Rivendell, WIS

O to grace how great a debtor Daily I'm constrained to be! Let Thy goodness, like a fetter, Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

In support of eschewing school textbooks

Edutopia has published an article about how textbooks are made, The Muddle Machine: Confessions of a Textbook Editor No wonder they are dry as dust.

Related articles at Edutopia:
How to Toss the Text
No Books, No Problem
A list of web sites useful for planning science lessons without textbooks

Thursday, March 23, 2006

In memory of an innocent 4 yo boy

Sean Paddock died February 26 of suffocation with blankets. I cannot find many details about his death online; it appears that wrapping him up tightly in blankets was a punishment repeatedly used by his mother, Lynn.

This article gives the most complete information I can find.

The Lord Jesus Christ's teachings about children come to my mind:

* Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these, Matthew 19:14.
* Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, Matthew 18:3, 4.
* And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me; but whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a heavy millstone hung around his neck, and to be drowned in the depth of the sea, Matthew 18:5, 6.
* See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven, Matthew 18:10.

Hinder them not; offend them not; despise them not. Be humble as they are humble. Words to live by.

Anne at Holy Experience writes words from her heart of love in a letter to the relatives of Sean.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Adler's How to Read a Book: Suggestions for Practicing His Methods?

A comment and question from Henry Cate of Why Homeschool on my "Reading Readiness" post:

Our first two daughters were late readers. The first didn't really start reading until she was eight. She went from second grade level to twelve in one year. Our second didn't catch on until about nine, and she is busy doing the same thing.

For some reason our third daughter seems to take after my wife, and has been doing fairly well at five.

Do you have any suggestions for short, good, non-fiction books for an eleven year old? I've had my daughter read the first part of Adler's book, and now I want her to put into practice what she has read. I'm looking for something around 100 pages which teaches interesting and useful things.

I first thought of Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury, recently read by 3 of our daughters. I also thought that a history chronicle (Bede? Asser's Life of Alfred? The Magna Charta?) or a short biography might be appropriate. Other nonfiction books our children enjoy are nature books, like Life of a Spider by Fabre or Wild Animals I Have Known by Seton.

I would like to take time to browse my bookshelves and booklists for more specific ideas, but I thought I would ask for help from other booklovers who may be reading this, especially those who have put Adler's methods into practice with your own students. What suggestions would you give Henry? Please leave ideas in the comments to this post. atdhvaannkcse!

Monday, March 20, 2006

The one bad thing about books?

Books give me dark circles under my eyes.

Recently tasted books:

Pride and Prejudice--I finished this Saturday. For those who may have seen one of the films without ever reading the book itself, you are missing out. You'll never fully understand how Darcy and Elizabeth fall in love without the book.

A quote: "But make a virtue of it by all means. My good qualities are under your protection, and you are to exaggerate them as much as possible..." Elizabeth to Darcy.

Precious Bane, by Mary Webb--Three daughters and I are reading this concurrently. My memories of this book persuade me that it is my favorite love story. Will my opinion stand up to a rereading?

A quote from Chapter 1, as Pru begins her book and gives glimpses of themes that will be woven within the pages: "Well, it is all gone over now, the trouble and the struggling. It be quiet weather now, like a still evening with the snow all down, and a green sky, and lambs calling. I sit here by the fire with my Bible to hand, a very old woman and a tired woman, with a task to do before she says good night to this world. When I look out of my window and see the plain and the big sky with clouds standing up on the mountains, I call to mind the thick, blotting woods of Sarn, and the crying of the mere when the ice was on it, and the way the water would come into the cupboard under the stairs when it rose at the time of the snow melting. There was but little sky to see there, saving that which was reflected in the mere; but the sky that is in the mere is not the proper heavens. You see it in a glass darkly, and the long shadows of rushes go thin and sharp across the sliding stars, and even the sun and moon might be put out down there, for, times, the moon would get lost in lily leaves, and, times, a heron might stand before the sun."

