse in Spanish, or for singing a song in Spanish. In my classes, this will count toward the total final percentage, and may bump someone up a letter grade, if they were so close to the break already.

Some things I wish I had known..
What I wish I'd not let myself be duped into believing ;-)

That just because we homeschool does not guarantee that we won't have behavioral or even
serious heart issues with our teens!! Read that again, if you must. We are not guaranteed perfect little geniuses that will respond pleasantly to our parenting at all times.

This is the time in their lives when they are trying to figure out what their talents are, who (and "whose") they are. We can pranet, guide, and love them, but they may still raise their voices sometimes. Is it to be tolerated? Well, no. Some things to consider in our own quiet time...are we exasperating them to wrath? Maybe we should think long and hard about that, and humbly pray that the Lord give us grace when we ourselves are not in His will. Some frustrations and lashing out are because we've put undo expectations on them, or not given them clear communication, enough mercy and grace. Sometimes, they haven't learned how to vent their anger in a healthy, Godly way, and they don't take time to make good choices, they just react. Sometimes, it may just be a case of hormonal imbalances...theirs and mine! In my limited experience with a 17 yos, 14.5 yod, 12.5 yos, and 10.5 yos, They are hitting the "aggravated and moody" hormonal times closer to 14 (daughter) and 15 (son). Some people have said they notice hormonal moodiness sometimes as early as 10, but we have NOT experienced that here.

Well, I'm going to get off the soapbox, and think of a few bullet points, instead.

~ Stay in The Word and pray; keep your relationship with the Lord strong.
~ make sure you're all getting enough sleep, keeping regular hours, not wild, odd hours of getting to bed and awaking.

~ spend special time with your spouse
~ make time for yourself, to include some hobby time during the week
~ pay attention to your children's and your own cues; be attentive for symptoms of stress or burnout
~ consider that you may have hormonal imbalances that need to be dealt with
~ make use of your children's giftings when you help encourage them toward a career or life calling. Find other adults who have a career in these given fields and talk with them about advising you and your children.
~ Encourage appropriate friendships
~ Do things that promote their spiritual discipleship
~ keep up with record keeping for your high schoolers' transcript or portfolio, so that you won't have to make it all up at the end of the semester, end of the year, or even at the end of your students' high school career! It's much easier to accomplish this important task, a little at a time.
~ subscribe to CollegeBoard.com to keep yourself up to date on all the important testing dates and scholarship opportunities available to your students

Other recommended resources:

James Stobaugh's SAT Prep course for the Christian student and real sample SAT's
Inge Cannon's Transcript Bootcamp seminar or tapes

Perhaps I'll update with more, later...It's time to get ready. What other information or tips have you found important and useful?


27 November, 2005

off to war

Yes, another nephew is leaving for Iraq tonight or tomorrow. {sigh}
We are all very proud of him, for many reasons. He is older than probably all of the recruits who are in his group (he's 25, married, with two boys) and he is calm and stable. Therefore, the guys look up to him as a big brother or mentor. He has such an opportunity to minister at this time, to all those around him. We pray for his strength and safety, and that the Lord brings him and his battallion home safe and sound in 2007. So, we're off to Fort Hood this afternoon for the big troops send-off.

(don't mind the chair back behind me, or the odd shadow...I have not grown an extra hip over the holiday ;-)

Do not take anything for granted, folks...


25 November, 2005

Texas Autumn

At Thanksgiving time in Texas, the leaves are all finally turning. The weather fluctuates from 60's to almost 80 degrees. It's a good thing to have mild weather in which to walk off all our Thanksgiving indulgences.

Family is still about town, brothers, their kids, their inlaws, and their grandkids. They're coming over for dessert and coffee today, to be together before another nephew heads off to Iraq with the Army on Monday.

"And now, with autumn’s moonlit eves,
Its harvest-time has come,
We pluck away the frosted leaves,
And bear the treasure home."

~From The Corn Song by John Greenleaf Whittier, fireside poet

24 November, 2005


From Wester's 1828 Dictionary

THANKSGIV'ING, ppr. Rendering thanks for good received.

THANKSGIV'ING, n. The act of rendering thanks or expressing gratitude for favors or mercies.

Every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if received with thanksgiving. 1 Tim.4.

