As the name of my blog indicates, I spend a lot of time thinking about home. Of course, my Heavenly Home is the one that is eternal, so that’s where I need to lay up my treasures, and that’s the one I’m striving for. But in the meantime, I have been given this tiny piece of the here-and-now—this nearly six-acre tract of land, this farmhouse, this domain—in which to serve Him. And, though this is in the earthly realm, I want the things that happen here to be investments in the Heavenly realm.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Hats

My mother loves hats, and wears them well.  She has worn hats for special occasions all her life, including last Sunday. 

Me?  I look awful in hats.  A few years ago, I had a cute winter hat that matched my coat.  Someone took my picture wearing my "cute" hat...and I have never worn a hat since.  It was that bad.  (Don't ask to see the picture.  It no longer exists.) 

Hey wait a minute...now that I think about it, Mom coerced me into wearing a hat at a tea party that she hosted (she actually coerced all the guests) and then took pictures.  (Note to self:  Don't ever be caught in such a weak moment.  Ever again.)


BUT, if I were invited to the royal wedding, and if I were going to wear a hat to compliment my gorgeous designer dress, it would certainly NOT be one of these.  


Bekah said the blue one looked like an open beak. 
Kristin thought it resembled a canoe.

Can anyone say "Gertrude McFuzz"?


But, really now, doesn't this one on Princess Beatrice
take.  the.  cake? 
Really?



(Hat pictures from abcnews.com)

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Are You Lighting the Fire?

It is that time of year again.  The time of year that I panic because of all the things we haven't accomplished during our school year.  After twenty years of homeschooling, I still don't have it all together.  And this particular year has me even more in a dither because (~shudder~) Kati is graduating and (don't judge me)...I haven't taught her everything yet.  (Oh no!)

A couple of things keep me from full-blown panic. 

First of all my husband is my homeschool cheerleader!  "Don't look at what you haven't done.  Look at all that you have done," he encourages.  That is not the same as the glass-half-full kind of thinking.  It is a step-back-and-look-objectively kind of thinking.  And he is right.  When I do that, I really can see all the great things that have happened in the hearts and minds of my students (and, truth be told, in my own heart and mind as well).

Another is taking some time to organize my record-keeping.  I outline what each student has done in each subject area for their portfolios, fill out a simple form with an overview of materials and resources used, update book lists.  When I see it all in black and white, I'm usually impressed myself!

~ Panic subsides. ~  (For now.)


So how can I confidently graduate Kati, the same Kati who doesn't know everything yet?   I look for fire. 

A wise man* once said, "Education is not the filling of  a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

I cannot fill my children's pails.  I cannot pour into them everything that they need to know.  How can I hope to, when my own pail is not full?  There will always be gaps.  There will always be new things to discover, more to know, more to unravel.  

But is the fire lit?  Is there inquisitiveness?  Is there thirst to learn and to unravel and to explore?

Charlotte Mason said it this way:      
Our aim in Education is to give a Full Life.—We begin to see what we want. Children make large demands upon us. We owe it to them to initiate an immense number of interests. ‘Thou hast set my feet in a large room,’ should be the glad cry of every intelligent soul. Life should be all living, and not merely a tedious passing of time; not all doing or all feeling or all thinking—the strain would be too great—but, all living; that is to say, we should be in touch wherever we go, whatever we hear, whatever we see, with some manner of vital interest. We cannot give the children these interests; we prefer that they should never say they have learned botany or conchology, geology or astronomy.  

The question is not,—how much does the youth know? when he has finished his education—but how much does he care? and about how many orders of things does he care? In fact, how large is the room in which he finds his feet set? and, therefore, how full is the life he has before him?
~ Charlotte Mason's Original Homeschooling Series, Volume 3
  
What an encouragement those words offered me as I read them recently, after a time of wishing that I had just a few more weeks, or months, or years, to fill Kati's pail.  I was encouraged because I realize that Kati does indeed care.  About many things.  I believe that her feet are in that large room of which Charlotte spoke.     

As I said in this post,
I know that she will [go on learning], because she has partaken of the feast of living ideas and beauty...and who cannot satisfy an appetite that has been whet for a feast?


