From the simple to the crazy, and some thoughts in between

When I began writing this on Saturday, I had a very simple agenda.    I wanted to focus on getting out one set of grades and the Sunday School lesson.   With that done, on Sunday I could focus on the oldest’s prom dress.  BUT…the kids danced on Friday night—late, like midnight—at a local outdoor event.    (Sorry about the picture quality; the lights were so bright everywhere, and these were with my cell phone).


After enjoying their performances, I returned home and crashed into bed.   Me and my mesquite-smoke-scented hair.    So, this morning, I prepared to wash my hair.   But instead of the braid-out that I’ve grown so accustomed to, I decided to go with 2-stranded twists.   After all, I need to keep my hands away from my hair a bit.   Right now, my hands are always in it—touching my new growth, checking for moisture, etc.   Lord, please don’t let my hair become an idol. 

Anyway, once I decided to twist my hair, I realized I was missing my shea butter soufflé (to moisturize my hair and hold the twists).  Down to the kitchen I go.   Once I got my soufflé mixed, I came back to wash my hair.   The twists took hours, so I was happy that the kids slept away the morning.    Once they got up, there were breakfast pancakes to cook—at noon.

Now with breakfast and hair out of the way, I needed to start a pot of chili for the evening meal, but had run out of chili powder.   My husband was okay with going to get more, so I started to get my computer and begin the grading process.   But first, I’d get a quick picture of my hair in its newest style.   As I turned the corner to get the camera, I walked by the youngest’s room.    I didn’t take the time to give it the pick-up that it needed (she should do that, right?!), but she can’t make the bunk beds just yet, so I climbed the ladder and got it done.    Then it was picture time.    I tried in the bathroom mirror, I tried with different cameras, but I could not get the right picture.    Finally I had my son take it.    I’ll hold on to the end result so that I’ll have something to show regarding progress later on.

With the picture taken, I again prepared to sit at the computer.   But I couldn’t possibly sit down at a computer without folding the clothes that have been next to the sofa for a couple of days now.   So, I folded clothes and started the pot of chili that I should have begun hours ago.   

So, nine hours after I set out to do so, I’m finally beginning to evaluate assignments and assign grades.   Does anyone else have this type of day?

When I’m not trying to unravel my plans into something that I can actually execute (which is all too often), I’ve been thinking.  It’s almost time for summer, and I’m late on my own schedule for next year’s planning, so my mind has been on books. 

 The oldest and I have been reading through Dante’s Inferno.   This book is considered an almost exact portrayal of medieval beliefs on the Christian faith.   In reading it, though, it occurs to me that the themes are similar, even in modern beliefs about life after death.    I’ve read similar portrayals in Mary Kay Baxter’s Divine Revelation of Hell

Led by the great author Virgil, Dante is escorted through Hell after he has fallen off the path of righteousness.    It is the hope of a demi-goddess that by showing Dante the eternal fate of those who do not walk with God, he will then seek to be restored.    So the trip begins, and so does my pondering.

One of the first groups of people that he meets are the peers of Virgil, called the Virtuous Pagans, whose lifetime precedes the rise of the Christian faith.    These men, and more specifically, their words, were considered great contributors to society—Homer, Horace, Ovid–but they didn’t know the Father.   Thus, their penalty in hell is simply that they dwelt there, with no hope of ascending to Heaven.    I never thought, as we are reading through history, what happens to those who lived before Jesus walked the face of this earth?   Are they given a chance at salvation?

Dante’s travels continue.   He descends further and further into hell, and the reader sees how creatively the punishments are crafted to fit the crime.    It is all too reminiscent of how we lift up some sins as if to say, “If those people follow 2 Chronicles 7:14, the rest of us would be alright.”     Is punishment in hell based upon what specific sins we commit in life?   I’ve never my taught my children this, either here or my children in Sunday School class.    I’ve taught them that all sins need repentance; without repentance, we will not meet our heavenly Father.    I’ve taught them that we are not perfect beings, but our quest is to strive to be more like Christ with each day, and to never forget, regardless of where life takes them, of His grace and mercy.     Nazi POW camp survivor Corrie Ten Boom said it best: there is no place that man so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.