1. A public celebration of divine goodness; also, a day set apart for religious services, specially to acknowledge the goodness of God, either in any remarkable deliverance from calamities or danger, or in the ordinary dispensation of his bounties. The practice of appointing an annual thanksgiving originated in New England.

thanksgiving is also found in 13 definitions:

This Thanksgiving, we are grateful for many things ~ Blessings received and lessons learned, people in our lives, moments, pets, beautiful scenery, memories.

GRA'TEFUL, a. [from L. gratus. See Grace.]

1. Having a due sense of benefits; kindly disposed towards one from whom a favor has been received; willing to acknowledge and repay benefits; as a grateful heart.
2. Agreeable; pleasing; acceptable; gratifying; as a grateful present; a grateful offering.
3. Pleasing to the taste; delicious; affording pleasure; as food or drink grateful offering.
Now golden fruits on loaded branches shine,
And grateful clusters swell with floods of wine

GRAT'ITUDE, n. [L. gratitudo, from gratus, pleasing. See Grace.]

An emotion of the heart, excited by a favor or benefit received; a sentiment of kindness or good will towards a benefactor; thankfulness. Gratitude is an agreeable emotion, consisting in or accompanied with good will to a benefactor,and a disposition to make a suitable return of benefits or services, or when no return can be made, with a desire to see the benefactor prosperous and happy. Gratitude is a virtue of the highest excellence, as it implies a feeling and generous heart, and a proper sense of duty.
The love of God is the sublimest gratitude.

23 November, 2005

Zoo Trip

We have not been to the zoo since our high schoolers were young, therefore, our 10 and 12 yo have not been since they were too young to remember. We went this week, as Androcles wanted primarily to see the primates! JAudubon wanted to see the reptiles. We all enjoyed the tigers! They were very active, playing with large toys, growling, and swimming in the water. We got to practice our Spanish, as well. We were in the minority, and I welcomed the practice. The cutest, 3 yo boy was calling the tiger a "gato." His mama snickered and said "no gatos, pero tigres!" I told him "los tigres son muy grandes," as I was squatting down to get a better view of the tigers under a railing.

The nature exchange is an educational building there that we need to visit again. You can take in items from your nature walks, including your nature journal, and get points for these items. Then you may, in turn, save all your points for something larger or something for a particular collection you might have. For example, a large pine-cone not native to your area, or a large, fancy shell, rocks and minerals, or fossils, even a meteorite!

They had a neat collection of bottles of sand from all over the country and the world. That was fascinating. They didn't have any from Italy though, or the Mediterranean, which surprised me. The sand came in many colors and textures, from white to orange, and fine to miniature shell-like. Very interesting.

Well, as soon as I get the picture of one of the primates transferred, I will post it. He was doing tricks for us!

Happy preparations for your Day of Thanksgiving, all!


17 November, 2005

Next Restoration

This is for a friend for whom my daughter works as her kids' babysitter. It was an old book that S's mother and grandmother had, for which they had made a make-shift cover. I'm happy to be able to work on another vintage book, now that hs co-op is almost finished for 2005. Just one more day to go!

This lovely tome needs new boards (these are not original) and several signatures need to be mended and re-sewn. I've already removed the old, nasty tape...just after I took these pictures, in fact. It still needs more cleaning...getting the old adhesive off the spine of the text block. I'll create a new spine for it, and cover the boards in a nice, dark red bookcloth.

I have not yet figured out how to fit in handcrafts for myself into our schedule this fall, since my bookbinding teacher moved in late September.

Ah, the smell (not a musty or mildewy one, mind you) of an old book! Or...half-a-library library full of them!


15 November, 2005

Newest shelves

Several of the Booksncoffeehaus readers asked me to post pictures of the (originally unfinished) whitewashed shelves I recently worked on, so here they are~

This is where our wasteful floor-to-ceiling corner fireplace used to be. Hubby and our 10 and 14 yo kids sledge-hammered it out this summer. It had leaked time and again where the chimney and roofline came together, and hubby faithfully kept repairing it over the thirteen years that we've lived here. Hubster and the kiddos also put down the laminate floor...all while I was in Tennessee! I came home to a nice surprise. Summer school money is nearly always used to buy one improvement for the house each summer, since we can pay cash as we go. We'd owned the laminate flooring for about a year before it got put in, (grin). Such are the home improvement projects in our old house :-). If you click and enlarge the photo, you'll notice that the wall needs to be sanded in a place or two, then I need to do the faux finish that is on the rest of the LR wall. Maybe that will get done over this Christmas break, along with replacing the base trim of all the walls in the room.

