31 March, 2007

Artistic Pursuits

I've enjoyed time together with some of our friends and my daughter, painting tiles for a friend who is stepping down from leadership of our homeschool co-op. The Lord put the co-op idea on her heart twelve years ago, and she's retiring this post in part because her youngest graduates this May. She is, however, continuing to lead the Christian Homeschool Prom.

All of the tiles are to go in her laundry/craft room in their new house. We had such a good time talking, laughing and painting together. It's like the old-fashioned "quilting bee" concept.

The photo above shows two tiles I painted (one on behalf of my son, who studied Biblical Precepts with this leader/teacher). The one on the right was painted by my dd.

Everyone did an excellent job!

29 March, 2007

Our Oldest Two

That's an Italian flag in the background.
It means peace. Yes, it's a bit of Italian
propoganda, but we liked the flag when we were there visiting friends and taking several historic and artistic field trips. Dd wanted it for a souvenir. I brought home books and art prints, and she wanted a flag.

We like it for the other forms of peace that it can stand for, not b/c it is anti-war. Peace in Christ, peace in the home, etc.

Ds was looking into joining the marines after graduation in may, b/c he wasn't sure how to pay for college. He told the recruiter that he is a bit of a pacifist. No, he's not an obnoxious protester and I think he was partially joking. The recruiter replied by saying, "We can work with that." Yeah, I just bet. More like, "We can grind and humiliate that right out of you."

I think (I hope and pray) that ds now sees his other options that are coming into focus. They have been developing more clearly in the last couple of weeks. He has been recruited and accepted to Scotland to serve with a ministry team there for part of the summer at a Bible Camp, then begin some basic courses at a local community college this fall. This will have bought him a little more time to look more closely into colleges (and scholarships) for political theory, economics, philosophy, and photojournalism classes, to which he can apply as a transfer student.

Dd is going to miss having her brother around when he finds his own place with other roommates.

26 March, 2007


On to another restoration project. This is a book on Revelation read over and over by the great grandfather of a friend from church. Notice the makeshift "stab" binding the grandfather added in his own resourceful attempt to keep the text together! Stab binding is an actual technique in Japanese binding, but it's not done through traditional book boards. I have never seen such drastic measures taken in this way on a vintage book! My friend wants to keep the strings (part of the charm of the memory of his great grandfather) attached...or should I say "re"attached after restoration.

There will be much involved in this restoration, cover completely removed, repaired, and reattached to the boards, text will need a lot of tissue repair in the gutters and then re-sewn and reinserted into the boards. I should be done in no time at all.... :-p

25 March, 2007

Life is a Poem

The ballad, I; I shun the world,
Its bustle and its noise,
Its busy hasty rushing crowds
And bright consumer toys.

Indeed, I sometimes like the old
Because it's not the new;
And if you think that's strange or wrong,
I might not much like you.
What Poetry Form Are You?

If I were not a Ballad, I'd be Heroic Couplets. THAT is a hoot! Ballad suits me very well.

If one thinks that "liking the old because it's not new" is strange or wrong though, I would not show my displeasure, but would try to extend grace instead. I will simply hope that they learn how to come down from the sometimes "adrenaline addictive rush" of living at such breakneck pace most days, and hope that they learn to slow down and appreciate the simpler things in life from time to time.

I don't always shun the busy-ness. There is plenty of volunteering to be done and groceries to be purchased and therefore the need to be driving at the busiest times of day in order to accomplish these things. BUT I usually "steer around" (pun intended) the busiest times, if at all possible.

Hat tip: both Mama Squirrel and Tim's Mom


24 March, 2007

Weed eater

With the onset of Spring in full swing, the yard needs mowing and weed eating for the second time already. We have a little extra help!

22 March, 2007

Ah, the fresh air...

and sunshine on these first days of spring!

Yeah, we got it made and we know it. Javamom is trying to catch and save an injured neighborhood cat, who just happens to look a whole lot like me (Tigger) and bring him back to health. Darn cat keeps limping away before she can catch him. She's gone and left food out for him and everything!

posted by the protesting Javacats

19 March, 2007

Learning to Cry for the Culture

I just read a good article at Christianity Today Online about Francis Schaeffer, one of the most important Christian Philosophers and thinkers of the 20th century. It is written by musician and author John Fisher. In the article, Fisher tells us what he learned from Francis Schaeffer as he reflects on a time that he heard him speak at Wheaten University more than a couple of decades ago. I'll only share several quotes that I found resoundingly important for us to consider, then link you to the original article.

Fisher writes: "Instead of shaking our heads at a depressing, dark, abstract work of art, the true Christian reaction should be to weep for the lost person who created it. Schaeffer was a rare Christian leader who advocated understanding and empathizing with non-Christians instead of taking issue with them."