Homeschool mom, don't worry about filling that pail, just continue to light the fire!  (And I'll come back to read my own words next year when the end-of-school-year panic threatens!) 

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

* The wise man is thought by some to be poet William Butler Yeats, but the source of the quote cannot be confirmed.

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

More thoughts on learning...
- Who is Teaching?
- Endings and Beginnings
- Moments With Living Books
- Morning Time

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sunday Snapshots (And More!)

The idea of "Sunday Snapshot" was to share one (or even two) glimpses of our Sunday afternoons, but this week there were SO many Kodak moments, that I just. couldn't. choose.  If you think you can't tolerate too much cuteness, feel free to skip this post and come back another day.  :-)

* ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ *

Resurrection Day!  The celebration of Him...His plan, His redemption, His Kingship, His Glory!  We had a precious time of worship with our church family, remembering His sacrifice in Communion (showing forth the Lord's death until He comes), singing the glorious songs of His resurrection, honoring the King with our worship. 



Back at home...some of us prepared for our family dinner...



while some of us watched (literally watched) for the family to arrive.   




Highlights of the day:

~ Dinner, including traditional ham, ambrosia, and  The Best Potato Salad in the World (made by my mom).  Here are the little ones at the kitchen table.  Somehow, I didn't get a photo of the adult table in the dining room.  Do you think it's because we're not as cute? 



~ We also fed ourselves fweets...carrot cupcakes, coconut cream pie, coconut cupcakes, and Peeps-on-chocolate-nests.  Oh yeah.  We really did have all those desserts.



~ Of course, this little girl was in many of the day's highlights.


Alaine, eight months old



~ Gammy has given every one of her grandchildren, and now her greatgrandchildren, their first Bible (a tiny New Testament in either pink or baby blue) on their first Easter.  Here, Alaine receives hers.  (Peter got his blue one in the mail.)


Gampy holds Alaine

Papa gets a kiss
 
Aunt Kati snuggles with her niece


~ Hunting for chocolate eggs!

I think Owen found one!
 
~ Dressing Alaine in her jammies for the ride home.


~ Papa giving Owen (clutching his bag of chocolate eggs) a piggyback ride to the van.



There were even a couple of highlights for which we have no photos.  

~ Sharing some photos via Facebook and Snapfish of family members who couldn't be with us.  Our thoughts are never very far away from those we love...

~ Gavin (our eight-year-old grandson) quietly sneaking up behind Papa who was engaged in some after dinner conversation...and SCARING the THUNDERATION out of him!   Of course, Gavin was thrilled, and all were amused (including the victim himself).  The rest of the day, Papa looked for opportunities for payback, and Gavin skulked around afraid of his own shadow.  Good times!  

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Good News

Yes, there is good news!  In fact, news just doesn't get any better than
"Jesus Lives!" 

Jesus, our Savior, God incarnate--He lives! 

I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: "I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God." That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.  ~ C.S. Lewis (Mere Christianity)

And He is risen...just as He said!






Blessings to you as you celebrate His Resurrection!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Cleaning {Bloggy Style}

In my first post here at Thinking About Home, I told you that I don't make hasty decisions.  I've been considering some updates in my blog design for some time...but today I decided to go for it.  

Just to let you know that you may be seeing some changes here while I do some bloggy spring cleaning!   


With my rudimentary computer skills, I am struggling with the picture for my blog header.  Stay tuned for further progress.  (I hope there's progress!)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Sunday Snapshot(s)


Having tea (or lemonade)...




...joined by Buzz as "Mrs. Nesbit."


"Sucking down Darjeeling with Mrs. Nesbit."


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Spring Photo Shoot







photos by Kati

Friday, April 15, 2011

Morning Time: Spring Edition


Planning for Kati's last term of Morning Time before she graduates from homeschool was hard.  What one more poet do you choose out of the myriads who have written beautiful poems?  What one more composer is the one whose music we can't miss?  What Bible verses should we commit to memory...out of all of the Living Word of God?  What hymn do we end with?  Sigh...

