29 April, 2007

Birthday was wonderful

The Birthday Honoree (top photo on right)

The stir-fry turned out excellent, the cake was moist, and dd chose her ice-cream: Cookies & Cream and Rocky Road. The company was very diverse and fun! The kids got chiggers on their feet :-) from their little foray of outdoor photos in the wildflowers...but it was worth it, I hear. Instead of candles going on the cake, we each lit a tall, skinny, sparkling candle to blow out in honor of DD's birthday, and to represent our relationships in her life.
Friends stayed late, watched the stars from the rooftop, and one friend stayed over. The presents? Lots of music and tea things, and even some clothes. Some of our best adult friends came for the celebration, as well. This was a happy birthday, indeed!

26 April, 2007

~ 16 ~

We're in a rush of planning, food shopping and cleaning here with another family birthday celebration coming soon. Instead of going out somewhere, our daughter wants us to host her party at our home, complete with poetry or Shakespeare reading (really!), painting on canvas for all, guitars, casual fun photography with friends and home made stir-fry veggies and tofu. Mustn't forget the green tea and coffee. She hasn't chosen her ice cream flavor, yet, but the cake of choice this year is crumb cake.

How cool is that?

Dread Pirate Sparse-beard and I wanted to get dd a ring for the special occasion, so it was picked out today...a lovely silver ring from James Avery dot com.

24 April, 2007

Too Busy to Blog

Is there a "too busy to blog" medallion? I'm sure that we all go through seasons where we have no time to put thoughts down, or are barely able to post a new and interesting photo to keep the blog updated. Though in part, I think it a sign of a healthy person who does not blog constantly...meaning, the person has a life away from the computer screen. Even when home much of the time, daily needs press us out of the computer chair and on to the daily duties of keeping a home and family running smoothly. I believe that busy moms who also happen to blog understand that balance is important!

That said, I need to tell you all how wonderful our weekend was, helping the Hubster and his brother and sister put together and serve at their parents' Golden Wedding Anniversary. The kids worked so hard for their Dad, Aunt, and Uncle! They served
happily and were so engaging and warm with everyone as they sliced cake, served up punch and coffee. 275 people attended this beautiful reception, which included old friends from across the state, many fellow church members from their local congregation, but also important people from their community and their city's symphony guild.

Homeschooling works and produces beautifully social beings who can and do move well through a crowd of all ages. In this setting, many were of the older generation. The photographer who was chronicling the event told them, "You guys seem like you're actually enjoying this...or you're good liars." to which our oldest two (18 and 16-in-a-few-days) said, "Yes, we really enjoy this!"

The kindness, love, and joy of all four of our kids was obvious. The man was genuinely intrigued. He did not expect that. What an affirmation that was that we made the right choice back when our first son was four. Every little bit of affirmation helps, even though it is not what we live for or what keeps us going, no, our motivation goes far deeper than that.

Our Sunday began with going to our in-laws' congregation across town. The non-instrumental singing that we grew up with was quite wonderful and filled with rich harmonies and diminished cords. Though every song slipped in pitch...no one seemed to be bothered by it, except maybe us altos who ended up "scraping" the low notes by the end of each song :-). There was joy in the air. My Aunt and Uncle and one of my cousins attends the same church as my in-laws, so it was fantastic to get to see them and hug their necks.

The reception was in the fellowship hall of the church building. The Harpist and pianist friends of my in laws (who are symphony guild board members) played during the whole reception. This was simply beautiful and set the tone in the room. They played classical to modern, with songs such as "My Funny Valentine" and "Did You Ever Know that You're My Hero."

The original Maid of Honor drove from Arizona to be there, and the original Best Man (Hubby's Uncle Alvin) was there, as well. It was so sweet to see and be a part of. As my father-in-law said, they are all happy to be alive for this! We are glad that they are, as well!!

It was a family rich day, and a beautiful tribute to their 50 years of marriage. Their relationship has grown in such a beautiful way over the years, but moreso since my Father-in-Law has survived two cancer events in the last 14 years. When I get some photos from the day, I will post a few. In the meantime, I will post some from their celebration 10 years ago, when our kiddos were so young and especially cute.


Better News for German Homeschool Family

I was just perusing some of my usual news sites when I noticed an update on Melissa Busekros, the daughter of a homeschooling family in Germany who was taken from her home during a raid and remanded to state custody for psych. evaluation...ALL because her family homeschools!