Then this, with which I so heartily agree.

"Jesus asked us to love our enemies. Part of loving is learning to understand. Too few Christians today seek to understand why their enemies think in ways that we find abhorrent. Too many of us are too busy bashing feminists, secular humanists, gay activists, and political liberals to consider why they believe what they do. It's difficult to sympathize with people we see as threats to our children and our neighborhoods. It's hard to weep over those whom we have declared enemies.

Perhaps a good beginning would be to more fully grasp the depravity of our own souls and the depth to which God's grace had to go to reach us. I doubt we can cry over the world if we've never cried over ourselves."

Yes, these short thoughts are exactly the reason to have your students and older children read the writings of Francis Schaeffer, pray and ponder over them, then do something positive in the culture; engage and be in the world and not of it, to try to be of help and make a difference.



17 March, 2007

Mellow Saturday of Reading and Music

Currently listening to Edgar Meyer
on double bass with Béla Fleck, while making up my own chocolate syrup from cocoa powder and sugar. This concoction is for a peppermint mocha that I'm making this late Saturday morning to sip whilst I read some Charlotte Mason for book club.

It is so quiet in the house, as our four jr. high and high schoolers had a lock-in with their church youth group friends or stayed at friends' homes. I'm very glad, as we had co-op, so I was "wiped out" from the time and energy that it takes for the planning and executing of a successful day. The middle two are back now, but fast asleep, of course! I hear they had a wonderful time of snacks, games, and even a 2 a.m. worship time that DD got to serve in by her preparation of the set and playing the bass guitar. Oldest son is with his best buddies-four, as one of their own has returned from college for spring break, so they have gotten to catch up and have good discussions, etc.

Most of Edgar Meyer's music (that I've heard thanks to Dread Pirate Sparse-beard) is a wonderful and interesting amalgam of sounds. In his own words~

“Most of the music I’ve become interested in is hybrid in its origins…Classical music, of course, is unbelievably hybrid. Jazz is an obvious amalgam. Bluegrass comes from eighteenth-century Scottish and Irish folk music that made contact with the blues. By exploring music, you’re exploring everything.” – Edgar Meyer

Click here to watch a clip of Edgar Meyer and Béla Fleck playing a bit of Bach on double bass and banjo, then giving an interview together on A & E's "Breakfast With The Arts."

The last time we went to see the symphony, we were given free tickets which placed us right behind the orchestra on the very front row. I always wondered what that would be like, with the whole audience looking right at this section, where the chorus sits when it joins the symphony.

We quickly forgot about the audience and got lost in the music. I had an absolutely wonderful time being so close that we could follow the conductor and watch his expressions, but also being so close that I could read the music of several instrument sections. That was an unexpected surprise! Being in these seats also meant that we were directly behind the percussion section. I have come to enjoy our orchestra's percussionists immensely, so this was another treat. It was as close to being back in the band (4th grade through high school, where I played flute and bassoon) or symphony (college-bassoon only) as I've been in decades.

James Galway, my childhood hero, played several times both before and after the intermission. That was the main reason we sought tickets this particular night. This was one of our best symphony visits, ever!

Take time to enjoy the music!

13 March, 2007

After the rain

The after-the-storm-blown blossoms are like confetti on the driveway, as if some celebration had just gone on in the sky.

Project mostly finished

I think I will color in the little areas of white on the back cover, and stabilize the corners. See how well the inside paste downs went back into place! This can be tricky, but I'm so pleased with the results here.
Only a few more tweaks to go

12 March, 2007

God Grew Tired of Us

This documentary~ movie is about the journey of The Lost Boys of Sudan. It follows one group in particular, chosen to come to the United States and make a new life. I came away moved by their journey and struggles. It is titled thus as pulled from part of something one of the main characters, John Bul Dau, says. He shares how he began to think maybe it was like the last day of the world when God becomes disappointed with mankind; that he thought maybe that God had grown tired of them...of his people, and wanted to destroy them.

You will laugh and maybe even cry as you realize the complexities involved with them being given a "new" lease on life, while many remained behind at a refugee camp. The movie shows the difficulties of transition, depression, feelings of heavy responsibility that some of these men feel to help their own people. It also gives a glimpse of how some of the Lost Boys have forgotten their culture and absorbed themselves in the new luxuries they've found for themselves in USA. John Bul Dau talks about how he is worried for these younger ones.

This one is worth your time and money, and will make you think and reflect on what is important.

11 March, 2007

~ TP'd again ~

Our boys had some fun tp-ing our friends' home...so said friends got even :-). Though said friends have also gotten us two or three times now, and one of our boys participated in the aforementioned activity only once.