Is hell the multi-storied chasm where we are punished according to our deeds here on earth?   I pray to God that I never find out.    However, I embrace the book for what its message was intended to make me do—think.    And I’m thankful that whatever the vessel that the Lord chooses to use, we are reminded once again of the need of a resurrected Saviour.   Thank YOU sooooo much.

What We’re Reading–March 2011


Why would I sit and read individually with kids who already read?

There are numerous reasons, from helping with interpretation and larger vocabulary, to increasing comprehension through the right emphasis and inflection of voice, to monitoring pace and making sure the books are read, not skimmed through.   However, the real reason that, after 7 years of homeschooling, I still spend time reading with each child in addition to reading to them as a group is simple: it is the one academic time period spent one-on-one with each child doing something very non-academic—curling up with a good book and giving each one undivided attention.   


After lunch, everyone gathers together for Bible study and a group read-aloud.   My preference would be that this happened first thing in the morning, but the afternoon accommodates for everyone’s internal clock and associated time it takes to get to the table awake and alert.    We’ve wrapped up the book of Proverbs, and the kids are developing their own books of wisdom, based upon an idea in our youngest daughter’s Bible.    I can’t wait to see what they’ll come up with by next week.

Our group read-aloud is The Fellowship of the Rings, the last of the Lord of the Rings trilogy.   We are almost finished with this series, and I am very glad we read the books rather than relying solely on the movies to educate us.   In fact, our kids stated very plainly that they much preferred the books over the movie.    Our son has taken a real interest in author Rick Riordan (of Percy Jackson and the Olympians fame), even reading the books that Riordan listed as his boyhood favorites.     So it’s been a real treat to introduce him to the origins of many of the modern fantastical writers that he enjoys.    I have to say, though, that unless there’s going to be an unexpected surprise at the end of this tale, Tolkien could have stopped at the destruction of the ring for me (although the marriages were romantic).   I can’t figure out what purpose will be served by all of the restoration to be done to the Shire, but with 20 pages left, I guess we’ll know by next week’s end.   “Learning through History” magazine has a nice tie-in to Tolkien’s work and medieval history that I look forward to sharing with the oldest once we’ve finished.    From here, we’ll make a somewhat stark transition to Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.


The oldest finished Emma recently (a bit out of time sync with medieval history, I know), and we had fun watching “Clueless” and drawing the connection from a 15th century classic to the quirky Alicia Silverstone version we enjoyed.     Sir Gawain and the Green Knight was a great story, and a quick read for both of us.   As it was my first time reading this one, I stayed curious regarding the end all the way through, but I’m thinking I’ll go with The Once and Future King (or maybe use both titles) when our son covers this same period of history.    My plan was to spend our next time together reading novels about Japan and China, but our daughter lost two books!!    Once I could breathe again, we had to make adjustments, and since she and our son had a project associated with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, they’ll head there instead.

Again, our son is doing a lot of reading on his own, following the path of one of his favorite authors.   The Flames of Rome moved past the heathenish nature of ancient Rome and into the persecution of Christians—still graphic, but a different eye-gate.     We’re using a “No Fear Shakespeare” version of   Twelfth Night, and will wrap up with a project similar to the oldest’s classic vs. modern themes.     Amanda Bynes’ “She’s the Man” is based upon Twelfth Night, including the names of the main stars and the setting.   The advantage of this is that it is easy for him to do most of the comparison and contrast; the disadvantage of this is that it is easy for him to do most of the comparison and contrast.   He tried to argue his way out of writing his own one-act play—the harder, more creative side of the assignment.   What is this noise about shying away from hard work?   Does he not know that dog won’t hunt in this house?

