Thursday, July 26, 2007

Wisdom Shouts In the Street

"The novelist with Christian concerns will find in modern life distortions which are repugnant to him, and his problem will be to make these appear as distortions to an audience which is used to seeing them as natural; and he may well be forced to take ever more violent means to get his vision across to this hostile audience. When you can assume that your audience holds the same beliefs you do, you can relax a little and use more normal means of talking to it; when you have to assume that it does not, then you have to make your vision apparent by shock - to the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you draw large and startling figures."

Flannery O'Connor in Mystery and Manners

After reading about this author in WORLD magazine, I got this book from the library thinking it might interest one of my daughters. As I began skimming through it I came across this quote and it has just stuck with me. I have thought that not just novelists with Christian concerns, but Christians with Christian concerns have to face this very issue.

Unfortunately, I am not a novelist and do not have a means to put forth my ideas and concerns in such a detached way. I must deal with the problem that I have the potential to intimidate others and must decide if sharing my thoughts and ideas are worth it. Yes, using a novel to speak is an enticing idea, but I haven't the hint of imagination required for such a task. So I stumble along trying to walk a line that isn't clear enough for my liking because you often don't know you've crossed it until it's too late or if crossing it is really a bad thing. Even though it's been quite some time since I've been in any trouble, I still know that "shouting" doesn't always go over well, even when you are speaking in normal tones.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A Christmas Letter In July

