Saturday, November 10, 2007

Little Hobbit All-Stars

Our year-round school year has finally made it full circle. Eowyn finished her school year two weeks ago, but the little hobbits and I took a couple of extra weeks to finish. Since I previously published Eowyn's all-stars, I will now publish the favorites of Frodo and Pippin.

Bambi by Felix Salten
Mattimeo by Brian Jacques (not an AO book, but he loves the Redwall series)
Lassie, Come Home by Eric Knight

It's not a very long list, but then Frodo will never admit to liking any book. He was especially certain he wouldn't like Lassie due to the title being "girlie", but this turned out to be his favorite book of the year. I'm sure there were others he enjoyed, yet won't admit to.

Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (he liked this one so much we're reading it again this year)
Little House in the Big Woods (he especially liked the little stories about when Pa was a boy)
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson
When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne
Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne
The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams (he carried this book around for days after reading it)
Buffalo Bill by Ingri D'Aulaire
Aesop's Fables
The Burgess Bird Book by Thornton Burgess
James Herriot's Treasury for Children by James Herriot

Coming to the end of our first year of AO is bittersweet. Some of these books have become like friends to us, and we're sorry to be moving on. A few were so greatly loved that they will surely make their way into the rotation of bedtime stories with Papa. I am looking forward to making new friends though. Come Monday morning I will be saying, "Welcome!" to AO2 and AO5.

Friday, November 9, 2007

What's So Amazing About Grace... Apparently not much by the look on Pippin's face.

I guess if you really want to have a good time in Memphis you'd better hit Beale Street...

...for a plate of ribs. (check out Frodo's bowl of rib bones!)
And, the always entertaining Elvis impersonator!

Then it's time to head back to the hotel for some real fun...the pool and hot tub.

But, if you're from the Shire, you'd rather see wildlife than nightlife. The world may know Memphis for Elvis, Graceland and Beale Street, but the hidden gem of the city is their pretty cool zoo.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Eowyn's All-Stars

Eowyn has finished Ambleside 6 and has now moved into House of Education 7. What started out as a year of grumbling and complaining has turned into a year of joy and new discoveries. Eowyn has learned that she does like to read after all, and here is a list of her favorites from the last year:

Story of the Greeks
Story of the Romans
Where the Red Fern Grows
Call of the Wild
White Fang
The Hidden Hand
The Bronze Bow

She also learned that just because you don't LOVE a book doesn't mean you can't read it. There are other books from the AO6 list that she read and enjoyed, and some that she read and tolerated, and a few that she read and despised. Through it all she learned that she can accomplish more than she realized.

Now that she has started House of Education 7 she has already found a book she loves in the first week, The Gammage Cup. I wonder what other great books she will discover this year?

Thursday, August 2, 2007

You're Never Too Old...

August is finally upon us. That can only mean one thing in the Shire...Pippin's birthday! He has made his own countdown calendar to hang on the refrigerator on which he faithfully crosses off a day each morning. Hmmm...I think there's only 23 days to go.

You may wonder why I would put a picture of Arwen up when I'm talking about Pippin's birthday. That's because, at 17, she still gets excited about where Pippin will choose to go for his celebration. Today she nonchalantly asked Pippin if he would be choosing Chuck E. Cheese's (for the fourth year in a row). He said, "Yes." At this point there was no pretext of being cool or mature; she raised her fist in the air and shouted, "YES!"

Friday, July 27, 2007

Little Hobbits' Garden

Pippin my boy, full of joy,
How does your garden grow?

With basil leaves, tomatoes and beans,
and marigolds all in a row.

Pippin is eager to check his garden every morning. Often times he will be out there before we've even had breakfast. And, if I'm not able to go out with him to open the gate for him, he will go into the garage and enter the garden through the doggy door. I can't believe he fits through the doggy door! I guess little hobbits can squeeze themselves into small places.
At any rate, Pippin is very pleased with his garden. He and Frodo had been asking to make a garden for about two years, but I just never quite knew what to do about our horrible rock and clay soil until I found the book "The All New Square Foot Garden" by Mel Bartholomew. With book in hand, we went to the local home center and bought our boards, peat moss, compost, vermiculite and seeds. Voila! Instant garden, just add time...and water.
We have planted...
zucchini, watermelon, cantaloupe,

