Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our Week In Review – The “We Already Had Our Spring Break” Edition


The local school districts had Spring Break this week, although our district only takes Friday and Monday for the break.  Rosie Girl and Wild Man thought that they should have had the week off, even though I reminded them that our trip to Florida last month was their big break for the spring semester.  I did offer to give them the week off and end a week later, but they were definitely opposed to anything that might require schoolwork after the public schools are out for the year.  So, we did do schoolwork the last couple of weeks.  And with less wailing and gnashing of teeth than I might have expected!

Wild Man

History/Social Sciences - He was supposed to be reading from The Arabs In The Golden Age starting a few weeks ago, but we couldn’t find the book, despite my having rearranged and cleaned out bookshelves.  We found it at the end of last week – right when it belonged and where I had looked at least three times!  Bah!  In any case, he’s now reading about the Arabs during the Middle Ages.  We’ve also watched some DVDs about Islam, Mecca, etc.  And, I threw in a show about the Russian Revolution because I just found it on Netflix this week.  We had been listening to Around The World In Eighty Days, so we took out the globe one day and reviewed Phileas Fogg’s journey as well as the countries of the Middle East and North Africa.  (As an aside, there was a reference in Around The World In Eighty Days to Chicago rebuilding.  I stopped the book and asked Wild Man what they were talking about, why was Chicago rebuilding?  And I was thrilled that he looked at me and said (without a pause, and with a little incredulity that I would even have to ask him), “The Great Fire of Chicago!”  Yes, he did learn something from that trip to the top of the Hancock Building a few years ago – besides that it’s really, really, really high up!)

Math – Wild Man is doing a great job these days of learning math from ALEKS.  He occasionally needs PWM to explain something, but, overall, he’s able to learn from the explanations given.  He’s still reviewing math facts because they just don’t stick well in his head, but he’s making progress.

Reading – He has been reading Physick, a book from a series that he had been reading for fun.  I thought Around The World In Eighty Days would be hard for him to read by himself (and I think it was scheduled as a read-aloud when Rosie Girl did this Core) so we got it on audio.  The other two books that go with his History/Social Sciences are The Shadow Spinner and Seven Sisters And Seven Brothers.  I want to do them as read-alouds because I think Wild Man will get more out of them and there are a few sections with things I’d like to make sure we discuss.  Right now, we’re reading Surely, You’re Joking, Mr. Feynmann!  by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Richard Feynmann.  It’s an entertaining book and has provoked some great discussions.

Writing/Spelling/Grammar – Wild Man has really been improving in spelling and writing.  I still have him copy a paragraph every few days.  And I have dreams of eventually doing the outlining lessons in IEW.  One day. . .

Science – We’ve mostly been watching DVDs about science, particular earthquakes.  PWM also gave both kids a good explanation of the basics of a nuclear power plant – and the differences between what happened at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl, and Fukushima.  No, he’s not a physicist, but he understands this stuff better than I do, and he can explain it in terms the kids can understand.  My parents sent the kids each a piece of agatized coral along with an explanation of what it is.  Pretty cool!

Music – Last Friday night, the teens did a fund-raising dinner and show.  Wild Man’s band played several songs and did a wonderful job!  And, they raised a bunch of money!  This week, Wild Man and PWM have been busy with helping get everything ready for Easter service (which is held at the high school auditorium) and for EggVenture (also held in the high school, but in the commons).  The Youth Band plays today at 11:30am.  Wild Man is also learning a xylophone/bells part for one of the songs in the Middle School 7th and 8th grade band.  We’re rapidly approaching concert season!  (In fact, Wild Man and I did a manic shopping trip to get him dress clothes for Easter and band concert along with some jeans and T-shirts – since the child has insisted on growing something like 6 inches in the last year!!)

Rosie Girl

First of all, here’s the wonderful news!!  Rosie Girl got a 28 on the ACT!!  This is a really good score for anyone, but we had Rosie Girl take the ACT this year (in 10th grade) to get a feel for standardized tests, since she doesn’t have to do them at home.  We did have her do some review tests, but felt like she should have at least one “practice run”.  And she got a 28 on the “practice test”!  She definitely could do better in Math and Science.  The Math score should be better next year when she’s got some Algebra 2 under her belt.  And the Science will improve with time, I think.  PWM and I are incredibly proud of her.  She’s a bright kid anyway, but she worked through her nerves and inexperience to do very well!

