Sunday, June 29, 2014

Sunday Quotes

Right now.

And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness - secret wishes. I will do this so you may know that I am the Lord, the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.

Isaiah 45:3

Friday, June 27, 2014

Around Here

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Around here ... we had a great VBS week last week. It was the boy's first year to participate so all four kids were able to involved this year. The weather was great and we had a great group of kids turn out each night. I taught the 3-5 year old Bible study portion and had a blast ... and was wiped by Friday night. But so worth it.

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Around here ... we have had a couple of munchkins down with what I've affectionately dubbed the VBS virus. Ergo, there have been quite a few Star Wars movies the last few days.

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Around here ... so many legos.

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Around here ... I'm pulling the next book off my summer stack and getting ready to dive in. If the book is as good as the two page preface that I read this afternoon, it will be fabulous.

Errand buddies.

Around here ... we have driven around like crazy people this week running errands. They have been troupers and earned a donut stop one morning.

"Wait ... and then wait again. No where are we promised an easy time when we obey God or we reach what we think is the answer. We are just to wait, trust, obey." #shereadstruth #ruth

Around here ... I'm finishing up the study of the book of Ruth along with #shereadstruth. Such as good study on waiting on the Lord and then waiting some more.

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Around here ... filling out lots o' paperwork for our homestudy. Slowly and steadily making progress.

Summer boy.

Around here ... summer is slipping by way too fast. So thankful for these sunny days.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Book Talk :: King Solomon's Mines by H. Rider Haggard

I came down to the pool with every intent of getting in with the kids but it's just too cold. Spending time with this book instead.

King Solomon's Mines was the June choice for the Reading to Know bookclub. It wasn't a title that I was familiar with, so I snagged a copy of this book several months ago and was actually able to put my hands on m copy when June rolled around. Minor miracle, right there. : )

This is the story of the adventurer, Allan Quatermain, and his adventure deep into the heart of Africa with two other English gentlemen, in search of a lost brother and the legendary (and most likely fabled) diamond mines of King Solomon. Things start out tamely enough, but the story quickly escalates into encounters with herd of African wildlife, lack of food and drink, and eventually falling headlong into a remote area with a vicious tribe where their lives are in danger. The book was rife with peril and danger and fighting and adventure and, for the most part, my attention was well kept as I read the book. Some of the descriptive parts were beautiful. One that I flagged:
When we came up again the moon was up, an shining so brightly over sea and shore that she almost paled the quick large flashes from the lighthouse. From the shore floated sweet spicy odours that always remind me of hymns and missionaries, and in the windows of the houses on the Berea sparkled a hundred lights. From a large brig lying near came the music of the sailors as they worked at getting the anchor up to be ready for the wind. Altogether it was a perfect night, such a night as you only get in Southern Africa, and it threw a garment of peace over everybody as the moon threw a garment of silver over everything.
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One thing I was struck by, that would probably appall most readers today, is the view of the animals of Africa. In chapter 4 they come across a herd of elephants and one of the men encourages the others that they should "have a go at them." They track the herd and shoot several of them for the pleasure of the hunt. The main narrator says:
... firing away as quick as we could load we killed five of the poor beasts, and no doubt should have bagged the whole herd had they not suddenly given up their attempts to climb the bank and rushed headlong down the nullah. We were too tired to follow them, and perhaps also a little sick of slaughter, eight elephants being a pretty good bang for one day.
Can't you see a modern day animal rights activist turning a little green after those sentences?

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In spite of some of the decidedly dated views in this story, this was a great little adventure and one that I can see myself handing off to our boy as he is an older student. Some of the fight scenes at the end were a but much for me, but I think that is more of a boy/girl thing and probably wouldn't have a problem recommending. And while it's not necessarily a genre of literature that I see myself revisiting often (but, who knows?) it was a fun summer read and I'm glad I joined in with the RtK bookclub this month!

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Linking with Carrie at the end of the month of the June Reading to Know wrap-up.



