Tuesday, October 30, 2007


I'm currently exploring the topic of spiritual disciplines. I want to learn more about the role of the disciplines in my spiritual life, but I particularly want to learn about meditation, silence, solitude, and fasting. Being a lifelong Protestant, I have been taught about the importance of Bible study, Scripture memory, corporate worship, and prayer. But, I think that many Protestant denominations overlook some of the older disciplines. I don't think I have ever heard a sermon or other Bible study lesson on meditation or fasting. What role do these things play in our lives? Are they just for the monastic types or are they for everyone?

Our twenty first century lives focus so much on productivity and activity, even within the church, that I am afraid that we don't know how to really be with God. I'm not even very good with just being by myself! Of course, my years in training and practice as a physician were also times in which being busy was prized. Rest and meditation were ignored if not outright scorned.

I have been meditating for the last week or so on Isaiah 30:15: This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: "In repentance and rest is your salvation,in quietness and trust is your strength." Getting to repentance, rest, and quietness is a challenge. I am currently reading The Spirit of the Disciplines by Dallas Willard and am really enjoying it and learning quite a bit. I'll write more as I go through it.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

NaNoWriMo and more

November is National Novel Writing Month, so we are changing our language arts curriculum for the month to writing novels. Obviously, you can't write a decent novel in a month - and I'm not sure I can write a decent novel at all - so the goal is quantity, not quality. Check out the NaNoWriMo website. This looks like a lot of fun - and a nice change of pace for a few weeks.

Today was the annual candy craziness known as Halloween Trick or Treat hours. Ga'Hoole Girl went out dressed as a travelling minstrel and played her ocarina. Wild Man was a pirate - big surprise! We live right on the main drag of our little town, so we got lots of kids. We ran out of candy again this year, but at least not until near the end. The kids went out with friends, so Mr. Math Teacher and I got to stay home and give out candy to the rest of the kids.

Next Saturday, our homeschool group is doing a culture fair. Our family signed up for Venezuela, so we will be studying everything Venezuela this week. We have our display board and lots of books.

Other interesting things in our lives: My shingles came back for a third time so I went back to the doctor and we decided that it's probably not shingles. It's gone now and my Lyme test was negative. If it comes back, I may end up going to the dermatologist. I'm pretty stumped. Derm was never my strong point.

Ga'Hoole Girl is almost finished with this quarter's art class and then she's done with art for this year. She really enjoys the class, but having to be at school first thing in the morning is really hard because of her dance classes. One of the reasons that we homeschool is so that our kids can get enough sleep and not have to follow the crazy schedules of the schools.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Others First!

I have borrowed this slogan from our pastor who uses it to help his kids learn to be unselfish. Starting now, we are an "Others First!" family. The kids have been having a terrible time with poor attitudes, complaining, not wanting to work, etc. Basically, they are just being kids - normal kids with sinful natures. But, God is calling us all to love others the way that Jesus loves us. For us, that means "Others First!" I have started by limiting their media time to weekends only, except for DVDs and TV shows that I have them watch for educational value (their attitude seems to be worse with more media). I made signs with the "Others First!" slogan and a scripture verse on each sign and placed them around the house. Mr. Math Teacher and I are going to work on our own attitudes. We are also going to start a zero-tolerance policy for negative attitudes and complaining with the kids. Consequences will generally involve running around the house or up and down the stairs. I'm hoping to also come up with some kind of fun things to encourage us to do things for others. Maybe we'll do things like have one day to specifically encourage one person or do secret things for each other. We'll see how things go. So, as of tomorrow, we are "Others First!"

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Shingles - Take 2

Monday morning, I woke up with terrible pain where I had had shingles several weeks ago. When I went to the shower, I saw that the rash was back - just like it was before. EEK! I have been feeling kind of "ill" because of the shingles (nausea, fatigue, etc.) and have had more headaches because of it. In addition, my new insurance hasn't come through yet, so I'm on acyclovir for the shingles instead of Valtrex. Acyclovir has to be taken every four hours. I'm starting to think I'm chained to a medicine bottle. We have gotten very little schoolwork done this week, but I think we're just going to write it up to a sick teacher. What a week!

He's reading!!

Wild Man is sitting on the sofa reading a book to himself! This is a big deal to any family, but it is especially important for us because Wild Man is dyslexic and homeschooled. While the NEA wants us to think that only trained professionals are able to teach children to read, homeschool families all over the country are doing a great job teaching them at home. Of course, Wild Man has dyslexia, so he does get help from a "trained professional" once a week, but the majority of his reading education has come at home. It's so cool to see that he's reading the book, but it's really fun to see that he's enjoying it. He really loves stories, so reading will open up a whole new world for him. I'm sad that he has had to work so hard to learn to do something so many of us take for granted, but I hope that he will enjoy his reading and make great use of it!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Geaux Tigers!!

Yes, I am an unashamed LSU fan. Mr. Math Teacher and I were at LSU from 1985 to 1990 - we were present (but not together) at the 1988 game in which the cheering was strong enough to register as an earthquake on the geology departments seismograph. Since LSU was ranked #1 according to the AP poll this week, our family naturally had to watch the game. And, this week they played Florida. I grew up in Florida but have always been an LSU fan. When I was growing up, this meant that I was swimming against the tide. Tonight we had a little LSU football party with just our family - it's hard to find LSU fans around here! Ga'Hoole Girl didn't get really interested in the game until the very end. Wild Man, though, watched every second, giving running commentary.

And, what a game it was! Yes, LSU won, but they were never ahead until the last few minutes of the game. And the last minute was quite a nail-biter - hoping that Florida would not be able to pull a touchdown out under the pressure.

Mr. Math Teacher's would be very proud of Wild Man's enthusiasm. The last time that we saw Paw Paw was on a trip to Baton Rouge a few years ago. We went to LSU and saw Death Valley and Mike the Tiger V. It turned out that we were there on Mike's birthday and the local TV station was out doing a story. They interviewed PawPaw for the story because he remembered Mike I. The story aired that night, and we watched it in our hotel room. Paw Paw died the next night. It's really special for the kids that their last activity with their PawPaw was visiting LSU and Mike.

Another very interesting thing about this game is that the Florida quarterback was homeschooled through high school. Florida passed a law in 1996 that allows homeschoolers to participate in public school athletics. Tim Tebow played football in Florida and signed with the University of Florida after he graduated. He is a great quarterback and had us very worried tonight that he would help his Gators pull out a win. Thankfully, the Tigers held them off.

I hope that this kind of thing will give positive publicity to homeschooling. There are places where homeschoolers are not allowed participation in any athletics or other extracurricular activities. I'm not sure about the law in Wisconsin - Wild Man is still several years from high school. We have had Ga'Hoole Girl taking an art class at the local middle school and have been very happy with the outcome. It is unfortunate that some homeschool families are denied this possibility because the school systems are convinced that the system will be abused. In any case, it reflects well on his family and homeschooling that he is doing so well.