sweet and cinnamon basil, five kinds of tomatoes, green beans...
and marigolds, cucumber, dill, parsley, oregano, and cilantro. Pippin also planted one piece of our popcorn to see if it would grow. It did, and we now have a little corn stalk about 8 inches high.
Pippin is seriously looking forward to the watermelon and cantaloupe! As for the veges, he doesn't like many of the summer veges. What he's really looking forward to are the cool weather veges. He's counting the days until he can plant his carrot seeds and sugar snap peas. Frodo, for the most part, likes lettuce and carrots. We will have to plant some more lettuce next month to carry us through the fall.
I think it's amazing what children will do if given the opportunity to make something of their ideas. Childen shouldn't be relegated to making macaroni necklaces and other useless twaddle just because they're young. Frodo and Pippin were only 8 and 4 when they first developed the desire to plant a garden. At the ages of 10 and 6 they were able to bring their idea to fruition. We are now reaping the harvest of their notion...literally!

Monday, July 23, 2007

OSA National Event 2007

We're home safely from the OSA National Event 2007 in Birmingham, AL. My only regret is that we weren't able to be there for the whole event. God willing we will be there for the entire week next year.

Ahhh...there's nothing like standing in the hot sun proclaiming the truth of God to a God-less nation. If only we would repent of our wickedness and turn our hearts toward God, then He would hear from heaven, forgive our sins and heal our land. Without repentance our nation is headed for great disaster. It is only a matter time before the heavy hand of God's judgement falls upon us. Like the ancient Israelites, He will use our enemies to plunder and destroy us, and no one can turn back the hand of God.

The Battle of Two Seeds is displayed on the streets outside the abortuary. On the left are the proud sign-wielding supporters of murder on demand. On the right is my friend Mrs. W "giving them heaven", as our pastor would say. She is surrounded by several other Christian messengers ready to deliver God's message to America.

The ridiculous owner of this abortuary actually told me she was doing "God's work".

God's work?I think not!

Aside from the important work of exposing abortion for the heinous act of violence it is, we did have the honor of hearing from two distinguished men of God speak. The first is Alabama Senator Hank Erwin. I was very impressed with his honesty and the intensity in his desire to rid his beloved state of abortion. There was no hemming and hawing like you get from most politicians who are unwilling to offend any one. (meaning, unwilling to lose any votes!)

Next, we got to hear Judge Roy Moore speak after Senator Erwin. Judge Moore is an eloquent man of principle, unwilling to compromise the name of God Almighty for the sake of political correctness. During his talk, he walked us through some American history to show us how the current liberal tide has twisted the words of our founding fathers to further their flagrantly wicked agendas.

If only he would run for president. But, alas, American does not deserve a godly president. We will have to suffer under the judment of God until such a time as we as a nation repent.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Mom My Ride

Just a little ditty to make you chuckle and smile...

Time Flies...

Oh, my goodness, it's been almost two months since I last posted. Where does the time go? There have been some changes in the Shire. For one, Arwen is no longer working at her part-time job. It's a bit of a mixed blessing, but due to some of her own actions she has lost the privilege of working. It's nice not to have to run her back and forth to work anymore...very nice. It was putting about 800 miles a month on our poor mini-van that already has over 120,000 miles on it, not to mention the amount of time it took from our busy schedules to do the chauffering. The only downside is that she misses the money she was making.

One of the best changes recently has been the seeds of a new Charlotte Mason home school co-op that I've planted along with four other lovely ladies. I've tried other co-ops in the past, but none of them were CM which means that although they were good for what they were, they really weren't working in harmony with what we are doing at home. This new co-op will compliment our home school and work with what we are doing, instead of just adding outside commitments that we don't really need. I've very excited about the new co-op.

Other than that, we're about to leave for a trip to Birmingham, AL. We're going to OSA's national event for a few days. Tomorrow night I'll get to hear Judge Roy Moore speak at a rally. I can't wait to hear what a defender of the faith has to say. Then we will be standing as the voice of the innocent during the day and attending rallies at night. It will be a long, tiring trip. It is hard to stand up for what is right when the culture you live in is against you, but I would rather stand up to scornful mortals than have to stand in the presence of Almighty God knowing that 3000 innocent children were murdered in American abortuaries each day and I did nothing to stop it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Oma Surveys the Damage

Oma Hobbit has finally gotten to see her house after the flood of last week. It's not pretty. I was hoping the step up from her garage into her house would have been enough to keep the water out of the living areas of her home, but it was not to be. The water rose even higher than that. All of her carpets and furniture are ruined. Her house is going to have to be gutted and all the flooring and drywall replaced. Everything is covered in a thick coating of oozing mud and dead worms. It's only a matter of time before the mold begins to grow.