I spent the week of fall break last month whitewashing, sanding, and brushing on layers of poly-crylic to these. Hubby put them together as soon as I got them finished! Yeah! These contain mostly Americana, Nature books, bookbinding and restoration books, my Charlotte Mason and Edith Schaeffer books, some art and a Children's classic set (old Scribners set, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth). *All* of the furniture and goodies were found at thrift stores (even the computer armoire), other than the unfinished bookshelves. Most all the books are used, as well. Some free! Our twenty volume set of The Annals of America was only $10 total. Most of hubby's Library of America books were bargain, and some were free for his contribution of reveiwing some of them for the complany.

Two of my exhibit photos from Izamal, Yucatán are resting up against the doors. I have yet to decide which wall I'm going to put them up on. It's a matter of wall-space for bookshelves, or wall-space for photos, etc.

Do you see my big, furry Tigger in the lower left-hand corner? This is the largest room in our one-story cottage, but I love it. I am thankful for what we do have. Making better use of some of our vertical wall space helps us maximize the smaller rooms in the rest of the house.

Maybe I'll have this place totally organized and efficient by the time the kiddos graduate!
...I really do prefer organized (but warm and homey) efficiency. I confess, it does not come to me naturally. Decorating does, but keeping things organized...well...Those who know me very well know my struggle. But yes, I do INDEED prefer it, but have a ways to go...

I tend to be a messy worker whether it's writing and research, bookbinding or quilting. I tend to spread out a project and like to see all my resources visibly while I work. It's out of sight, out of mind, for me. If we had a workroom in the house, or workshop in the backyard, it would help, immensely!

14 November, 2005

Pride & Prejudice

This 'n that...a review in scenes of no particular order.

My best friend and I went to see this new version at our local independent film house last night. My kids were right! It was fantastic in so many ways. Be warned, spoilers ahead!

For starters, all the scenery is much more agrarian and realistic...in a most romantic sense. It contains an artistic feast for the senses! The first public dance scene in Meryton seems more like it takes place in a rural community, than perhaps other film versions. The people are very simply dressed, their hair is a little mussed-up and unkempt, as if they've been dancing all evening, and they don't appear to have on make-up...except you know that they must, for filming purposes. You can see freckles on many of the people, which is more realistic, I think.

I've seen the BBC, the A & E versions, the old, short, southern belle version, even the Wishbone version (haha). We own the A & E. This new version is really nice, and has some neat transitions and absolutely stunning cinematography; very artistic and beautiful. I loved it for it's freshness.

Missing characters: Darcy's party...only Bingley's single sister is depicted in this version. The storyline didn't dwell on the militia men, either. They were able to highlight other areas which I think are important to the story...such as the various scenes of family almost always spying and listening in on conversations at the doorways. I think the movie does a nice job of getting across the pride, vanity, and the prejudice of the main characters.

Wardrobe and makeup did a decent job of making Keira Knightly more plain. Really. She was almost too messy and plain. The actress who plays Jane (Rosamund Pike) is absolutely beautiful. Mr. Collins is funny, and not bad-looking in this verison. His lines, and the spirit of his character are intact. Can you tell that I like this version? I think it will stand on a lot of its own merits. I think some of the classic, quotable lines are delivered extremely well in this version, so that they are more understandable. Perhaps I am just more accustomed to the language of Austen than I used to be.

One of my favorite scenes from the BBC version that weren't in the A & E version does work itself into this version, which is a nice touch, I thought. I'm thinking of the scene where Lizzy receives the sad news from Jane about Lydia running off. Aunt & Uncle Gardiner and Darcy are all waiting anxiously for her to read and tell all. Darcy paces and sits, paces and sits, wishing he could do something, b/c Lizzy is crying so, and can't even speak. The wit and charm remain totally intact. There was a lot of laughter in the theater, and even some tears and sighs...but maybe that's because it was opening weekend, and in limited release.

Another artistically appealing scene: When Mrs. Bennet is chasing after Lizzy from their home after she has refused Mr. Collins' proposal, a gaggle of geese are in the lane between Lizzy and her mother. As the mother runs down the lane holding up her dress and petticoats, the geese run frantically from her. She looks rather like the geese, bellowing along behind them as they run to get out of her way!! Genius!

Enjoy the multiple scenes of the huge, and some gnarly, tree trunks...

The last three minutes are different from any other version, but I liked the ending. I thought it sweet. Some of you may disagree. The kiss was not a "hollywood-over-the-top-passionate and lengthy one. It was sweetness.