As an update for our out-of-town friends and family, I decided to post about what is going on with each of us currently. Sort of like those letters you get at Christmas time. I apologize for it's length but there are nine of us to post about, you know.
There have been other seasons of upheaval in our lives, but we are currently enjoying a time of contentedness. We've experienced enough of hard times to know that God will carry us through when we cast ourselves on Him. But right now it's nice to see my family casting themselves on Him in thankfulness and appreciation and not taking good times for granted. We all have had a sense of being extremely grateful for all of the many blessings in our lives.
Ford has been enjoying a season of a rest of sorts ever since our brother-in-law, Kenny, started working for him. He's always had one great employee since we came to Tennessee eleven years ago, but now he has two great men that help ease the burden of running a business. He has been very thankful that the business is providing well enough to support three families and that things are looking like they are getting better and better. A website is being built by a very talented homeschooled young man and I'll share that here as soon as it's ready. This past year he has added a large addition onto his building and is currently building a lake down there. My sister has posted about that project here. He's been working hard but still finds time for lots of recreation with the kids like tennis, playing frisbee or floating down the river.
I have also entered a time of more rest than ever before. I have an army of children available to help take care of our home and land. Projects that would have overwhelmed me in years past are easily done in a short time. I enjoy many fun times with the kids. With the kids all getting older, I have been able to pursue more study time. The homeschooling support group that I have led for many years is growing and we are expanding it to include monthly activities, which includes a picnic at our house tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to the relationships that are growing and being formed in this group, and I now feel like I have some extra time and energy to devote to it. Some of my daughters have begun to be interested in coming to our monthly meetings and are catching the vision of this work.
Candace (almost 20) has come home to work here for me. She still runs errands when Ford needs her and takes an occasional babysitting job, but her main work is here. She has taken on the responsibility of grocery shopping and meal preparation along with other daily tasks. Her morning hours are allotted for study. I've been surprised that she loves it so much since she is such a people-person. She has decided to pursue studies in education and I couldn't be more thrilled. She has asked me to teach her all I know and feed her the right books. Next month she is going to be starting a nature study class for homeschoolers in our area. We have a fairly large building on our property and we are going to use one room for a classroom. She plans to put up shelves for nature collections and has fun plans for read alouds, nature walks, nature journaling and all sorts of fun projects and crafts. She is very, very excited about this project. At church, she has been working with the youth and may be leading a small group of girls this year. It's nice to see her enter into a rest and put her trust in the Lord for her future.
Priscilla (18) currently works nearly full time for Ford as his office manager. She dances two afternoons a week. She is busy planning for a mission trip in September and working on illustrating the fourth book in the Grandmother's Hope Chest series. She has been working with the young girls this year at church and this coming year is going to have her own class of 4th-5th grade girls. It's so sweet to see them come up and hug her on Sundays. Going to a L'Abri conference and a Worldview conference this year has spurred her on intellectually and spiritually. She has recently been a bit overwhelmed with all she has to think about so we came up with the idea of her hiring Hope to help with some of the things she needs done here at home. Hope is even going to start helping with the illustrating job. This has been a great relief to her and it's great for Hope to have some extra money. She recently posted about her consideration of a college in Missouri here, but she modestly failed to mention that the art director was "over-the-top impressed" with her work and said that she was already doing things that some of his first-year students never get. She likes the idea of pursuing more education in art, but she doesn't want to leave home so I've been looking online for her at colleges closer to home.
Kezzi (almost 17) is gearing up for her last year of homeschool. She has very recently been teaching herself the guitar and making quick progress. She is still dancing twice a week. Most of her free time is spent reading or running next door to play with my sister's babies. She is also helping out at church and tends to gravitate towards the little boys. Last month she and Priscilla had 16 children (boys and girls are mixed together in the summer) in their class and they managed them beautifully. She has a talent for managing the young boys, which is no easy task, as many of you well know. Kezzi has grown into a very responsible young girl and often steps into the place of my right-hand girl. She has grown a lot in her relationship with the Lord and in her willingness to be bold in her stands.
We have discovered an amazing secret about Hope (almost 15) this summer. She has been filling up a notebook with songs she has written. Amazingly, she can turn to any one and sing it for you. I can't even comprehend how she can remember all of those different tunes. Her voice is really good too. Candace dragged her up to me on day and made her sing one. Luke, who is not the flatterer, was sitting at the computer with his mouth open in astonishment at how good it sounded. I have been amazed to hear beautiful music coming from the piano, music that she has either composed herself or has heard somewhere. She has just begun to take piano lessons again after only having lessons for a couple of years when she was very young, and we are pursuing voice lessons. Actually, all of the girls are hoping to take voice lessons as they love to sing together. Both Ford and I are really excited to see this pursuit of music taking place in our home and we are planning on setting up a music room in the extra building we have.
Luke (almost 13) has found a passion for making videos. He purchased a very small camera this past year and has now graduated to using our mini-video camera. Our friends in Missouri showed us the Movie Maker program on our computer and he is going to start playing with that. His first filming episode was a close up of an ant hill that was very cool. Combining his love of nature and film will be a good wholesome pursuit for him as he is growing away from boyhood toys. He has also been working for Ford some afternoons. He is loving to learn man things and is always by Ford's side when it's time to repair something. For the first time ever, he asked me for some specific books and has been seen reading them during his free time. He has also been seen reading on his own from the field guides. This is a first. My sister came in the other day and saw him reading on the couch and whispered, "I don't think I've ever seen Luke with a book." So there is progress.
There isn't much to report on Abel (11) and Annalise (6) but they are enjoying being children. Annalise told me she didn't want to grow up because she loved being 6. They are both enjoying playing together, swimming and reading.
So that's what's happening at Shadybrook Acres. The older kids, especially, are relishing the time when we are still all together as a family, knowing that life may soon bring changes. I am relishing it too. It's a nice feeling to look forward to the future, while still enjoying the present and be able to look on the past with gratefulness for what God has brought us through.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