A friend of mine saw my mother on Omaha's Action 3 News and sent me the link to a video clip of her being interviewed. I started crying watching my mother tell the reporter that she had lost everything, while choking back tears to speak. Who ever expects to see their mother on the news telling a reporter they've lost everything? It's surreal...for me anyway, and all too real for Oma.

Alas, there is a dichotomy to the situation. Oma has always been too consumed by the pursuit of material possessions. I can definitely see God using this as a means to clean house - literally. Now Oma must throw away all the things she has clung to for so long. All the things she has pursued, all the things she has cherished, hoarded, overspent on, gone in debt for, in a word - idolized, will take their ultimate place in the dump where all material possessions truly belong. I'm sorry that Oma's very house has been ruined, but I'm not so sorry that all of the 'stuff' has been put in its proper place. I only hope that she will learn from this lesson and never elevate things above their place again.

Some people might think I sound like a harsh person. I'm truly not. I would say to such a person, "You don't know Oma." Oma is a hoarder and compulsive shopper on a grand scale. She lives alone, since Opa passed six years ago, in a three bedroom house that is plum full of crapola. Every room is filled. You cannot even use the bedrooms because they are filled to the brim with boxes and bags of useless stuff. In addition to her house, Oma rents two storage sheds to store even more stuff, and yet, she continues to shop. It's sad. I've actually had nightmares over the years of Oma dying, and leaving me to sort through and get rid of all this baggage on my own. I have an older brother, but he has MS and in time will be of no physical use to me in this cleaning-out-the-junk endeavor. I'm not a harsh person; I want my mother to be free of the bondage she is under to material possessions.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Socialization: Homeschooling vs. Schools (outside link)

It was Theodore Roosevelt who said, "To educate a man in mind and not in morals is to educate a menace to society."

Many homeschoolers share this sentiment when it comes to public schools, believing that the moral relativism, violence, peer pressure, drugs and promiscuity found inside their gates provide an inadequate setting to properly socialize their children.

Yet 92 percent of superintendents believe that home learners are emotionally unstable, deprived of proper social development and too judgmental of the world around them, according to a California study by researcher Dr. Brian Ray .

(click the link below to finish this fascinating article.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Oma Got Flooded

I guess into every life a little rain must fall, or in Oma Hobbit's case a dike or three must burst and flood your entire neighborhood. My poor mother is now homeless...homeless with a house and property that have been destroyed by flood and must still be paid for and restored whilst she lives on social security and the kindness of her friends.

Lo and behold, pretty much no one in her neighborhood had flood insurance. When Oma bought the house four years ago I suggested she get flood insurance, but she said it was too expensive for her, and besides, the city had improved the dikes after the flood of '93 and they would surely never flood again. HA!... that would be why I now see a picture of a fellow boating down the main street into Oma's neighborhood. That's correct, take a right after the second mailbox, go two blocks down and you will arrive at my mother's house. Don't forget your galoshes.

I hate that I'm so far away from Oma, too far to help. I would drive the 1200 miles up to get her, but then she wouldn't be there to get her property cleaned up. She's kinda stuck. I can't go there; she can't come here. What's a family to do? She's hoping for some government assistance, but I told her not to hold her breath. I wish we had the money to help her. Again, no breath holding. All I can do is pray for God's will to be done, and wait for the tears that I know will be coming once she can get back into the neighborhood to see her house early next week.

In an effort to explain to the children, especially little Pippin, how serious Oma's situation is, I turned to pictures. This is the one that brought understading to Pippin. I explained to him that this is Oma's Arby's - the one we ate at the last time we went to visit her. And yes, I did copy these without permission. I'm hoping the folks at the World Herald will forgive me since this is the only way I have any pictoral insight into what's happening with my mother across the miles.