History/Social Sciences – Rosie Girl wrote a nice paper a couple of weeks ago about three women missionaries.  She’s up into the twentieth century in her survey of church history.  (I really wanted to make sure my kids did this Core because I didn’t learn much about church history until college and beyond.  This Core is giving her some insight into why the Church looks the way it does today.)

Literature/Writing – This week’s paper was on Pride And Prejudice.  Rosie Girl chose to write about the relationship between Mr. and Mrs. Bennett.  I’m thrilled that Rosie Girl enjoys Jane Austen.  She’ll have a great time with British Literature her senior year.  My dad (Rosie Girl’s grandfather) asked Rosie Girl to type up a letter that my great-aunt had written to my parents that included several pages of memories about my grandfather, who died before I was born.  Rosie Girl finished that this week and we talked some about the insights she gained into her grandfather’s family.

Science – Rosie Girl is doing Chemistry with PWM these days.  I’m pleased with what I hear from their conversations.  I need to get her doing the lab portion over the next few weeks.

Bible – Having Rosie Girl read the prophets makes for interesting journaling.

Music – Next week is Piano Festival!  Rosie Girl isn’t all that excited about it, though.  She loves music and is very good at it, but doesn’t enjoy performing too much.  She’s also been helping our Worship Arts Director every week and has even agreed to play keyboards for worship on occasion.

So that’s our week.  What’s up with you?  Check out Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers to see what others did this week!


Saturday, April 09, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday – 4/7/2011


Well, I started it on Friday.  I hope it still counts – LOL!

1. What a headache week!!  I don’t want to repeat this too terribly often.  I’m feeling OK right now, but I’ve got insomnia because of the late nap that I took.  Grrrrr.

2. The weather is finally warming up!!  PWM and I walked today to get ice cream and then to the library.  Unfortunately, I only thought I had two books at the library, so we didn’t bring a bag.  The library was gracious enough to give us a plastic grocery bag, but it still would have been easier on PWM’s hands and back if we’d had the canvas bags.

3. In a week and a half, I’m starting to teach knitting at a local elementary school after school.  I’m very excited, but also worried.  You see, large groups of children scare me.  The good news  is that we’ll have several adults working with us, so it won’t be just me and 30 kids (I don’t even know how many kids are likely to come!).

4. Several of the library books are to help kids learn to knit.  I have, though, three books and each one teaches a different way to cast-on.  I’m going to start by giving the kids the needle with the first row cast on.  Once they can knit, I’ll teach the cast-on.  I’m pretty sure I’m going to teach the long-tail cast-on.  It’s not my favorite to use, but it’s very versatile.  Knitting on is really easy, but it’s not terribly elastic.  The “thumb method” or “backward loop” method is something I think is only suited for casting on the middle of a row.  When you use it as your first row, there ends up being a ton of yarn leftover at the end of the first row.

5. This week is the first meeting of the Fiber Arts Circle.  I’m really excited about this.  I know that one person wants to learn to knit.  I’m hoping some others will be interested to come see what’s up.

6. Wild Man is taller than I am.  I’m not ready for this.

7. Rosie Girl takes the ACT in the morning (as a practice run – she’ll take it again as a junior next year).  I’m not ready for this, either.

That’s what’s up in our house.  What’s going on with you?  Check 7 Quick Takes Friday to see what others are doing!

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Counselor, Comforter, Advocate, Helper?

I was having a little trouble deciding on what to write about tonight – chocolate or the Holy Spirit?  They are both good topics.  Excellent, truth be told.  Since I’m feeling all migraine-y which makes me think of spiritual things (albeit not all that deeply since it makes the headache worse), I’ll write about the Holy Spirit.