There is no other way but to just go on, collecting those little grains of sand, and knowing that Kati will continue to collect them on her own.  I know that she will, because she has partaken of the feast of living ideas and beauty...and who cannot satisfy an appetite that has been whet for a feast?


So this last Morning Time, the one shared by the three of us, looks something like this...

BIBLE READING
We continue our journey through the Epistles, which has taken us to II Timothy. 

BIBLE MEMORY
We are memorizing Romans 8: 35-39.  (Oh, what powerful verses!)

SING A HYMN

We are singing “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling," and I am reminded of how much I love the lyrics of Charles Wesley.  Every word of every hymn that he wrote is full of meaning. 

POETRY RECITATION
Kati: “If” by Rudyard Kipling
I have an observation and a question to consider.  We read “If” several times when we were reading Kipling.  Since then, Kati and I have both come across this poem in our own reading.  I noticed it as I was reading The Charlotte Mason Companion (it is not the first time I've read the book), and Kati recognized a portion of it in Shadow of the Almighty.  Two very different books...same poem...and one that we so recently learned.  So the question is this: Why are we suddenly surrounded by this poem?  Is it because now that we have read it, we notice it, where before we would have passed it by?  I cannot help but wonder. 

Bekah: “Teddy Bears' Picnic” by Jimmy Kennedy
This fun little poem is actually a song, and I had a 45 rpm record of this song, sung by Bing Crosby, when I was a little girl.  (I know I'm dating myself, but you knew I was not a spring chicken anyway.)

Mom: “Crossing the Bar” by Alfred, Lord Tennyson  

POETRY EXPOSURE

We have been reading the works of Rudyard Kipling, and now we are reading the poetry of William Wordsworth. 

LISTEN TO A PIECE OF CLASSICAL MUSIC

This term we are listening to the music of Richard Wagner, even as we have learned some disturbing facts of his ideology in our study of World War II.

ART APPRECIATION
We are enjoying the landscape paintings of JMW Turner.  Turner was a turn of the 19th century British artist who, instead of painting portraits or historical paintings as those before him had done,  was innovative and painted the out-of-doors.  You can see his influence in the Impressionist movement only a short time later. 


Turner's The Fighting Temeraire1839
 ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

For more reading about "Morning Time":

An introduction to our own "Morning Time"
What Is Morning Time? by Cindy Rollins
Cindy's Inspiration for Morning Time
Kathy's "Morning Stack"

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Double Digits!


This week, Bekah moves into the world of double digits.  Yes, my baby, the youngest of my four blessings, is ten years old. 

Here is a Polaroid that someone in the delivery room snapped, only moments after she was born...

Mere minutes after her birth!


...and here she is at around two weeks old...

We called her Itty Bitty Bekah!


...and here is our girl today, our gift of love, having grown in years and in beauty (both outside and inside). 


We thank God that Bekah is a part of our family, and we pray that she will continue to grow in His grace and His love. 


~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~ * ~


For those of you who don't know the marvelous story of our Bekah, I share my post from last April: 



Rebekah Hope.



For many years, we hoped for another baby, another child to love and to live and to grow with. And then we found out that she was coming at the very time that we would not have chosen ourselves. It was after I had had a very serious illness, and was on multiple long-term medications. And I had just turned forty.


So then we hoped that this little gift within would make it. Not only were there real concerns about the effects of the drugs I was taking, but I had had a middle trimester miscarriage five years earlier and that fact caused apprehension. Then I had complications in the pregnancy, including one dark day when I hemorrhaged so badly that my OB doctor assumed that I was miscarrying, but sent me for an ultrasound to confirm before performing a D & C. Imagine my elation when the baby’s heartbeat sounded loud and clear! So we kept hoping.


I’d like to say that we hoped for nine long months, but on a Sunday morning seven weeks before my due date, my water broke, and I spent six days in the hospital hoping that she would stay put a little longer, hoping that her little body would be ready to enter the world a bit early. Then labor was induced, we learned she was in breech position, and Bekah was delivered by C-section at 9:22 on a Friday night. After giving our tiny girl a quick examination, the neonatologist turned and gave us a thumbs-up sign and we breathed a big sigh of relief.