I would also like to mention a hero in the whole situation; Pamida is that hero. If you don't live in a region with Pamida stores then let me tell you they are similar to Wal-Mart only smaller. Anyway, Oma's local Pamida store gave her about four changes of clothing, all the basic toiletries she needs, and some canned food. She feels very grateful and so do I. Oma had to leave home with the clothes on her back and thanks to Pamida she now has enough to get her through. If you live near a Pamida store, go there and buy something!

Monday, May 7, 2007

Mama's Recipe Fakes: Annie's Woodstock Dressing

"The thick, full flavor of this new dressing might take you back to the “summer of love” when “three days of peace and music” in Aug. ‘69 changed our culture forever. With its smooth, luxurious texture and hearty, hip tomato & nutritional-yeast flavor, this tangy dressing with nutty characteristics (but no nuts!) is groovy on spinach salad, pasta, couscous, rice, pork chops, as an embellishment for soups or a sophisticated topper for baked potatoes. Also a delicious non-animal source of vitamin B-12. Dairy-free, No Added Sweetener, Vegan"
I'm a big fan of Annie's Naturals salad dressings. What I'm not a fan of is the inflated price charged by my local grocers for a little 8 oz. bottle of the stuff. Can you believe at my local store an 8 oz. bottle costs $4? - That's $64 per gallon! ( Help! Methinks I've been robbed!) It's only $2.49 on the Annie's web-site. Of course, buying from the web-site will also include a shipping fee, so I just can't seem to win. My only course of action is to try to make it myself. That's just what I've done. Below is my recipe for Annie's Naturals Woodstock Dressing (my favorite for dipping raw veggies in).
1/3 cup warm water
3 pieces of sun dried tomato (not oil packed)
*soak tomatoes in water until slightly softened
1/3 cup EVOO
1/3 cup canola oil
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
5 T. soy sauce
3 T. nutritional yeast flakes
2 T. tahini
3 large cloves garlic
*add all ingredients, including tomatoes and soaking water, to a blender
*blend all ingredients until tomatoes are pureed and mixture is emulsified
*refrigerate until ready to use
If you're not into making your own dressings, or you would like to purchase something not available locally, I would strongly recommend that you visit the Annie's Naturals web-site where you can purchase items individually or by the case. You get a discount for ordering a case.
In addition to salad dressings, you can purchase Annie's ketchup, mustards ( I love Annie's Organic Dijon Mustard), marinades and flavored oils.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

"Jack and Jill" by Louisa May Alcott

Hhmmm...this is a tough book to review due to the fact that I just flat out didn't like it. I actually couldn't even finish it. I was expecting some sugary sweetness which is customary to the time period in which it was written, however this is just over the top in syrupy sentiment. I genuinely like the genteel manners and speech of this time period, which is why I was so surprised by my not liking this book. It was just page after page of creme puff cliches with a cherry on top!
In addition to the never ending cheesiness, there was the chapter in which the boys of the book decided they would be much better off if they were more like the girls. It is said in this chapter that even the mother of one of the boys (she, a highly respected character in the book) would rather have her son socializing with the civilized girls than roughhousing with the uncouth boys. This is a pet peeve of mine in modern society - the feminization of boys. Boys need to be boys, and girls need to be girls, and all of us can have decent manners without compromising our God-given gender.
Anyway, I was prepared to be charmed by this book, but was woefully disappointed.

Friday, May 4, 2007

"David Copperfield" by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield is considered to be the most autobiographical of all of Dicken's novels. It is by no means a time line of his life, but there are some parallels. I won't get into the similarities here; that has been done by others more knowledgeable than I, and you can find their work with a quick google search. I do, however, want to tell you what a delightful book this is.

I was charmed by David and the host of other characters created by Mr. Dickens. You get to start the book at David's birth and follow him through his life to middle age. I found myself laughing in some parts and crying in others. I was indignant with some characters and ready to throttle some; if they had been real people I would have lost my dignity and blacked their eyes. I feel compelled not to tell more of the story because I don't want to spoil it for anyone who hasn't read it. So I will make this more of a recommendation than a narration.

There you have it...I highly recommend this book. I don't know how I managed to miss reading the classics when I was in my school years; I intend to make up for that now. I also intend that my children not miss out on the 'Great Conversation'. For now only Arwen, Eowyn and Frodo were old enough for it to hold their attention, but it's so good that it will be read aloud again in the Shire once Pippin is old enough. I don't want any of my children to miss this one.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Who Needs Toys?