A couple of nights ago, I read John 16 in the NIV 2011 on  I really like that they have so many translations, but things can get a little confusing.  In John 16, I’m used to the Holy Spirit (paraclete is the transliteration, I believe) being called the “Comforter” from the days in my childhood when I used the King James Version.  The NIV 1984 uses “Counselor” and the ESV says “Helper”.  But, the NIV 2011 uses the word “Advocate”.  Hmmmmm.  That got me thinking.  Why did the NIV change from “Counselor” in the 1984 version to “Advocate” in the 2011 version?  As far as I know, there haven’t been any recent manuscript discoveries – although, not being a biblical scholar, I wouldn’t have known about it anyway.  What were the translators trying to express?

So, off to my trusty Broadman Bible Commentary and Barclay Commentary (thanks, Dad – they’re getting a lot of use these days!).  One thing that I have learned over the last several years is that words can change meaning over long periods of time.  That’s why I don’t use the King James Version for much real Bible study, preferring instead the NIV (and I’ve like the ESV on Bible Gateway although I don’t have the actual book version with all the notes).  I realize that my Broadman commentary is from 1970, but the authors do a nice job of explaining important words like “paraclete”.  The Broadman authors talk about the “paraclete” having two roles: the outward role of confronting “the world with the necessity of a drastic change in its notions of sin and of rightesousness and of judgement as a result of the coming of Jesus”; and the inward role to the church of guiding the church “into all the truth”.  Broadman translates “paraclete” as “Counselor” which emphasizes His role of convicting the world of the truth of the Messiah and His role of providing Christians with “insight to understand and of courage to apply those truths which the church has received.”

Barclay has a little more detail.  He says that “paraclete” is really an untranslatable word.  The closest meaning is “someone who is called in.”  Ummmm, what?  The Greeks used this word when they wanted to talk about someone who is called in to help “during a time of trouble or need.”  (And, in fact, Comforter was a pretty good translation when Wycliffe used it.  Over the years, though, the meaning has changed.  I think of a “Comforter” as someone who gives me a hug and tells me everything will be OK.  “Comforter” originally had the connotation of helping someone who is feeling dispirited to be brave.)  Barclay would use the word “Helper” to connote someone coming alongside to help another. defines “Advocate” as “a person who speaks or writes in support or defense of a person, cause, etc.”  When we read in John 16 that Jesus is going to send the “Advocate”, we are to understand that the Holy Spirit will not only comfort us in our times of trouble, but will guide us in truth and give us strength for the trials of life.  There is a sense of loyalty in the word “Advocate”.  It’s also a word of strength.  When life gets overwhelming, the Holy Spirit is our advocate, who walks with us to give us strength for the days ahead.

That’s what I need.  Comfort is important, but I need strength to get through days of migraines, to parent my children with love and grace, to stand with others who are facing illness and loss.  That’s what the Holy Spirit does; every minute of every day, if we allow Him, He’s right beside us, giving us whatever help we need right then.  (I’m listening to The Hiding Place on audiobook.  Corrie’s father tells her that the Holy Spirit gives us the faith that we need for each moment, not all at once.  And we don’t need to worry because the Holy Spirit is always here with us.)

What have you learned about the role of the Holy Spirit?  How has His presence affected your life?



John 16:33b - “In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart!  I have overcome the world.”

Saturday, April 02, 2011

7 Quick Takes Friday (Actually, Saturday) April 2, 2011


Today’s 7 Quick Takes is a knitting edition!  Between knitting and thinking about and planning for a yarn shop, I’ve become rather obsessed.  So, I’ll share that obsession with you!

1. I was keeping all my yarn in zip top bags and had all the bags piled in an antique crib/bassinet that was hand-made for my dad (60+ years ago).  Unfortunately, it was just about impossible to find a specific kind of yarn or to see what kind of yarn I actually have.  Over the last couple of weeks, PWM and I have been cleaning out books (a painful task!) and I got the large bookcase in the living room emptied.  I put all the yarn on the bookcase tonight, separated by fiber type.  Unfortunately, it just barely fits on the bookcase and bags of yarn have been “jumping” on to the floor.  So, I need to evaluate my yarn storage again.  Sigh.

2. Early in the week, PWM and I went to Appleton and talked with the owner of a yarn shop.  She gave us lots of good information, but it was her encouragement that was most helpful.  PWM and I are getting more and more excited about the opportunity to open a shop!