Bekah spent the next ten days in the NICU, and then came home with an apnea monitor, and then had difficulty gaining weight, but by the end of the summer, she was the plump little baby in the beautiful smocked dress at her big sister’s wedding!


So today, our little “hoped for” Rebekah is nine years old and we are rejoicing. She is beautiful, bright, tenderhearted, opinionated, musical, talkative, artsy, indecisive, feminine, delightful—a true joy to our hearts and our home!


Happy Birthday, Rebekah Hope!


~ ~ ~ ~ ~


For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent [her] to the LORD; as long as [s]he lives [s]he shall be lent to the LORD.” I Samuel 1:27,28

Monday, April 11, 2011

Sunday Snapshot


Birthday party...


Bekah blows out TEN candles!


Friday, April 8, 2011

'Panish, Huh?


My friend Dana shared this story on her Facebook wall:
Lilly just asked me a question in her "baby" voice. I said, "Lilly, if you speak like a baby, I won't answer you." She repeated her question in her normal voice. I answered her, "Yes, baby, of course you can!" Busted.

So funny! 


Bekah once had a "baby" voice too, complete with "baby" pronunciations.  When she was about three years old, we were shopping for groceries in Walmart.  We passed by the sale rack of day-old baked goods, and she spied a box of donuts. 

"Unt do-nuh," Bekah grunted. 
(For those not familiar with this particular dialect, that was translated, "I want those donuts.") 

I responded, "I'm sorry, Bekah, but I do not hear Baby Talk."

Always quick with an answer, Bekah's exasperated reply was, "I was not talking Baby Talk.  I was 'peaking 'panish."

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Potpourri of Poetry Ideas


Teaching poetry to children can begin when they are babies! Learning the joy of words and rhythm and ideas as expressed in poetry can foster a lifelong love.

Our children’s earliest exposure to poetry came through nursery rhymes. It was quite a natural thing for me to teach my children nursery rhymes, as my mother had read them to me, as her grandmother had read them to her. Also in early childhood, we read a wide variety of poetry—from limericks (Edward Lear is a favorite) and nonsense verse (such as poems by Ogden Nash), to the beautiful expressions of childhood by Robert Louis Stevenson found in his A Child’s Garden of Verses. A. A. Milne’s When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six are also delightful collections of poems that appeal to young children (and their parents).

When I taught unit studies, I often looked for a great poem to go along with our current unit. We read “Paul Revere’s Ride” when learning about the American Revolution. When we did a study of birds, I had each child choose a poem about a bird to memorize and recite. “In Flanders Field” was posted during our study of World War I. The anthology Favorite Poems Old and New is a great resource for finding poems about different subjects—seasons, holidays, famous people, nature, fantasy, etc.  (You can read about some other resources ~here~.)

From time to time, we have also focused on a particular poet. For example, we once read a delightful children’s biography about Emily Dickinson, The Mouse of Amherst, which was told from the perspective of a mouse who lived in her room. That inspired us to read quite a few of Dickinson’s poems. We have also spent time with Robert Frost, A. A. Milne, Walt Whitman, and Shakespeare.  At other times, we have read a "poem of the week."

There are a few things that I’ve discovered through the years that have aided us in our learning and appreciation of poetry.

~  One (don’t laugh!), I keep a poem posted on an antique wooden washboard that I have hanging in my bathroom. (I said not to laugh—it is a place that people visit every day!) My children have memorized lots of poetry over the years by reading the displayed poem day after day. For these particular poems, memory is not required. I have just chosen a poem that has living ideas with which I want my family to become familiar. But memory sometimes follows as they become enamored with a particular poem. I also include hymns in this display, as they are indeed poems and contain rich expressions of faith and doctrine.

~  Two, I take advantage of opportunities for my children to memorize and recite poems, whether it be a poetry recitation sponsored by our local homeschool organization, a recitation night planned for our co-op, or an impromptu recitation at a family party.  (You could do a similar thing within your own family, reciting for grandparents or other extended family or close friends.)