Thursday, June 19, 2014

Book Talk: The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis

Our first read aloud in our summer of sequels. This has always been one of my favorite in the series.

I few weeks back I posted a photo of our current read-aloud on Instagram and commented that The Horse and His Boy was one of my favorites from the Narnia series. (Really, they are all my favorites, but I do love this book a lot). I was kinda surprised at the comments I got that said they didn't really care for this one. I thought I would share just a few quotes to show why I love this story so much.

The tale is of Shasta, an orphan boy trying to make his way to Narnia with his talking horse Bree. Along they way, they pick up traveling companions: Aravis (a runaway princess) and her talking horse, Hwin. They run in to one scrape after another and Shasta eventually, and quite naturally, gets to a point of being quite discouraged. Don't we all get like this as we are in the midst of seasons of life where we are struggling, or tired, or worn, or at the end of our own strength?
"I do think," said Shasta, "that I must be the most unfortunate boy that ever lived in the whole world. Everything goes right for everyone except me. Those Narnia lords and ladies got safe away from Tashbaan: I was left behind. Aravis and Bree and Hwin are all as snug as anything with that old Hermit: of course I was the one who was sent on. King Lune and his people must have got safely into the castle and shut the gates long before Rabadash arrived, but I get left out."
And being very tired and having nothing inside him, he felt so sorry for himself that the tears rolled down his cheeks.
However, he shortly finds that he is not alone. As he is traveling in the dark, along a path that he is unsure about, he hears a Voice.
"I do not call you unfortunate," said the Large Voice.
"Don't you think it was bad luck to meet so many lions?" said Shasta. ...
"I was the lion." And as Shasta gaped with open mouth and said nothing, the Voice continued. "I was the lion who forced you to join with Aravis. I was the cat who comforted you among the houses of the dead. I was the lion who drove the jackals from you while you slept. I was the lion who gave the Horses the new strength of fear for the last mile so that you should reach King Lune in time. And I was the lion you do not remember who pushed the boat in which you lay, a child near death, so that i came to shore where a man sat, wakeful at midnight, to receive you."
Isn't it a comfort to know that even when we are unsure, scared, at our end, there is someone traveling along side us the whole time? Shielding us with his presence, guiding our steps even though we don't recognize it? Reminds me of the Israelites when the Lord spoke to them through Moses: "I Am that I Am." Exodus 3:14
"Who are you?" asked Shasta.
"Myself," said the Voice, very deep and low so that the earth shook: and again "Myself," loud and clear and gay: and then the third time "Myself," whispered so softly you could hardly hear it, and yet it seemed to come from all round you as if the leaves rustled with it.
And then the realization that he was being cared for all along.
"I see," said Shasta to himself. "Those are the big mountains between Archenland and Narnia. I was on the other side of them yesterday. I must have come through the pass in the night. What luck that I hit it! - at least it wasn't luck at all really, it was Him. And now I'm in Narnia.
And then, at long last, Shasta is home.

A wonderful reminder to me, through the gift of fiction, that I am constantly on a journey home. This is not my final stopping point, and there will be difficulties and pitfalls along the way. But the great I Am, God Almighty, walks right alongside me, illustrated so beautifully here in the picture of Aslan walking alongside Shasta. And that, right there, is why I love this book so much.

This is part of our Summer of the Sequel reading plan. I'll eventually be linking this book up with Amy's Read Aloud Thursday wrap-up at the end of the month, and Carrie's July Narnia read-along.

Monday, June 16, 2014

The Question, Chapter 1

I'm slowly reading The Question by Leigh Bortins this summer and have managed to finish chapter 1 in bits and spurts. This book is a discussion of the dialectic stage of education - the stage where the child is naturally questioning anything and everything set before him. I admit, I am struggling with this stage of parenting. The constant debate that this age child needs to have about every. single. conversation. can be wearying. Being reminded that this is a completely natural stage that children go through (which exhausting for me!) is encouraging ... and I'm looking to this book to encourage me that I can parent and teach through this stage.