Several years ago, when Arwen and Eowyn were still small, I read an article by John Rosemond in our local newspaper that said children should only have ten toys each. I also read somewhere recently that it is best not to give your children toys, but give them tools. I can't remember exactly where I read it; I think it was probably in an issue of "No Greater Joy" magazine. Many would balk at this notion. Why, after all, how can Johnny enjoy himself and learn things without toys? I've found that our children enjoy themselves much more without many toys. They're always happiest when making their own fun.
Here I've put a recent picture of Frodo on his homemade tree climbing thingamabob. He used a rope, a belt, a pair of gloves, and let's not forget my Crapemyrtle tree! He was so proud of himself when he got to see the idea he had formed in his head become a reality by the work of his own hands. I wish we had a more sturdy tree for him to climb on, but we just don't have any good climbing trees here at the Shire. Even without good climbing trees he and Pippin find all sorts of things to amuse themselves. It could be boxes one day, or building a fort under a very large bush in our backyard the next. All things accomplished without the aid of toys. Untold hours of enjoyment without the aid of toys. Lots of learning without the aid of toys.
Don't get me wrong, they do have some toys. But, unlike a lot of American children they don't have enough to supply a small orphanage. We've gotten rid of hundreds of toys gifted by well meaning relatives, and will surely get rid of even more since they mostly collect dust while every box that passes the threshold becomes a celebrated boat, airplane or rocket ship. Who needs toys?

The ants go marching one by one...

Hurrah, hurrah, the long awaited ants have finally arrived! Pippin, who would like to be a "bug expert" when he grows up, received an Uncle Milton's Ant Farm for Christmas.

We promptly mailed off the coupon for the ants to stock it with, and have been waiting four months for them to arrive - four long, agonizing months for the little bug expert. Eowyn came in from getting the mail today and announced, "Pippin, you got some mail!"

"Who's it from?" asked Pippin.

"Uncle Milton...?" replied Eowyn, somewhat perplexed.

I was perplexed for a moment too, thinking, "We don't have an Uncle Milton..." But, then it struck me. "It's the ants!" I cried out.

Pippin was beside himself with excitement. He wondered how the ants had made it through the mail in an envelope without getting crushed. I told him they were probably in a plastic tube of some kind. He couldn't wait to open the big yellow envelope and finally lay eyes on his beloved ants. Sure enough they were in a little plastic tube with instructions to place them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes to calm them down before placing them in their new home. In the refrigerator they went and the kitchen timer was set for 15 minutes. Pippin sat watching the timer the whole time, occasionally announcing how much longer until the ants "were done".
Finally the time was up and we carefully shook the tube of ants out into the awaiting ant farm. Now the ant farm and all its inhabitants are spending the day being carried around our home because Pippin doesn't want to part with them. They have sat on the couch to look at books, they have gone to the bathroom, they have gone to Pippin and Frodo's room to play, etc.
Thank you, Uncle Milton, for pursuing your idea and bringing such joy to my little boy, and surely many others through the years.
And, yes, there really is an Uncle Milton. If you want to learn more about him click on the following link to read a brief interview he did in 2006 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Uncle Milton Ant Farms:

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Two Inches of Ivory

I just finished reading Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. As with all of Austen's novels, I loved it. Miss Austen, to me, is the premier author of 'chick-lit'. I have a tendency to read heavy tomes full of useful information, but every now and again I need to let my brain rest by reading a novel. I try to limit my novel reading because I get too engrossed in the good ones and can't seem to put them down. This can lead to sleepless nights and/or unfinished chores - not a good example to the little hobbits!

One phrase that I come across several times in reference to Miss Austen is her speaking of writing on two inches of ivory. I could never figure out what this meant, and thought perhaps it was some saying from a hundred years ago that had gone out of use. Not satisfied with this supposing, I decided to do a google search and see if I could come up with a clear answer. I was delighted to find the following write up on another site:

Culture Corner:Jane Austen's Laptop Word-Processor

On Wednesday I paid a visit to Jane Austen's house at nearby Chawton in Hampshire. Unfortunately she wasn't in but a nice lady in the front parlour selling souvenirs allowed us to look around on payment of £2 each. It was very strange looking over this modest little cottage where Miss Austen spent the last years of her short life, and where she completely revised and finally agreed to have published the most-read and best-loved novel in the English language.