~  Finally, we include poetry in our Morning Time. Each day, we take turns reciting the poems that we’re working on (for co-op or for our own enrichment). We may recite these same poems for several months...and believe me, if you recite a poem three or four days each week, it becomes a part of you! After all have recited, I read aloud a poem by a particular poet on whom we've chosen to focus for a time.  We usually read the same poem for three consecutive days, and then begin reading another by the same poet.  By reading many works of the same poet, we become familiar with his style, and discover the scope of his writing. 


This may sound as if we spend a great deal of time in our homeschool studying poetry, but that is not the case. One of my basic homeschooling philosophies is “slow and steady over time”...and that certainly is the case with our “study” of poetry. 

A little bit here, and a little bit there, and your students will learn to feel at home in the rich world of poetry!

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

April is National Poetry Month. This celebration was first introduced in 1996 by the Academy of American Poets as a way to increase awareness and appreciation of poetry in the United States.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Sunday Snapshot


Presenting history reports to the family...


Gavin and Maddie tell about Titanic.
 

Bekah reports on Agatha Christie.


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Randomness: Coffee


A mug just like Daddy's!
For over forty years, my dad has sipped his one cup of morning coffee out of the same mug.  When I was a little girl, I thought the aroma of his coffee was totally tantalizing.  Occasionally,  I would lift his empty mug to my lips and drink the tiny drop that lingered in the bottom.  And I was always disappointed.  How can something that smells so good taste so bad?, I'd think.

I learned to drink coffee for myself at my first full-time job.  One winter day, the building was very cold and I needed something to warm my bones.  So I shivered over to the coffee urn, poured some into a styrofoam cup, and loaded it with cream and sugar.  It was the beginning of my love affair with coffee. 

Today, I begin my day with a cup or two of coffee (no sugar, smidge of cream), and we have after-dinner coffee every night. 

Random coffee facts:
  1. Coffee must be hot.  Enough said.
  2. There is a correct coffee color. 
    Granted, that color is a personal thing.  At our house, there is milky white (Bekah), slightly darker (Ron), medium (Kati), and very dark brown (me).   I have not yet learned to drink my coffee black (those three drops of cream are important!), but I am quite picky discriminating about the perfect color...to the extent that Ron has been known to say, "You fix your coffee; I just don't have the mental fortitude tonight."  (Silly boy.)
  3. Dessert is best when accompanied by a strong cup of coffee. 
  4. Coffee is currently thought to have certain health benefits...as reported in articles like this one by such an auspicious sounding source as Science Daily.  I choose to believe this study. 
To complete this totally random post, I will share some of my personal coffee faves.  (Could I call these winners "The JOE-y's"?)

Favorite Iced Coffee:  Dunkin Donut (mocha-flavored with cream and sugar)

Favorite Blended Coffee Drink:
  Starbucks Mocha Frappuccino

Favorite Hot Specialty Drink:
  Panera's Cafe Mocha

Most Frequently Purchased Coffee Drink:
  McDonald's Iced Mocha

(Does anyone see a pattern here?  Do all of my favorites really include the word mocha?!)

Favorite Every Morning and Every Night At Home Coffee:  Great Value 100% Colombian Ground Coffee 
I know.  I wouldn't have believed it myself.  But my frugal hubby brought it home to try because the price was right, and we've been drinking it ever since.  We have even had several guests convert to Great Value Colombian after trying it here.  I'm just saying. 

Favorite Instant Coffee:
  Okay...before I announce the JOE-y for this category, I must say that it was a non-category until this week.  I thought that instant coffee should be reserved for use in recipes such as cappuccino muffins or chocolate custards.  Until we sampled the winner...  Starbucks Via.  Sooooo good.


Do you have feelings about coffee?  What are your Joe-y winners?

Friday, April 1, 2011

Another "If"


I am very slowly reading through If by Amy Carmichael.  Slowly is the key, for there is much substance, much to ponder, much to convict, much to consider.  It is all about "Calvary Love" and what that love looks like and what it does not look like. 
if the praise of man elates me and his blame depresses me;
if I cannot rest under misunderstanding without defending myself;
if I love to be loved more than to love, to be served more than to serve,
then I know nothing of Calvary love.

(Other ifs...  here and here.)
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