Here's one such quote that encouraged me ... in the foundation stage of CC, the emphasis is to memorize, memorize, memorize! My kids do great with this - me, not so much. Leigh points out:
We adults often feel bored by repetition because our business does not afford us time to find the loveliness. I do not want my children's education to be so fast-paced and so abstract that there is no time to meditate on the fantastical. I do not want them to treat glorious facts as mundane.
On the surface those sentences may not look like much but they are encouraging to me ... one who feels like she has passed the point of really being able to memorize like her kids ... and know that's not true! To slow down, take my time, really work at the art of memorization. I know when I spend time with a verse or passage of Scripture and think on it and let it roll around in my head for a longer period of time, it becomes so much more meaningful to me. Truthfully though, I don't spend lots of time doing that. To eager to finish the study, check off the lesson, move on to the next thing. Point taken: slow down for better and longer lasting learning.

Another point that stuck with me:
Modern educators often want their children to like learning. In contrast, classical educators want to prepare children to work hard at learning until the skills become enjoyable.
Most skills that are worth learning are hard and it should be that way. Its a good reminder to me ... when I struggle, it's not so much that it's an "old dog learning a new trick" as much as it is moving the muscles when I am stretching and learning something that is new.

Not quite a book review, this is more of a reader's diary as I work my way through The Question by Leigh Bortins with my friend Amy this summer. More soon, I hope!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Currently :: June

Loving :: a Friday at home. We have had a busy week with Tuesday-Thursday spent at our local Classical Conversations Practicum. Encouraging, inspiring, educational and all that jazz. Lots of good conversations with like-minded mama friends ... some I know well and some I want to know more now!

Thinking :: of what needs to be done next. The practicum is wonderful, and it seems like such a little thing to be gone for three days, but it adds up. Laundry must caught up. The things that we came in and dropped each evening need to find homes and rooms need tidying. A grocery list needs to be made for the weekend.

Eating :: salads, berries with Greek yogurt, asparagus. Trying to make the most of summer produce. I won't lie - I would absolutely love a Big Mac right now. : ) 

Enjoying :: That school is done! Grades are turned in and I've packed up (most of) our 2013-2014 materials. Learning will still take place this summer and we're going to move into that routine next week. Multiplication fact drilling for two girls; addition and subtraction fact drilling for one; copywork (the book of Romans) for all. And LOTS of reading. 

Making :: phone calls. A potentially big project is on the horizon and it's starting with phone calls. 

Plotting :: a birthday/Father's Day lunch for Sunday. Taking my inspiration from this episode of the Pioneer Woman's show (recently watched on a rare moment on the treadmill). 

Struggling :: with the to-do list v. the time to get it done list. 

Savoring :: summer evenings outside. The last few days the bulk of our outside playtime has been after dinner. The sun is going down and friends are home for the evening and there has been many a wild and crazy gang of kickball out in the culdesac. We have a great group of kids in our neighborhood, and they have a lot of fun playing together. We are thankful.

Celebrating :: Travis' birthday this week. Dinner with our small group friends on Tuesday night, hanging out as a family on Thursday (the actual birthday), and a family birthday lunch on Sunday. He's worth celebrating multiple days. : ) 

Reading :: the list is growing long, but actually checking them off has been tricky! (Typical summer overambitious reading plans...) Of late, I've finished:


- I can't decide if I liked this one or not. I wanted to finish it to see how it ended, but whether I'll pass it on to the girls or put it in the pile to get rid of is undecided.
iPhone Only Photography, David Molnar
- this was a book I was sent to review and it is packed full of little tricks and tips on how to use your iPhone to its full potential as a camera and tool. I was impressed! One of these days when I don't have so many things to haul with me I'll shoot more with my big camera. In the meantime, I really am so thankful for the fantastic camera that my phone has that has allowed me to capture my children and our memories. 
The Water Castle, Megan Frazer Blakemore 
- loved this one! This is by the same author that wrote The Spycatchers of Maple Hill (review) and it was just as good. 