She just turned 16 and ran away from her state mandated foster home in order to be with her own family on her birthday. Evidently, now that she is 16, she has more rights in the eyes of the state, now. Her psych. evaluation also showed that she is stable and not "school-phobic" which also weakens Germany's case against her family.

The fight may not be over, though, so more prayer and action is needed. If so inclined, click on the link for contact addresses and numbers to help support fellow homeschoolers.

20 April, 2007

Blue-eyed grass

This is one of my top five favorite Spring blossoms

18 April, 2007

Mittens in a bowl

Cats sleep in the strangest places, all tucked in and snuggly-like in boxes or baskets with firm boundaries. It must help them feel secure. This bowl can be found holding miscellaneous craft leftovers (during projects). Kids toss keys in there, wallets, and from time to time even gloves, since it is right by the door of our family room/library. It sits atop my bookbinding sewing frame that Hubster made for me, which looks pretty cute with a bowl-full of mittens on it!


17 April, 2007

Thinking Blogger

Mother Auma sent me the Thinking Blogger Award over a week ago. The only trouble is, I'm still thinking about who to nominate next! I will try to get going on that. There are several sites I check once in a great while that really make me think differently or on a subject that I really don't understand...such as an Economics site I found recently while researching the book, The Incredible Bread Machine.

I've a plethora of irons in the fire: many family birthdays, two anniversaries, three weddings, and family reunions all happening in an eight week span, not to mention a Senior camping trip, graduation parties and graduation! Makes me think I have too much to do :-). They're all good things, so it will be fun!

Ciao for now,


16 April, 2007

Book Finds

The Dread-Pirate Sparsebeard and I had a date day (in honor of his birthday this week), since our four kiddos were otherwise engaged. First, we took our time to have lunch and good discussion at a little French cafe. Then we rented a French film about a little girl named Ponette, who (in the film) is grieving the loss of her mother. Then we stopped by a local used book shop before picking up our youngest two from a youth retreat.

I'm very pleased with our new books:

Las Crónicas de Narnia: El León, La Bruja, y El Ropero
Spanish Proverbs: Idioms & Slang
Himnario de la Iglesia
1001 Pitfalls in Spanish
Early American Writing (Penguin Classics)

11 April, 2007

Nature and Habit - part one

I have tried to carve out time every day or two to read and to order my thinking. My book club is reading Part III in CM's volume 1. I tend to grab onto one phrase and work backward...or from the middle of the chapter to the beginning! Is that Habit or Nature? (grin)
That's not the best way to plan a discussion! Today, I've tried to settle in since I have a larger chunk of time while half my kids are studying and discussing Worldviews of the Western World with other homeschooled students.

Nature is what we come into this life with, and is the sum of our genes from previous generations within our family.

I have a 1927 dictionary that defines Nature this way:

Natural constitution or character, nature, The particular combination of qualities belonging to a person or thing by birth or constitution; native or inherent character or disposition (as "To weep was not in Lady Kew's nature," (from Thackery's Newcombs). "It is my habit, I hope I may say, my nature, to believe the best of people," (G. W. Curtis' "Prue and I). Lastly, it can be seen as a primitive, wild condition; an uncultivated state; the moral state as unaffected by grace.

I love the distinction made here.

CM says on page 103:

"The will of the child is pitifully feeble, weaker in the children of the weak, stronger in the children of the strong, but hardly ever to be counted upon as a power in education.

The nature of the child––his human nature––being the sum of what he is as a human being, and what he is in right of the stock he comes of, and what he is as the result of his own physical and mental constitution––this nature is incalculably strong."

page 104:
Divine Grace works on the Lines of Human Effort.––In looking for a solution of this problem, I do not undervalue the Divine grace––far otherwise; but we do not always make enough of the fact that Divine grace is exerted on the lines of enlightened human effort; that the parent, for instance, who takes the trouble to understand what he is about in educating his child, deserves, and assuredly gets, support from above..."

"...what too many Christian parents expect: they let a child grow free as the wild bramble, putting forth unchecked whatever is in him––thorn, coarse flower, insipid fruit,––trusting, they will tell you, that the grace of God will prune and dig and prop the wayward branches lying prone. And their trust is not always misplaced; but the poor man endures anguish, is torn asunder in the process of recovery which his parents might have spared him had they trained the early shoots which should develop by-and-by into the character of their child.

