Sunday, July 31, 2011

garden buffet

I took these photos two days ago. Everything seen here as already been eaten or sent home with family living in the city. We're fresh out! (sorry, weak joke.)

Saturday, July 30, 2011

By wisdom a house is built

and through understanding it is established.
--Proverbs 24:3

This is a follow-up post from last fall's brief mention.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.
--John 1:1-4

Last year, I read most of a book chronicling one teacher's journey through a Waldorf education. I enjoyed his classroom anecdotes as he narrated each year's studies and events with the same students for eight years. (In a Waldorf school, the students generally have the same teacher for the first eight grades.) His descriptions of singing, movement and playing songs on a pentatonic recorder/flute sparked an interest in me to re-learn the recorder and teach my children as well. Each chapter describes in warm detail, the learning that each year brought to his students.
I enjoyed the flow of the language and imagined what the classroom and its outdoor surroundings were like as I pictured happy, content children being nurtured and loved for their child-likeness. I had very little issues with the academic content as it seemed to stem from a true desire to make learning memorable and enjoyable, not rushed by a calendar or testing dates. I can still go back and find passages that I enjoy reading and thinking about as I relate to my own past classroom teaching days and now those days here at home with my children.

The book was a welcome read in many ways and I imagine I will keep it on my shelf along with my other homeschool/education books.
I write all that to say, as a Christian parent I do need to be aware of the various philosophies that may present themselves to me as viable options of learning.
If you spend any time reading the about a Waldorf-style education, you may notice what I did which is that many of the blogs and websites I have been exposed to espouse this way of thinking, often without clearly identifying themselves as "Waldorf" parents.
They are often the ones who would be described as easy-going, non-judgmental, well-educated, creative, and open-minded. They write loving posts about their children and the home-life they strive to create. They are Moms and Dads who play with and enjoy their children and work hard to pass on the best of life to their children. They are not dogmatic in their views, but are doing what's best for their own family as should you. They are careful to protect their children from harmful or toxic environments and lovingly nurture their children's dreams and fancies. They see life as a spiritual journey and will often allude to having spiritual moments or inspirations and the desire to do what is good and right. They revel in the beauty of nature and give thanks for its generous kindness to them. And they teach their children to reverence and care for nature and its beauty.

Now, perhaps you may be saying, yes, I have read and seen what you are describing and what's so wrong with it? They are just the kind of parents we wish all children had, caring and nurturing their young ones. And I can agree with that. I'm not suggesting that we should shun this educational method altogether or its adherents. However, as Christians we need to be consciously aware that most of this is being done in the absence of acknowledging and worshipping the Creator and Redeemer, Jesus Christ. Nature is admired and extolled independent of its Maker. Thankfulness abounds everywhere except to the Giver. These things should not be.
The Waldorf school is spiritually-minded but it does not spring from the work of the Holy Spirit as revealed to us in the Word of God. The Bible is not the standard, it is simply one revelation amongst many, many others. This is religious pluralism, the can't-we-all-get-along way of thinking and is directly opposed to the gospel of Jesus Christ.
So while I read their books, follow their blogs and admire their creativity, I need to be aware that their worldview is an invented religion which needs to bear the scrutiny of the Word of God. (To be clear, this biblical screening process applies to any educational method or philosophy that we happen upon, whether it be Waldorf, Montessori, Classical, unschooling, etc.)

The Apostle Paul encourages us to think carefully:

See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
--Colossians 2:8

I make every effort to use discernment as I surf the web or browse possible book titles. If something seems off, it probably is. Again, it does not mean that I have to run very fast in the opposite way, but I do need to wisely evaluate the ideas and philosophies that underpin a seemingly innocuous blog or book. Knowing what the Bible teaches about all areas of life is the surest way to be able to stand firm and not be swept away by hollow and deceptive philosophy.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

zucchini delight

There really is only one reason I grow or buy zucchini: to coat it in egg and seasoned flour and then fry til golden brown. Oh yes. And to think, everyone runs around looking for ways to use up zucchini. Not me. :)

Now to make a really good dipping sauce...bah, some other time.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

grabby hearts

In my list of recommended books in the right sidebar, you will find several books on parenting, some written especially for moms. Clearly, I need lots of help. This is one of my more recent helps.

In Rachel Jankovic's book, Loving the Little Years, she writes a chapter called Grabby Hearts & Grabby Hands which so clearly lays out the goal for helping our children with selfishness, especially over things. She begins:
When our children are fussing with each other(say they both want a flashlight-very possible), we will interrupt them and ask them a few questions. First of all we ask them to tell us what they did that was wrong, leaving the other person out of the narrative. We will probably spend a minute sorting through the blow by blow, and then ask, "What is more important--this flashlight, or your sister?" After they answer(and believe it or not they do know the answer), we will ask them what they were pretending was more important. They know that too. So we tell them to get it right.
They need to apologize to each other for breaking fellowship over a flashlight. I like for them to say that because it makes it perfectly clear to them what exchange they were making. Flashlight for sister. This is not a complex "who had it for how long" situation. It is not our job to run in and settle the dispute as though it were an honest and legitimate dispute. Flashlights are not to come between us in fellowship. Ever.

Earlier in the book, she quotes from 1 John 1:7 where the idea of maintaining fellowship is taught.
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.