Yes, our boys had to clean it all up, with a little help from Dread Pirate Sparsebeard. He can wield the extend-a-poll a lot better than Jr. High arms can. He's strong from all that Swabbing of the decks, raising of the sails, and all that "piratey" stuff, LOL.

10 March, 2007

Another weekend project

I hope these weekend projects become a regular thing! Here is the latest. This is for the one of the art teachers at Hubby's school. This was her favorite childhood book. The text block of the book is completely separated from the cover, and the spine is half worn away.

07 March, 2007

One reason to love Texas

Pear Blossoms - do you see the bee in the top photo?

It is in the mid 70's today, and no wind. It's just blue skies (smilin' at me) blooms, and the soft, buzzing hum of honey bees :-). The bees kept avoiding my camera lens, but there are hundreds of them hovering around all the blossoms. I caught one in the top photo.

05 March, 2007

Amazing Grace, the movie

Dh and I loved this film. My recommendation for taking your children? DO take your older children to see this, as younger students will likely become bored (b/c of lack of a frame of reference and understanding). There are many scenes with Parliament in heated debate over the issues surrounding the slave trade at the end of the 1700's / beginning 1800's. There is also talk of Revolution and use of Laudanum (an opiate which in that day was prescribed medicinally by doctors, but its effects are terribly obvious). There are many scenes which would be good for speech and debate students. They will simply need to pay close attention for best appreciation, as many facts and words are tossed back and forth. Some subtle moves are made and I'm thinking even my 13 yo son would miss a lot of the importance of these things, if he did not have some reference points to be able to connect to these scenes.

This movie is *fantastic*. Wilberforce comes to believe that “God Almighty has set before me two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade and the reformation of society.” The film presents Wilberforce's struggle and growth in faith. We meet John Newton, who wrote the hymn Amazing Grace, and we learn his story and struggles as well. These scenes are very powerful. He urges Wilberforce to pursue with diligence the ending of the slave trade, even though it is a daunting task, since many of the Parliament members have money and interests in the trade and in the refining of sugar cane.

There are almost no graphic scenes that would upset young ones, save one that is not real clear as to what is going on. There is narration by one character or another of what is being shown, which is a scene of children and maybe an adult female in a dark room where sugar-cane is being boiled down in huge cauldrons to make refined sugar. All we see is darkness, fire, cauldrons, and silhouettes. The narrator is talking about how some children are engulfed in the flames on accident or roll into the fires from falling asleep of exhaustion. I think it is important information to know, but does one want to see that and hear it on a movie screen? If so, then go rent and watch Amistad instead. In this film, you never see a person burning or being beaten, you never hear the sounds of people screaming or see people being hurt or harmed. We know these things happened, and it is told to us in different scenes by one of the twelve abolitionists as they work to gather evidence and signatures to bring before Parliament.

The most graphic scene is right in the beginning when we see (first from a distance, and in the rain) that a man is whipping a horse multiple times. It all turns out alright, as Wilberforce stops it in time.

We get a strong sense of "The Abolition Committee" which really existed. It was formed to help gather evidence to try to persuade Parliament in campaign after campaign to pass a law making the slave trade illegal. One of the twelve was a former slave, Olaudah Equiano, who wrote and published his own accounts of slave narratives (which my husband has students read in his High School American Lit. class).

Finally, the music is stunning. The final scene partway through credits rolling is that of bag pipers playing Amazing Grace as they slowly march forward to join a band dressed in costume playing on period instruments also playing Amazing Grace. VERY stirring.

This film portrays the Christianity of an impressive politician in such a positive light. Tell your family and friends about it.

It is a *must-see* in my humble opinion!!

Restoring Pilgrim's Progress

See how the spine cloth is cleanly split from top to bottom.
The supporting paper on the inside is acidic and crumbly, so that will need to be removed, and new spine stiffener added, before being able to repair the split spine cloth.

For the spine repair, I'll need to do some color matching on new fabric and paste that in.

04 March, 2007

Project weekend

All of the projects I worked on this weekend have one thing in common: they were "bound" by perfect binding; a cheap way to "bind" books. It's just glue, and it does not last well. Think of the common paperback book. Now when a hardback book or heavier textblock has been bound that way, you can imagine why this process is not optimal for long-term or heavy use.

Above is a friend's poorly "bound"(glued) NIV commentary that had split completely open. It was a little tricky going, but I finished it fairly quickly. The trickiest deal was figuring out how to properly get the adhesive to dry by putting some sort of weight on the tissue I applied to hold it together.

Esta es mi Biblia. It is one of my college Bibles from 1984. The textblock was completely out of it's cover, and was coming apart in chunks. Since it was simply glued onto the cover, these chunks were basically the same thing as pads of paper or stationary. The "perfect binding" glue is pretty much the same stuff that is used on paper pads. Cheap. This Bible also went down in a cargo airplane crash with our first library collection back in 1987. True story, LOL. Maybe that didn't help.