Nature then, strong as she is, is not invincible; and, at her best, Nature is not to be permitted to ride rampant. (emphasis mine) Bit and bridle, hand and voice, will get the utmost of endeavour out of her if her training be taken in hand in time; but let Nature run wild, like the forest ponies, and not spur nor whip will break her in.

so CM's answer:

pg 105

Habit May Supplant 'Nature'

'Habit is ten natures.' If that be true, strong as nature is, habit is not only as strong, but tenfold as strong. Here, then, have we a stronger than he, able to overcome this strong man armed."

That's hopeful! Most of us know how difficult it is to create one new habit, much less multiple new habits. But to harness the effectiveness of developing just one new positive habit in order to train (retrain!) a negative trait within our 'nature' is worth the mental and physical effort. In fact, she says the payoff is that the habit will be ten times stronger than 'nature.'

Most of all, I appreciate that CM included the power of God's grace in the training of ourselves and our children. Without it, and by human effort only, our days might be so mechanical, perhaps even exhausting. The word picture I imagine in relation to this is that of pushing a broken-down bulldozer uphill in order to make use of said piece of machinery.

How has positive habit formation been helping in your family and your home? Does anyone have a practical example they'd like to post?

...who has had to edit this three times already for spelling errors. Argh!

10 April, 2007

Homeschool Blog Awards voting this week

Do remember to hop on over to vote in this year's HS blog awards. There are so many categories to vote that it really gives everyone a good chance to find new blogs they may not have visited before, and for all the blogs get a chance at some new visitors to their home-on-the-web. I am in the best "Variety" category and the best "Live-what-you-believe" category. Plug over, Javamom out!

09 April, 2007

Pearls Before Breakfast

It was a chilly weekend, most of which was spent cleaning or with family and friends, celebrating a wedding, helping with yard work, deep cleaning home, hostessing 12 boys who rolled our house early Friday a.m. AND left easter eggs for us, returning later Saturday a.m. to participate in airsoft wars with my boys. Then finally cooking for and hostessing Easter company.

Whilst downloading e-mail once or twice during that time, I was sent a link (from two different sources) about a social experiment done by some staffers at The Washington Post magazine, and one of the most popular classical violinists of our time. Being a Josh Bell fan, I was drawn to go check it out for myself, but had to wait until this morning, after all our busy fun of the weekend.

The article is long, but wonderful, as it is a very thorough (yet maybe somewhat flawed) study in one microcosm of time. It is still an excellent experiment, of which the outcome is not too surprising. I did enjoy the follow up comments included within the article, but comments from readers are funny to thoughtful, as well. Maybe some of them miss the point or take it too seriously...which is what makes it funny (to me).

My dh cringes and does not like it when violin players swoop and sway "too much" in his opinion :-). But we enjoy Bell's music...okay *I* enjoy Bell's artistry in music. Dh prefers the cello or double bass...and I do like seeing/hearing him at a live performance.

(Side note: The movie he doubled in...The Red Violin...interesting yet a little creepy!)

Back to some quotes from the article:


"Bell has played, literally, before crowned heads of Europe. Why the anxiety at the Washington Metro?"

"When you play for ticket-holders," Bell explains, "you are already validated. I have no sense that I need to be accepted. I'm already accepted. Here, there was this thought: What if they don't like me? What if they resent my presence . . ."

Context matters. I also think timing matters.

The article continues:

"Kant said the same thing. He took beauty seriously: In his Critique of Aesthetic Judgment, Kant argued that one's ability to appreciate beauty is related to one's ability to make moral judgments. But there was a caveat. Paul Guyer of the University of Pennsylvania, one of America's most prominent Kantian scholars, says the 18th-century German philosopher felt that to properly appreciate beauty, the viewing conditions must be optimal."

I agree!

Next, the article's writer points out that ALL children strained and tried to stop, look, and listen, but were forced onward by their parents.

The writer quotes my favorite modern poet (no secret to my readers with all the Billy Collins references plastered on and throughout the booksncoffeehaus blog :-)

"Billy Collins once laughingly observed that all babies are born with a knowledge of poetry, because the lub-dub of the mother's heart is in iambic meter. Then, Collins said, life slowly starts to choke the poetry out of us. It may be true with music, too."

The article wraps up thusly:

"But he (Bell) is back in the States this week. He has to be. On Tuesday, he will be accepting the Avery Fisher prize, recognizing the Flop of L'Enfant Plaza as the best classical musician in America."

I like a person who can laugh at themselves and roll with life.

It's pretty inspiring, actually :-).