One of the many items on display that belonged to Miss Austen caused me considerable astonishment. My mother-in-law died ten years ago and among the odds and ends in her writing box, that had belonged to her grandmother, was what we, including my mother-in-law, had aways assumed to be a fan. A somewhat clumsy fan because it consists of a swatch of ten thin rectangular ivory panels held together with a single rivet. Each panel measures approximately five-inches long by two-inches wide.

It isn't a fan, it's a late 18th-/early 19th-century word-processor. Paper was expensive, therefore those who used a good deal of it first composed their paragraphs on these wafer-thin ivory panels before making fair copies on paper. Pencil could be erased with one's fingertip, ink erased with a damp cloth. The order of paragraphs or sentences could be changed depending on which panels were exposed from the main swatch. Other advantages were portability -- it could be carried in a pocket and used on one's lap because the wafers were sufficiently rigid to make a desk unnecessary.

The fan explains a paragraph in one of Jane Austen's letters to her sister, Cassandra, which has always puzzled me, in which she refers to `The little bit (two inches wide) of ivory on which I work ...'

Out of curiousity I composed this entire post on the fan using a pencil. The efficiency of the device is remarkable. Each of the above paragraphs is written on an individual wafer. The post actually started with the second paragraph with the opening:
`An item on display in Jane Austen's house at Chawton caused me considerable astonishment ...'
I moved it from first to second place simply by switching the wafers around. Longer paragraphs were continued on the reverse. I've taken to carrying the `fan' with me and jotting notes on it. Although it's 200 years old, I think it'll last out my lifetime. If it inspires me to write a tenth as well as Jane Austen I shall be well pleased. -- James Follett

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Good and Garlicky...a book review by Mama

Have you ever had something that you like so much that you just
want to tell others about it? This book is one of those things for me. "Good and Garlicky, Thick and Hearty, Soul-Satisfying, More-Than-Minestrone, Italian Soup Cookbook" by Joe Famularo is my undisputed, all time favorite cookbook.
Mr. Famularo is an Italian-American who grew up eating many of these soups lovingly prepared by his mother, father, and various friends and relatives. Throughout the book you will find that many recipes begin with a little background story about how Mr. Famularo first came to know and love the recipe to follow.
Most cookbooks sound good, but the majority of the recipes fall flat. I haven't had one soup failure yet. I did try one recipe that was yummy, but more trouble than it was worth (Chicken Soup with Custard Diamonds). Other than that the other recipes have become family favorites. So much so that Monday is now officially soup night in the Shire. Our three family favorites are Rosy Minestrone from Rome, Sicilian Soup with Sausage, and Chicken Soup with Vegetables and Parmesan. They've all entered into the Monday night rotation each month. On the fourth Monday I try to try out a new recipe or end up making Chicken Tortilla soup which is also a family favorite.
If you're a soup lover like we are, I highly recommend this book.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

"The Way Home: Beyond Feminism, Back to Reality" by Mary Pride

This has to be the best book on basic Christian living I have ever read. It was written over twenty years ago, yet, aside from some outdated statistics, it is still spot on for today's Christian adult. I always hate it when I see a book review that says something to the effect of "this book is a must-read for every person who breathes oxygen on the planet", but I really feel that way about this book.

There are huge problems in our nation because there are huge problems in our homes and churches. Not only has the pagan world bought the lies of feminism hook, line and sinker, but the church has as well. As the church of God has conformed to the lifestyle of pagan America it has maligned the name of God, lost its way and forfeited its power to change society. We are to be in this world, not of it. Now people who call themselves Christians live their lives no differently than the lost and then wonder why the church no longer has any effect on society. It's because, "If we are no better than they are, why should they think God's standard is any higher than theirs"?

There needs to be a revival among God's people to repent of our selfishness, pride and arrogance, and turn back to living the way God ordained us to live. Mrs. Pride's book is an excellent tool for pointing sincere Christians back to the narrow path. If I could afford to purchase these in bulk I would, and I would give one to every Christian man and woman I know.