3. Last weekend, we looked at another downtown building for our shop.  The building used to be an accountant’s office downstairs and a dentist office upstairs, but it’s been empty for a number of years.  The downstairs would require cosmetic work to make a retail space, but the upstairs would need more work to be an appropriate living space.  In any case, that one’s on the list for consideration.  Exciting!!

4. A friend and I are starting a Fiber Arts Circle in our little town.  We hope to provide crafters the chance to get together to craft, learn from each other, and do charity knitting/crochet projects.

5. My current knitting obsession is little purses made from cotton yarn.  I’ve got a couple of designs that are fun to make and very useful.  They’re the size to hold a driver’s license, money, and a phone.  I’m calling them “essentials” purses.  A woman who lives down the street does glass work, so I’ve purchased some beautiful glass buttons for the purses.

6. I’m also working on a pair of socks, but instead of knitting them one at a time, I’m knitting them at the same time using the 2-circular needle technique.  So often, I’m kind of bored when I get working on a second sock, but this way, I finish both socks at the same time.

7. I blocked the sleeves to my Fair Isle sweater, so I can start working on the rest of it.  However, I have a cotton short-sleeved sweater that I’d like to finish first.  It would be really nice if I finished it before Easter so it could be part of my Easter outfit.

What are you working on these days?  Any fun crafts?

Check out what others are up to at 7 Quick Takes Friday!



Moral Messages In Media?

This post is inspired by a friend’s comment on Facebook about the movie “Tangled”.  Our family watched “Tangled” last night (and the kids put it on the DVD again this morning) and just loved it!  The animation is amazing, the plot is interesting, the characters have depth, and it’s just a fun movie!

Spoiler Alert!

The problem in the movie is that the hero starts out as a thief with very little in the way of redeeming qualities.  By the end of the movie, he is a good guy, but he never pays for his earlier actions.

You may have figured out by now that I have the ability to be a world-class worrier!!  I don’t practice that skill much any longer since I’m getting better at trusting God and not trying to control everything and everyone around me.  What are some of the media things I’ve worried about?

  • 1. Cinderella – a girl only needs a man to be happy.
  • 2. Beauty and the Beast – while it celebrates intellectual activities, the main character is not content with her life in the village and is disdainful of the villagers with “little minds”.
  • 3. Pocahontas – a complete travesty of history with overtones of pantheism.
  • 4. Harry Potter – I didn’t have issues with the witchcraft and wizardry, but rather with the hero’s ignoring the adults, breaking rules, and even using unforgivable curses.
  • 5. Veggie Tales – telling Bible stories with silliness – can this be good?
  • 6. Shrek – potty humor
  • 7. Pirates of the Caribbean – Jack Sparrow – need I say more?

And I could go on and on, but I think you get the picture.  There are no perfect books or movies.  And if there were, they’d be boring.  Even Bible stories often show people doing bad things and not always receiving the appropriate consequences.

So, should we shield our kids from anything that doesn’t have the appropriate “message”?  No.  When kids are very young, we should perhaps be careful to weight their books and movies (and lots more books than movies!) toward those with positive messages and generally good characters.  As our children get older, though, media can be a wonderful tool for both entertainment and education.  I’m not suggesting that we need to be overt in trying to teach our kids whenever we watch a movie or read a book.  Rather, we should make it a habit to read aloud to our kids (which we still do even though the kids are 12 and 15) and watch movies with our kids and make discussion a normal part of our family life.

This hasn’t come easily for me.  I’m learning to do my best as a parent and trust God for the outcomes.  While it does require work to be a good parent, it’s much easier than trying to be a perfect parent.  In observing families, it seems that the ones whose kids turn out confident and ready for the adult world are those who had good relationships in the family and who have been gradually given more responsibility.  We do have some hard and fast limits on our kids’ media exposure – no R-rated movies unless they are with a parent, no T-rated video games without parental approval, no more than 1 hour of media on weekdays, etc.  As they’ve gotten older, we’ve gradually loosened our limits (from PG movies to PG-13, etc.) but we still try to be involved and watch movies and read books with them and have discussions with them.

How do you handle media and moral messages with your kids?  Has it changed as the children have gotten older?