The Thinking Blogger Award

Thanks to Tim's Mom who has given me a Thinking Blogger Award!
Here is the information on The Thinking Blogger Award.
The participation rules are simple:
1. If, and only if, you get tagged, write a post with links to 5 blogs that make you think,
2. Link to this post so that people can easily find the exact origin of the meme,
3. Optional: Proudly display the ‘Thinking Blogger Award’ with a link to the post that you wrote
(I can't do this because my stupid computer is having some kind of problem importing pictures.)
The problem for me is that I really don't read too many blogs. Here are five that I read regularly and find much "thinking" material. I really would like to get out more and explore other blogs but between all of the books I want to read and fighting for computer time, it doesn't look very likely. So, here are my top five, besides Tim's Mom's blog.
These first three, Deputy Headmistress, Cindy and Granny are all slightly older mothers than I am and I have drawn much inspiration from them. I've had the privledge of meeting the DHM in person and talking to Granny on the phone.
4. The Lilting House Melissa inspires me to think of education as a way of Life.
5. Dewey's Treehouse is always full of treats. Lots of frugal ideas from recipes to educational materials and it's a great place to stop in to find out what's going on in the blogosphere.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Leatherback Turtle

Here's a picture from an activity in our Swimming Creatures science book. The boys had to draw the size of a leatherback sea turtle on the concrete. This was a great idea to help imagine their massive size.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Our Weekend in the Mountains

My sister, Lori, posted pictures and descriptions on her blog of what we did in the mountains a couple of weeks ago. So now I don't have to! Just pop over there for a visit and I'll keep enjoying being a slacker over here.

School Planning for Fall

This month at our local homeschool meeting we are going to be talking about schedules. There are some great schedule helps at Simply Charlotte Mason and a new online planner that looks great.

I'm going to post my proposed schedule for next year here mainly because I know some of the ladies read this blog and it will be nice to have this in a central place. I have 5 students this year, ages 17, 15, 13, 11 and 6. This schedule does not include my 17yo as she will be on her own schedule. My 6yo's routine will fit in with this one but not follow this exactly -more on that below. So this schedule is mainly for my three students, ages 15, 13 and 11. This is the basic format of what we have done for years. Sometimes I mix it up a bit because I just like change. I've been working hard on getting everything planned out so that afternoons are free for work or personal pursuits and this year we are going to try to be finished by 1:00. I give approximate times of each block and our planned starting time is 7:30am. Sometimes life happens and everything doesn't go according to plan but this is what we aim for. I am somewhat flexible but I guard this time and try to be purposeful about what I let take its place.

1 hr. - Bible (alternate doing this together & alone) and then Read Alouds during breakfast - poetry plus historical fiction or classics Monday thru Thursday, composer biography on Friday.

30m. - Math

30m - 45m. - Reading time #1 - History M, W, Fr and Science on Tu, Th

30m - Break - boys and Annalise exercise, Hope takes 15 m. of this time to practice singing

45m - Together Time - 1 activity for each weekday - US Geography with map questions, picture study & art, nature lore, science project, missionary stories

45m - Writing (various work - grammar, dictation, copywork, narrations, freewrites, other assignments)

45m - Reading #2 - Literature M, W, Fr and Geography Tu, Th

45m - Various:

M - Latin with boys / Hope gone to dance

Tu- Apologia Science with boys / Hope Science notebook page

W - Nature Study

Th - Latin with boys/ Hope gone to dance

Fr - History timelines and illustrations

The Reading times will mostly be times when each student reads their own books. In addition to this schedule some afternoons we will have a Poetry and Shakespeare Tea. We will play the term's composer throughout the day. I will try to encourage more handiwork this year. Music lessons will happen in the afternoon for at least Abel and Hope this coming year. Also sometimes the boys talk me into reading to them before they go to bed, usually just fun books.

Annalise will mostly do math and writing when everyone else does. One of the reading times she will read to herself and the other reading time I will read something aloud to her - mainly selections from Ambleside Online's first year booklist that we haven't read yet. She won't spend the whole alloted time on these things though, more like 20 minutes for each subject. She will participate in our weekly nature study, picture study and composer studies.

I tallied up how many times a week will do each subject and it looks like this:

Math - 5x

Writing - 5x

History - 4x plus historical fiction 4x a week - total of 8x

Science - 6x

Geography - 4x (includes missionary stories)

Composer - 1x plus music playing throughout the week

Art: Picture Study- 1x

Art: hands on- 1x

Foreign Language - 2x

I think that's pretty good considering we should be done by 1:00.