Monday, April 23, 2007

The Reluctant Reader

Sometimes I wonder if Eowyn is genuinely reading the books that I assign, or if she just skims over the words without taking in their meanings. Of all my children, Eowyn is the one who doesn't like to read. This is my fault. She was not ready to read in the first grade which brought a considerable amount of consternation from all my relatives who were already certain I was ruining the little hobbits by educating them at home. Her lack of readiness to read only brought more stress to an already stressful situation wherein I felt I had to prove myself to others, especially since our first year of homeschooling was her first grade year. I panicked; I pushed. It was not always pretty. At times I even thought she was refusing to read out of rebellion. That was when it got ugly. I actually yelled at her for not reading. Screeched is probably the better word. My eyes are welling with tears as I write this.
Sometimes when your children are small, you don't realize just how small they are. You expect too much from them too soon. They want to please you, but at times find it impossible. That was the case with Eowyn. When this happens, when the expectations are unattainable, your child loses hope. She knows she can't please you by doing the thing you have demanded, so she becomes a little withdrawn from you. I wish I had known then what I know now. I wish I had realized just how small she was. I see it now. I see it in little Pippin who is in first grade this year. I look at him and stand astounded that I could have ever yelled at Eowyn when she was his age. I didn't realize how small she was.
I have apologized profusely over the years, but the damage is done. She is now a reluctant reader. She shies away from school readings and wouldn't read aloud for all the tea in China. There is always hope though. She has forgiven me for being a crazy, looney mom when we first started homeschooling. She didn't for several years, but seeing me patiently working with Pippin who is also not a quick reader has softened her heart. She sees that I'm sincere in my apologies by my actions with her little brother. Just today she came to me laughing and said she had read too much of the book I had given her today. It is "White Fang" by Jack London. She likes it. She got caught up in reading it and before she knew it she had read more pages than were assigned for the day. Hearing that she is enjoying a book is music to my ears. However, having her laugh with me about is is divine.
Don't forget just how small they are. Little hearts can break quickly and mend slowly.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"Lieutenant Hornblower" by C.S. Forester

"Mom, this book is so lame. I can't even tell you what's happening in it," says Arwen.
"What page are you on?" says I.
"Page 28, and I don't even know what it's about," replies she. "It's one of those books where hardly anyone ever speaks. The author is mostly just describing things. And, when people do speak pretty much all they ever say is, "Aye, aye, matey!" in her best pirate voice, "and things like that. I hate books where no one ever speaks."
(( shy, but chatty when you get to know her, daughter hates books where the people don't speak much and the author waxes poetic over the descriptions of everything he can think to describe. That would explain her extreme dislike of Sir Walter Scott.))
"Try just one more chapter," says I. "Then, if you still can't stand it, you may put it aside."
Case closed. We shall move on to "The Scarlett Pimpernel"; perhaps that will not be so lame.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Term 2

Term two is in full swing. We have finally finished week 18 of this school year which means we are halfway done. We should, according to the schedule, be about eight weeks further than we are, but no matter. The weather is fair, the garden is in, and we are happily enjoying our days. We can always work through the summer when the weather in the Shire is too hot and humid to stir from the hobbit hole. Honestly, we've been moving more and more toward a year round schooling schedule since moving to one of the southern states from the midwest a few years ago. In the midwest even autumn and spring had dreary, inclement weather that kept us indoors, but here in the south autumn and spring are glorious!

Gone are the days when I fretted over finishing every jot and tittle of our books no later than the end of May. The early years of home schooling are always the hardest; when you are filled with hopes, expectations (your's, and those of other people), fears and uncertainties. I liken it to the awkward teen years. Youth was grand, but I wouldn't be a teen again for all the world. Give me wisdom over youth any day! Home schooling is now a way of life, not something that we do between the hours of 8 and 3, Monday through Friday, September through May.

Or, there are the new home schooling moms who have diligently read all the "how to home school" books, and come into it thinking they are experts before they've even taught a day. I'm guilty of being bewildered and fearful of ruining our little hobbits our first year. Then, reading everything I could get my hands on over the following summer, and starting the second year feeling like I was the Heloise of home education. I soon realized that children aren't as easy to turn as the pages of a book. Actually, I'm using the adverb soon somewhat loosely here. I spent quite a bit of time banging my head against the wall wondering why the little hobbits weren't responding to my fabulous plans/method/schedule like I had expected. After all, the books said...

Anyway, God is good. He has loved me, and held my hand through it all. It would have been easier if I hadn't kept trying to tug in a different direction though.