In process or to be started:
The Question, by Leigh Bortins
- would like to participate in Amy's read along of this one this summer, but it's the first week and I'm already behind! I've started it at least!
King Solomon's Mines, by Henry Rider Haggard
- for the Reading to Know bookclub
Many, many other books in my pile!

Photographing :: pool pics. Love watching them have fun and wear themselves out.

It's her summer to grow in confidence in the water.

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Sunday, June 08, 2014

Sunday Quotes

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The gospel of grace affects our present by focusing on God's unmerited favor in the past and promoting godly living by focusing on the future.

- from the Bible Knowledge Commentary, while studying Titus this week

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Book Talk :: The Storm Makers

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Another fun find that I discovered on a recent trip to the library. (Have I mentioned that I love my job pre-reading books for my girls?) Our children's department has a table of books that have won or been nominated for the illustrious Volunteer State Book Award. A few weeks ago, a stack of The Storm Makers caught my eye and one made it into our bag to take home.

The Storm Makers tells the tale of Ruby and Simon, twelve year old twins who live with their parents on a run-down farm in Wisconsin. They have recently moved here when their parents decided to quit their jobs in the city and "follow their dream" - their dad spends most of his day in their barn working on his invention and mom has dreams of becoming an artist. Ruby and Simon keep hoping that things will pick up in their new location, but the weather has been extremely hot and dry, the crops are doing well, and things aren't looking good for their parents' second careers. To top it off, the weather starts acting strange ... random bursts of wind and rainstorms (or the lack thereof) take place with no rhyme or reason. Except, Ruby starts to notice things seem to rise and fall with Simon's emotions.

Ruby isn't the only one that has noticed. A mysterious stranger arrives in their town and tells Ruby that Simon has a gift - part science and part magic - and can affect the weather. He is one of the rare and secret group of people called Storm Makers, and they are given the responsibility of watching, guiding, and protecting people from weather. While Ruby and Simon are trying to take this all in, and second (and of course, also mysterious) stranger arrives, also interested in Simon's power. Each claims to have Simon's best interests at heart, but who really is to be trusted.

This was a fun little story that I enjoyed reading. It would be enjoyable summer reading if you are looking for something on the lighter side, either as a read-aloud for the elementary age crew or independent reading for 8 and up, at least judging by my crew.

FYI: This book reminded me of Savvy by Ingrid Law which I reviewed ages ago. Another story of a coming-of-age + coming into unusual special abilities story.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Summer Bucket List :: 2014

We are thisclose to being done with school for the year. I have plans for a few things that we are going to do scholastically over the summer, but for the most part, we are going to shelve the books until mid-July and take a nice long breather. I have my eye on several projects around the house and some things I want to study and read up on and I know the girls are going to try and see how many consecutive days they can talk me into taking them to the swimming pool.

With that in mind, we put together a VERY SIMPLE summer bucket list. I know myself. If I don't have some game plan at the beginning of summer, this might be the third year in a row that I forget to take the kids blueberry picking. As I'm sure I've mentioned before, planning is my strong point; my weakness is follow-through. : )

If you get on pinterest and google summer bucket list, you can definitely find quite a variety. I wanted a way to display some of our ideas that didn't cost me anything and I was able to use supplies I had around the house to put it together. I actually started with this pretty picture on Instagram. (Her whole feed is full of gorgeous ideas of things that she does with her kids).

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Washi tape + post-its.

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The post-its weren't staying up on the wall on their own so I added some extra tape to keep them up.(We have a ceiling fan right over where this is on the wall and when it's on, it creates quite a breeze in the kitchen). I did most of the writing on the notes, but you can see (below) where someone has added an idea or two of her own.

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I think she's a little optimistic about how much time it will take to watch all those movies!

Ideally, as we do each activity, I'd like to replace each post-it with a photo from us doing the outing / activity. Then, even more ideally, I might put those in some sort of mini-book at the end of the summer. We'll see how that pans out.

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On the list this summer:
I'm sure some activities will get added as the summer goes along and some will get dropped altogether. All-in-all, it's shaping up to be a pretty fun summer regardless!