06 April, 2007

Good Friday thoughts

Hubster and I grew up in homes that didn't participate in Good Friday. Easter was special, but we celebrated Christ's death, burial, and resurrection every Sunday.

In parenthood, The Hubster, aka Dread Pirate Sparsebeard, and I made a point to change the way we celebrate religious holidays and give them more spiritual significance in our lives. As a first, some in our family even participated this year in giving up something from Lent to Resurrection Sunday, to find our supply and fill that void with The Lord. Totally unheard of in the church-of-my-youth. There are many things I appreciate about my heritage, and I'll share those another time.

We made one other change to our usual routine this year. Instead of spending it as we have so many times in the past (preparing to sing for an Easter musical, Good Friday service or be a part of Easter service worship team or chorus), we've taken time off from those ministries and are helping direct family members, instead. Hubster took our youngest two boys to help do some serious yard work at the Grandparents' home. It is getting to be too much for them as Poppy fights off another bout with cancer. Dd and I stayed home to do some deep cleaning and meal planning for company coming several times this weekend.

My boys are having company over tonight and tomorrow, then Hubster's brother and family will be joining us in Worship on Sunday, then coming home for Easter Lunch. In one way, I consider NOT participating in any music events this year a form of rest.

Thinking of you all and praying you have a bless-ed Holiday.


04 April, 2007

C. S. Lewis fans

From Christianity Today online and into my mailbox. Read more about it here! The third volume of The Letters of C. S. Lewis is out.

I think the whole three-volume set would be a fantastic present for our son who is about to graduate from our hs highschool.

The CT article and review is titled: "They Didn't Have Email"

The massive concluding volume of C. S. Lewis' Collected Letters.
by Michael Ward

The Comedy of Errors

We've not done as well as I'd hoped juggling life, fitting in co-op schoolwork and AO/HEO schoolwork this year. That's hard with four kiddos, have you tried it? I think that's why the Lord blessed us with just the four that we have. Granted, they are older students and can do much of the work on their own. And our youngest ham, is getting better at staying focused, since he has the benefit of getting to exercise his artistic side productively through our homeschool co-op.

Now that co-op is over and I personally have fewer teacher duties, our family can move on to the next Shakespeare play, which is The Comedy of Errors.

Just an update from Texas, where we are experiencing Spring Fever, but are moving forward progressively! How are you all doing?


02 April, 2007

Blog labels

I updated nearly every post with a blog label today. What I noticed(and I grant that I am late to the game :-) is that it is not an exact science. There is a lot of overlap, and some posts hang out there under a label that could apply to a number other posts. For example, on the blog topic of opinion, you'll notice there aren't that many listed under this label. It's not because I'm not opinionated. In fact, I really am. I just found better labels to apply to a lot of posts, or my opinions are woven into other posts. I try not to be too blunt in my presentation of my opinions, either. Heaven knows that the older I get and the more I learn, the more I see what I lack in so many areas. So I have little inclination to put myself out there as an expert.

My main purpose for starting this blog was to keep in touch with family and friends flung to the outer-regions of the earth :-).
It's quicker than snail mail and easier to keep up with said family and friends in one venue, complete with pictures. But you all already know that!

Anyhow, it should make it more interesting...or at least easier to search through post topics.

I lost my AO/HEO homeschoolers blogring code when I upgraded my blogger and changed my template recently, and it was supposed to be sent to me. I need to go try to get it, again. If any of you know the code, could you send it my way? Thanks in advance!

Ciao for now, faithful visitors one and all!


Homeschool Blog Awards

Have you sent in nominations, yet? I'm about to go do this right now. I know several who deserve to be in the running. You only have until April 6th to get them in!



Spanish Direct and Indirect Objects

We've been reviewing direct and indirect objects and D.O. and I.O. pronouns in Spanish. I thought I'd use this Resurrection Week example, just for fun.

"Judas turned Jesus over to them" -- Judas is the subject, the one who does the action. Who's turned over to the Jewish leaders? Jesus. Jesus is the direct object. To them is the indirect object, they're the people Jesus is being turned over to.

Now, in Spanish, you always use "le" or "les" for the indirect object; in this case, them, so we use "les". If there wasn't a direct object, one could think that "les" is it, because it is officially accepted to use "le" and "les" as a pronoun for a male-person direct object. However. "Jesús" is the direct object -- it would be:

"Judas les entregó Jesús."

But we have to take into account that Jesús is a concrete person, and concrete-person direct objects need the preposition "a" to work.

"Judas les entregó a Jesús."