So instead of this being a virtuous lesson on "sharing your toys", it instead directs our children's eyes(ours too) to the gift of fellowship with Jesus and with each other and His sacrifice(which will always be greater than the one we are being asked to make)that purifies us from the sin of selfishness(anger and whatever else we need to confess). This is how we bring the gospel to our children everyday. It's showing them our sin and our need for a Savior.
Rachel then goes on to explain some good practical ideas for helping avoid these grabby hearts/hands issues.
She ends the brief chapter by saying this:
It is a lot harder to work through the grabby heart problems than the grabby hands, even though they usually travel together. If this part of parenting were only about toy distribution, then we would just be setting timers and keeping tally sheets. But teaching them about dealing with each other, looking to their own hearts, and staying in fellowship is hugely important if they are ever going to get on without you. If you take the time to train them in this, you will find yourself needing to negotiate less and less. When conflict arises, as it will, you will have less to talk about because they will recognize the real problem and be able to get the fellowship restored as quickly as they broke it.

Christian living transcends the "let's be nice and share" virtues. It reaches back to the cross of Christ and teaches us what it means to walk in the Light and have fellowship with one another. And we all need that lesson even if we don't need the flashlight right then.

(my girls enjoying fellowship, or something)

2011-2012 prep

Here's the current to-do list for the upcoming year:

- Read through Writing With Ease and select literature copywork. (I decided to not get the student workbook and pick my own copywork this year.)
- Watch Teaching the Classics dvds and read through accompanying text.
- Select new poetry for memory work, liking Henry Wadsworth Longfellow a lot right now. Looking into other books in series for ideas.
- Adding to Memory Work list, Nicene Creed (Presbyterian version), Book of 1 John.
- Go over Heidi's Book Lists compiled from her website into my own list mashed with other found reading lists. It's a rough, rough draft, but if you're interested I can clean it up a bit and email it to you.
-Work on Science lessons.
- Finish Seth's Chore Schedule. (just a few household chores to encourage a good attitude for work; gleaning from Created for Work.)
- Working on History lessons through The Middle Ages.(I rearrange order of lessons) Made it up to the Vikings so far. Incorporating church history people and events. Will post resource list soon.
- Printing figures for our wall timeline.

There's more of course, but this is the list I'm working on this week and next.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Susan from High Desert Home update

If you were a reader of Susan's High Desert Home and you were disappointed when she stopped the regularly blogging on it, then you will be delighted to know that she has started a summer blog called My Summer Notebook.
Perhaps we can convince her to make a Four Seasons blog. :)

Updated as of January 2013:  Susan has hidden all of her blogs and has stated her intention is to not return to blogging.  Her blog will be missed.

Also if you're interested in having one of the many wonderful recipes she posted and shared, I have shared her recipe for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins here which I copied before her blogs were taken down.

*Updated again as of January 2018: Susan has returned to the blogging world! You can find her at Analogue Life. (As of 2023-2024, it's now it's called Psalms.Coffee but same link works.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the promise of comfort

Do you not know?
Have you not heard?

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.

He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.

He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.

Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;

but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.

They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.
Isaiah 40:28-31

Please join me in praying for my friend, Norma and her extended family as they grieve the home-going of their baby daughter, Erica Faith. Norma and her husband Victor have two sons, Marco and Sebastian who are wonderful friends to my son Seth and who will dearly miss their little sister.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

saving money on food

Stocking up! I love those two English words. They have become my grocery chant as I lug full bags in the door. A few years ago, I stumbled across this idea of saving money on groceries by keeping a grocery price book and then stocking up on well-priced items.

So I created a spread sheet and sat down with my then recent grocery receipts and started entering products, size and price. Within a few short weeks, I had a good understanding of what I was paying for each item as well as discerning a great sale price from a lame one. I also learned industry terms like loss leader which describes the ultra sales prices usually advertised on the front page of the store flyers. I have trained myself to look at the grocery store aisles and shelves through the eyes of the grocery company and not buy the way I was being encouraged to.
I also try very hard to buy more of the single-ingredient items(fresh fruit and veggies, milk, eggs, rice, flour, butter,etc.) instead of the heavier processed items. I can't make everything homemade, so I try to pick those that are easy and convenient for me which so far is bread, muffins, cookies, pancakes, waffles or similar type foods. I haven't got into a regular routine with the homemade yogurt or baked beans but I have done both previously and aim to do it again. Having a small freezer chest has helped me stock up on items that would otherwise spoil before I could use them. I also buy mainly items with the most nutrition and reduced sugar levels, like whole wheat flour(although it is still not as nutritious as grinding my own), cane sugar instead of white sugar(I use it in place of sugar everywhere and less of it), whole wheat pasta, and plain yogurt with full fat that I flavor at home for the girls. I have some more work to do in this area but I need to be mindful of my family's tastebuds and ease them into the changes gradually. When I mentioned making homemade ketchup, my husband's expression immediately told me how gradual. :)

When I open my pantry, I can see how much raw material I have to work with but often the ambition levels just aren't there. Saving grocery money is not my sole ambition in life, but paying attention and planning ahead have helped me do better at using our money more wisely.
This is another article which helped me in this area.
How to Save Money on Groceries

Any ideas or suggestions on this topic are always welcome as usual.

enjoying creation

The dead bumblebee on the path to our house was just the encouragement I needed to go search out insect collecting gear and display cases. Pleased with such a find, we picked up the lifeless body, admittedly gingerly in case the little guy was just snoozing and would wake up mad. He truly was a goner so we inspected him with our magnifying glass once we go him in the door. He now sits up and away from the girls' busy hands ready to be pinned into a brand new display case. And we are on the lookout for new specimens to add to the collection, preferrably ones that have already expired. The new butterfly net was a great success and many moths and butterflies were merrily chased around with a select few being snagged and admired for part of the day before being released back into the Pennsylvania air.
We also have a growing rock collection to take care of and an ongoing seashell collection which needs space and attention. Don't tell Seth, but I think I like the collecting and organizing of the specimens more than he does. Why else do you think I bought this fun stuff for him? :)

I also picked these two books up and need to get the one on Butterflies and Moths. Very good for beginners like us.

Acorn Naturalists

Home Science Tools

Thursday, July 07, 2011