The music is peaceful, the scenery is gorgeous. Donald Southerland does a nice job as the father of the Bennet family, although not all of his classic funny lines from the book make it into the movie, b/c of time. Same with Mrs. Bennet. Southerland's last scene with Lizzy in his library was precious and moving! As was the long, adoring stare she casts toward Darcy as she closes the library door to confess all to her father.

A few other things that I really liked about this one...the director was able to capture the absurd and boisterous silliness of the girls and the mom, without having to drag it all out as is in the A & E version. Time constraints, again. At the same time, I believe that other emotions are easier to pick up on in this version. Charlotte is more indignant when she confronts Lizzy about Lizzy's harsh judgement of her engagement to Collins. Also, the physical changes in Darcy's character once he admits his true feelings to Elizabeth, is very noticeable. His whole body language is more relaxed and both postures that he exhibits in the film come across as believeable. In the BBC version, the Darcy character is almost too stiff for my liking. Of course, Colin Firth was fantastic in the A & E, but I want to see the Darcy character more relaxed after he admits his true feelings. I guess that's why I really liked the Darcy in this new version quite well! There is a scene where Bingley is practicing his proposal to Jane with Darcy. I think this scene makes Darcy softer and more believeable.

A couple of things that held more closely to the book in this version than the A & E version: When Lizzy is reading the letter of explanation from Darcy of her complaints against him, it is more as in the book: as she is reading it. In the A & E, we hear Darcy's voice narrating his explanation, pretty much as he is writing it. I read in an interview with Colin Firth that the director portrayed it thusly, so we can see more of the struggle of his inability to express his emotions outwardly. Second bit of artistic license taken in the A & E version that was not in the book, in order to present the physicality of the struggles with Darcy are the scenes of him bathing, billiards, fencing, and swimming.

Wickham is not developed much at all in this version, nor Lizzie's friendship with him. Some may not like this aspect. Also, I wish Mary's character had been developed better. I always feel sorry for her character in every movie version that I've seen. She is a bit prettier in this screen version, though.

Needless to say, this one is *really* worth seeing on the big screen. REALLY. You need to see those country folks' freckles and messy hair up close. You need to be able to feel dizzy when Lizzy is swinging and twisting round in her swing over the passage of the season. So don't be skeptical or afraid, and don't judge it too harshly, if you've not seen it. At least go to the matinee, if you must save a few bucks. There. I've said my peace...(grin).

Javamom, who is already re-reading the book again

13 November, 2005

Robert Louis Stevenson

Today is Robert Louis Stevenson's birthday. (1850-1894)

Some of his works are: The Child's Garden of Verses, Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped, The Black Arrow, The Master of Ballantrae, The New Arabian Nights, and others.

Some of our children have read all of the above books. I'm about to begin reading Kidnapped aloud with our younger two boys, in 5th and 7th grades. We'll do this for the benefit of our 10.5 yo, who is just now getting better at reading chapter books.

Oldest son and I were watching Masterpiece Theatre's version of Kidnapped (part 1) a couple of weeks ago. We forgot all about part two, and now I'm just hoping our local library orders it so we can check it out. Iasked around, but only one mom in our homeschool group even watched it, that I know of. I guess the others don't watch PBS. Or their kids are younger. My friend from our group who did watch it, did the same thing we did...forgot all about part two...[sigh]. Now we are both looking for a copy of part two!! So, if any of my readers recorded it and wouldn't mind sending it my way for about a week, I will gladly pay shipping :-).

12 November, 2005

What Herb are You?


What herb are you?

This is a short, but fun quiz ~ just passing a little time before settling down to grade Spanish tests and looking over lesson 11 for next Friday.

;-) Javamom

Hat tip: Tootle's Time

Pride & Prejudice

Our teens went with a group of friends to see the new release of Pride & Prejudice yesterday. Good for them, I am NOT bitter, hehe. I will just have to go see it with my own friends on Sunday afternoon. In our area, it is only out in select theaters this weekend. It is not until the 23rd that it will be in all theaters nationwide.

They say it was *fantastic.* My favorite movie critic, Gary Cogill says basically the same thing.

11 November, 2005

And most importantly...Veteran's Day

I remember Veteran's Day...in honor of all the Soldiers who have served and fought for our country. More specifically in my own life: Two of my brothers (Air Force), a Great-Uncle (Patton's Army), at least two cousins (Marines), and one--but soon to be two--of my nephews (both Army). Second nephew is joining their ranks, going on his first tour of Iraq on the Monday after Thanksgiving Day.