03 March, 2007

Current Projects

I'm working on this project for a young student at our homeschool co-op. This is her favorite Bible and she is very protective of it! It shouldn't take me very long to get it back together again, stronger than it was before. It was just glued in, no hinging or other support to keep it in its cover for very long. That's a problem with modern, "quick" binding.

My advice, when shopping for special books that you intend to be a gift that that will be treasured, look for sewn bindings (Smythe binding) or library editions. I know they are more expensive, but for books that will last, this is what you should look for.

On the other hand, there are definitely times when a paperback edition is just right. :-)


Note the finished product. It took the longest of my weekend jobs, as it needed to dry in the bookpress overnight.

01 March, 2007

High School Senior Options

Has anyone else had the problem of how to answer people (who mean well) when they ask, "What college is your son going to?" or "What are your son's plans?" It is a similar reaction that folks feel obligated (or maybe it's just genuine curiosity) when we were just beginning our homeschool journey, when loved ones AND strangers asked all those (sometimes thoughtful, but other times, annoying) questions about "How do you make sure you are teaching what they need to learn?", or (love this one) "are you qualified? Will it count?" and of course "Can homeschoolers get into college?"

Please share with me your experiences. All along this journey of over 13+ years I have found that there are many, many options for learning, training and growing to be a better follower and to be a good leader in adulthood. Most folks are just so ---- bent on how you just absolutely MUST follow the traditional path and make sure your student is all ready to jump right in to college immediately.

Once again, as with those "just starting out" years, I wish people would realize that there exists a multitude of ways to accomplish education and succeed, both primary and higher education and training. Taking a semester or summer off to get some more humanitarian work under the belt is exactly what we're hoping for for our son, then he can begin courses at the community college with little cost, and begin to rack up college hours toward becoming a transfer student. He may actually take a community college course before that hoped-for humanitarian/mission trip. We will save up to $50,000 by not jumping (or forcing) into traditional college immediately after dear son comes off of that graduation stage with his certificate in that big hand of his.

It's not like we don't have a plan. I have a fluid and working sketch that is open to adjustments here and there. There are so many options that we are trying to funnel down into a more specific path, while AT THE SAME TIME allowing for some God-led guidance and opportunities to come along (which they are, by the way).

We (society) have such a rigid box of what counts for education. It gets very frustrating sometimes when folks cannot get out of that box and see the interesting and creative opportunities that abound! In fact, I so strongly believe that opportunities to become better educated for both leadership and contentment in adulthood exist outside of a traditional setting far more often than in the tradional setting. Just go back to the bio's of the most famous statesmen, scientists, and renaissance men. They were not educated traditionally. Some in modern society still aren't.

And there is not a thing wrong with allowing for more time for the student to feel more comfortable about their academic choices while getting some of the basic core subjects out of the way. How many college students or adults do YOU know who changed their major multiple times, adding on to the amount of money and time spent toward attaining a goal of a degree.

AND how many adults do you know now who are not working in the field in which they majored? I am not at all saying that a degree is not important. I AM saying, however, that giving students some time to mature into a degree or career plan while getting basics out of the way, therefore hopefully leading to fewer academic changes being made as possible (and thereby saving money along the way) is NOT a bad thing. It is even a PLAN, if I dare say such a thing.

You can probably tell...we have gotten some interesting input (or criticism) for not having all ds' paperwork in to the college/university of his choice, yet. That's because he doesn't have one yet. Community college courses and online courses are a very good option, as well as the dual-credit course option that high schooolers have. We have two more teens and one pre-teen, who can take advantage of this option sooner or later, **should it be a good fit for them.** Isn't the fit of the student to a particular college/university one of the most important things? That's what I've read, anyway.

Another point is that some students do not and cannot possibly be sure of what career they want to "lock themselves into" early in their high school career. My question is should they even have to?? It didn't work for me (I burned out badly 3 1/2 years in) and many others that I know. But that leads to a whole different subject. In spite of bombing Statistics in my Senior year, I do get to make use of my Spanish language minor :-). In spite of Dh's bachelor's degree, which was not in education, he did get to go on and become a teacher. He did finally earn a Master's degree in English.

I know we have to jump through certain hoops. I just believe that there aren't as many "must-do's" as the general public tries to make us think there are. But then, we've lived counter-culturally and unconventionally much of our lives, and have a lot of experiences (mine and others') on which to hang my beliefs.

Maybe we are just living by-the-seat-of-our-pants. Better yet, though, maybe we are just trying to live by Faith and not trust in those 'horses and chariots.'

I await to hear the experiences and thoughts of my readers. I need the encouraging words!

Javamom, handing the soapbox to someone else, now.