Books I'm nibbling on without necessarily planning to finish:

How the Heather Looks, by Joan Bodger--debating whether to assign this to our 14 yodd;
Arguing about Slavery: John Quincy Adams and the Great Battle in the United States Congress, by William Lee Miller--debating whether to suggest this for our 17 yo dd;
Johannes Kepler and the New Astronomy, by James R. Voelkel--trying to choose between this and a Sower Series bio of Kepler for our 12 yo dd... Looks like the Sower Series bio will work better for her. The Voelkel book is more advanced.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Things learned about prayer

For most of my life, I've been in a rut regarding prayer. I had high ideals, similar to the ideals a friend expressed at a Bible study last month: "I grew up with great prayer warriors as my models, so I thought if I wasn't spending an hour or more praying early every morning, I was failing."

These high ideals produced guilt, so every time I prayed, I had to do extensive confession of my failures before I could pray about anything else. Somewhere in the process of learning to be a mother of several children, I decided to give up the guilt. I realized that God wasn't withholding His blessings and grace from my life because I didn't spend hours in Bible study and prayer. Whose standards was I trying to live up to? He knew what life with small children was like. I concentrated, instead, on walking with Him moment by moment, living out what I already knew from His Word, Practicing the Presence of God.

Still, when I actually felt motivated to kneel to pray, my mind wandered. Or, I fell asleep. So, the next thing I learned was a tip from C. S. Lewis: Use the Lord's prayer as a guide.* It is my outline, if you will, while I pray. An added benefit of using His ideas instead of mine is that my focus is on my relationship with Him much more than when I come up with my own "shopping list" for praying.

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed be Thy name.
Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread;
Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.

A more recent thing I've learned: Set a modest goal. For me, this was 15 minutes a day. I reasoned that a few minutes a day, almost every day, was better than sporadic half-hours every week or two. This 15-minute goal has been an important step for me. If I neglect it in the morning, I can easily fit it in later in the day.

Prayer has become a part of my life. It is much more natural now, like eating, drinking, breathing, rather than something unnatural for me, like training for a triathlon (lol!).

The next step has grown out of my desire to pray with my children as part of the discipleship process. We pray before meals together; and when we hear of a special need of a friend or relative, we try to gather in the living room for a time of prayer. The kiddos aren't used to it, however, and they tend to distract each other or act reluctant. I hope that they pray to the Lord alone, as they read their Bibles alone, but I feel some responsibility to help them more in this area.

So, an idea occurred to me. Now, each day (when possible), I pray alone briefly with a different child. After half of month of this, I'm thankful that it's working well. What better way to spend part of our day than coming together to our Father for acknowledgment of His many blessings and of our constant need for His help. This fits well into my philosophy of home education and of keeping open relationships with each person in the family.

*I think the book by Lewis that influenced me on this topic was Letters to Malcolm. John MacArthur also wrote a book on the Lord's prayer, Alone with God: The Power and Passion of Prayer, that I read years ago and still remember. A more recent (and shorter) book I read is by Hank Hanegraaff, The Prayer of Jesus.

Friday, March 17, 2006

St. Patrick's Day

Today, I finally noticed that my tulips have poked their leaves above the surface--the flower bed has been covered in snow lately, so I hadn't been looking for this first sign of spring.

I appreciate St. Patrick the man, who is by profession one of my brothers in Christ Jesus. One children's book we have read about him is by
Tomie DePaola, titled Patrick: Patron Saint of Ireland. My better half and I don't agree with the practice of designating some people "saints," but we do appreciate those whose lives clearly demonstrate biblical truth.

We watched a group of Irish step dancers perform on Wednesday. We knew three of the students from either our church, home school contacts, or a play our children were in. I haven't heard anyone here begging to take step dance lessons... yet.

With a given name like Colleen, how can I resist trying some Irish recipes on St. Patrick's Day? Our menu:

Pearl onions with Irish Butter Sauce (ketchup and butter, believe it or not, but good)
Colcannon (definitely worth making, if you've never tried this cabbage and potato dish)
Irish Stew (with beef for economy's sake)
Irish Soda Bread
Mexican Limeade (because it's green, silly!)

May the road rise to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face.
And rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

In honor of a dedicated wife and mother: Missey

The home school community has received bittersweet* news. Yesterday, a mom of our number went into eternity after an emergency c-section. Missey taught her children using Ambleside Online, as I do. She also shared advice and practical help freely with other home-educating moms online. Please pray for her husband, Tom, and their 5 children, including the baby girl born March 1 and named after her mommy, Melissa Kate.

Missey's obituary, photo, and details about the complications after her surgery.

*But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him, 1 Thessalonians 4: 13, 14.