The youngest and I are falling in love with Old Yeller.    Yeah, I know that for a kid who barely survived parts of Bambi, this probably wasn’t a good move.   Yet, I wanted her– and the others—to hear this moving tale, and as I often say to them, there are so many references to this classic in the stories they watch every day until they needed to be acquainted with the original sources.   In fact, when our son began to argue that he couldn’t possibly come up with an alternate setting for Illyria, we talked about how many renditions of The Prince and the Pauper, or A Christmas Carol, or Cinderella he’s seen on all of those silly sitcoms he likes to watch.  It was a nice try, though.   Because she didn’t get to read through the Chronicles of Narnia with the older two, I had a great idea to begin reading through them with her.   I have not done justice to these great books, skipping days between reading.   I sometimes wonder if she has been able to follow along with the plot of The Horse and His Boy at all.   I’d almost abandon this project until she’s older, but I keep recommitting to daily reading, thinking that she’ll pick it up if I just stay consistent.    Of course, I say that, and I missed reading it today as we quickly approached the time to head to dance practices.    Ugh.

Our time with books isn’t all fun and games.   I’m constantly after the older two to express themselves more fully through the characters.   I’ll stop them in the middle of their reading with an obnoxiously loud yawn and say, “I’m sooooooo boooooorrrrrrred!   Read it again, and this time, entertain me.”    They’re no actors—this I know for sure.    The youngest, a very expressive reader who is a joy to listen to, jumps up from the table quickly.   She knows that once she completes math and reads with me, then there’s a break.    I worry that she’s way too young to have such a negative attitude about school.   But, as I was reading some old notes from a homeschool conference, I came across some notes I took from a Sally Clarkson conference.   She talked about family ways, and how, as mothers, we can show our kids how to respond to life by our own responses.   I later reflected on an older post by Linda Fay, when she talked about why her children read Plutarch, and giving their minds something noble and courageous to feast upon.    This is what I hope the kids will realize in time, and while I wait, I enjoy a smile, a laugh, and even an occasional cry while we uncover increasingly more stories.

Oh, the places you'll go…

Life has been far too busy to stop and blog about it.   I have missed writing; somehow, regurgitating old articles to place in new locations doesn’t replace the catharsis of penning my head and heart in a “now” moment.    Though I stopped in on a few of you, overall, I missed checking in on my blog buddies.   However, I suppose that living life should be higher on the priority list than resigning myself to plug in and add to my log.   

My commitment to myself and to my youngest to get out more has taken me to some interesting places in these last couple of weekends.   As a bit of backdrop if you’re not a regular reader of this blog, I took a survey on last school year of each of our children regarding their homeschool likes and dislikes.   The youngest had much to say in terms of her dislikes, which, after some pondering over her message, boiled down to the fact that she doesn’t get to have the same fun a s the older two.   So, as I made plans to put away the books a little more often, I found that a number of my friends with “two sets” of children, so to speak, had the same dilemma.    Guess who became the semi-field trip coordinator?    

The Blue Bell Ice Cream field trip was our first effort this school year of allowing that younger set to see that school can, in fact, be great fun.     This trip was to the zoo–no matter how many times you see it, it never gets old.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get to fully enjoy the zoo as I would have normally, because there was a weekend-long dance workshop for our older two beginning on the same day.    Personally, I think dancing from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. (with a cumulative 2-hr. break, thank God) is excessive, but who am I to squelch someone else’s passion?  We were tired just playing taxi!    Our older two were so exhausted at the end of the dance day on Sunday until they came home and climbed into bed–at 5 p.m. in the evening.   I had to gently force them to awake long enough for dinner and a shower.

The youngest was such an involuntary cheerleader for the older two during the entire weekend.   She never complained (too much) about having to hang out with us while her brother and sister danced all day.   So, with an in-the-moment opportunity to do something special for her, my dear husband mustered the energy to take her to a fall festival at a nearby church.   His tireless efforts to make sure the family has fun are one of the many things I love about him.       This little city girl loved a night in the country.

Following the zoo and the dance workshop, we completed “normal” school days for about two days before joining other homeschool friends at the Texas Renaissance Festival.


The Festival was tremendous, and such a timely exclamation point on our reading, given that the girls are both studying Medieval history this year.

After two more days of normalcy, the kids ended their week with a birthday party and Christmas play rehearsals (for our son).    Funny, I was going to write while work was slow about all of my plans during my waiting time.    Then, work picked up and, as you can see, the tours all around town never ended–so much for wait time!    I’ll post about it on the next round!