I remember...for them and their immediate families. I remember so that I can pass the history on to my children, so that they will honor the soldiers, and honor the causes...and honor the people and countries whom we have fought with, side-by-side, on whose behalf we have fought.


Fyodor Dostoyevsky

I don't know much of anything about Dostoyevsky. He is someone I want to read in my lifetime. I know that hubby worked his way through several of D's major works several summers ago. My niece, who lived in Estonia for 2 1/2 years is reading Dostoevsky now. One of her Russian or Estonian friends told her that (in their opinion) the David McDuff translations are the best Russian-to-English translations of Dostoyevsky that they have found. This gives me hope! Dh had said how difficult a time he had reading Crime and Punishment and Brothers Karamozov a few years back. He thinks it was not a good translation.

You see, I had reading difficulties as a child in school (probably undiagnosed dyslexia), although I could spell impeccably by second grade! Reading was difficult for me, even up through high school. and I still have to push myself to settle down and focus. Letters, numbers, or even words sometimes come out of my mouth in a swapped jumble, even though my brain was thinking the right thing. But I do enjoy reading, when I can fit it in. Maybe having a better translation will encourage me to tackle it sooner, rather than later!

side note: I do believe that learning foreign languages de-mystified reading the longer and more difficult classic works (for me, anyway). I learned Spanish first, German second, then dabbled in Italian and Latin. Possibly it has to do with learning to "de-code" the phonemes and grammar of other languages. It certainly made my English Grammar better, so that I Clepped out of College English 1 and 2. Cool, eh?

These days, my primary reading relates to and centers around American Lit., as my coffeehouse readers would note. If I ever settle in to read Dostoyevsky, you all will be the first to know, and be the readers of my narrations and research, such as they are.

Happy Birthday, Fyodor! (I should ask my Russian linguist brother, or his daughter, Estonian resident for a time, whose goal is to become a Russian linguist someday) how to say Happy Birthday in Russian!!


“Don’t let us forget that the causes of human actions are usually immeasurably more complex and varied than our subsequent explanations of them.” ~Dostoyevsky

Happy Birthday

Kurt Vonnegut has a birthday today. This is from my son's blog, b/c he has read and discussed many Vonnegut books with his Dad and some of his Worldviews Class friends. Vonnegut is definitely not for everyone...

Vonnegut (1922-)

"Today, my friends, is Kurt Vonnegut's birthday. In celebration (more or less) of this fact, is an essay paragraph concerning the intellectuality of his works. Kurt Vonnegut is the 20th century Mark Twain, a witty black (dark) humorist never without science fiction or social satire. From his first short stories to his latest essay collections (A Man Without A Country, 2005), his themes remain those of all Americans, specifically from 1950-1990: racism, humor, depression, insanity, morals, labor, religion, cigarettes, and family. He is a humanist (as well as a postmodernist and an absurdist) who is not in denial, perhaps, of the beauty of the world and the possibility of something more. He captures the struggle between the flesh and the spirit (Christian stuff) in his novel, Bluebeard: "My soul knows my meat is doing bad things, and is embarrassed. But my meat just keeps right on doing bad, dumb things." He touches on man's intellectual dilemma in Cat's Cradle: "Tiger got to hunt, bird got to fly; Man got to sit and wonder 'why, why, why?' Tiger got to sleep, bird got to land; Man got to tell himself he understand." Over all, he seems the kind of man that may be dying off, the one that knows tolerance is not a perfect ideal, but who scathingly criticises while keeping in mind the concept of respect for others. As many of the back covers of his books would say, he's a moralist with a whoopee cushion, a satirist with a heart; but more than that, he's a master of irony who just might be begging the question of what it means to be alive.

Thus, I heavily recommend his works; namely Player Piano, Cat's Cradle, Hocus Pocus, and Bagombo Snuff Box. Happy birthday, Mr. Vonnegut. I certainly wonder what the 21st century "Mark Twain" will look like. These are two of my favorite Vonnegut quotes of all time: "Every passing hour brings the Solar System forty-three thousand miles closer to Globular Cluster M13 in Hercules -- and still there are some misfits who insist that there is no such thing as progress." "Sometimes I think it is a great mistake to have matter that can think and feel. It complains so. By the same token, though, I suppose that boulders and mountains and moons could be accused of being a little too phlegmatic."
~ jonathan.

It is also Fyodor Dostoyevski's B-day, as well...more on him later!