Saturday, July 30, 2011

Saturday Evening Book Post

My crazy, camp-filled, very tiring week still had some room in it for reading.

At camp we read for "Mythological and Fairy Tale Heroes":

For "Historical Heroes" we read from: Heroes for My Son, and from other sources.

For Justice Seekers we read from Peaceful Heroes and Paths to Peace.

And for our final day we read the very sad Faithful Elephants (be ready with tissues, hugs, and processing conversation) and then Peace Begins With You.

Meanwhile, Hypatia finished Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (fun, a bit scary, a bit silly, and the longest book to keep her attention so far) this week, and then had a couple picture books for bedtime reading:

Mrs. Armitage: Queen of the Road by Quentin Blake was a fun little story of a crazy driver. Blake is the illustrator for the Roald Dahl books, so you might recognize the style of the pictures.

Running with the Horses is a long book for a picture book, about a young girl and her father who live in a riding school, and must get the horses to safety when war breaks out. Hypatia was rapt throughout the reading.

We listened to another 39 Clues book in the car this week: In Too Deep (#6). The books seem to be getting less and less historical and more fantastical, less treasure hunt and more mystery melodrama. I'm less enamored of them, but the kids still like them so we'll probably listen to the next one too.

We went to a community event today that had one of those bookmobiles with free books for kids, and Carbon picked out The Myth of Isis and Osiris and Hypatia picked out Vacation Under the Volcano.

I hope to have more time for personal reading next week. :)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Wiped Out


After two weeks in a row of teaching Chalice Camp at church, I am wiped out. It's such good work, but also hard work. The kids are awesome, the activities that I prepped for them were mostly all great and fun, but it takes a lot of energy from me.

I also lost my voice this week, and was left with just a whisper. That has been a huge extra challenge, making me feel helpless and frustrated. Trying to get the attention of 13 loud 3rd graders with no voice was incredibly difficult. It brought me up against a wall, which I'm sure I'll look back on as being a wonderful opportunity for spiritual growth, but in the present it just feels like it Sucks.

So I need to spend a day or more just not talking and resting and trying to get my voice back. And catching up on all the housework that didn't get done this week. :)

Thursday, July 28, 2011

A beautiful day for an obstacle course



Groups of campers designed a course, using props we carried down the street from the church to the park, and then they all ran through it. It was pretty fun!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Carbon's Project Runway

Carbon is a fan of the show Project Runway, and tonight he was inspired to do some draping on his sister with fabric that came back from church camp (where we made super hero capes for all the kids today). He also made a superhero cape for our dog.



One of the models was more enthusiastic than the other. :)

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The cooperative card tower challenge



Working together in a team, how high and big can you build a card tower? For some, this is an almost impossible challenge. But the point, of course, isn't to build a tower. The point is to try to work together. This was a fun activity today at church camp.

Monday, July 25, 2011

A much needed haircut

My little puppy is a breed that really needs to be groomed. I've never owned a high maintenance pup like this before, but I am in love with the results of a good grooming session.

He hardly ever sits still, so pictures were tricky, but here he is all hairy:


No eyes, and he doesn't like to be combed and the fur picks up all sorts of dirt as he runs about ...

And then here he is after his grooming appointment on Friday:



I like this so much better! I'm even more tolerant of his bad behavior (chewing up all sorts of odd little things, pooping where he's not supposed to, etc - he's still just a puppy). He's soft and he Has a Face!

Definitely worth the money to have that done on a regular basis. :)

Sunday, July 24, 2011



It was a lovely day yesterday, and we headed out to the cabin for a bit of renewal. Sitting by the water, or splashing about in it, is terribly fabulous on a sunny day. I love our tiny bit of salt water beach. Then my husband and father-in-law thought they would go for a swim at sunset, and they got REALLY refreshed. Seventy five degrees in the air does not translate into warm water!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Saturday morning book post

I've been teaching church camp for 4-7 year olds all this last week. It was a sweet and adorable camp, full of good stories - some from our Spirit Play collection and few from books.

Two books I read them:

Horton Hears a Who by Dr. Seuss. A classic, and I never get tired of using Dr. Seuss.

Moody Cow Meditates by Kerry Lee MacLean. All kids have really bad days - Moody Cow Days - and sometimes it's hard to let go of all that anger swirling around. In this book, Grandfather uses a fun meditation technique to help Moody Cow settle all his angry thoughts.

And books that we've turned in to story baskets included: Butterfly Boy, Wanda's Roses, and Grandad's Prayers of the Earth.

This week Hypatia picked out the audio book of Roald Dahl's The Witches, and wanted it for her bedtime listening. We usually do let her fall asleep to an audio CD in her bedroom. I was worried it would be too scary, and in fact the first night she did come out all freaked out and need it changed for something less scary - Little Bear, actually. But then she got really into it and the next night she stayed awake to listen to the whole thing. She didn't fall asleep until after midnight.

Carbon picked up a book and read it to himself this week, with hardly any help at all. That was awesome. He read Marvin K. Mooney, Will You Please Go Now. His reading is improving in leaps and bounds.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

A little summer dress



I stayed up way too late last night finishing up this dress, so that my sewing table could be folded up and put away before the housecleaners come tomorrow. Two things: (1) having a housecleaning schedule keeps the pressure on me to put the clutter away, and (2) moving soon (fingers crossed still) is putting the pressure on me to use the fabric stash or lose it.

Fabric: a quilt kit I bought when Hypatia was a baby. This was going to be an Olivia baby quilt. Since we are past the point of needing baby quilts around here, it was give it away or use it for a different purpose. I worried the stripe print would look weird in a dress, but this seems to have worked out OK.

Pattern: "Girls Jumper" from All Dolled Up: Sewing with Nancy.

Problems: It's a bit too wide in the chest, so I'm going to have to take it in a bit I think. It's too short to just wait for her to "grow into it".

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Duct Tape Books




Take normal printer paper. Cut it in half. Make little stacks of paper. Staple them right in the middle, so they fold into little booklets.

Give kids lots of fun duct tape. Let them cover the outside page however they like. If it gets well-covered, it will even be waterproof/resistant.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

super simple, super fun, magic wand project


dowels from the craft store
eye screws from the hardware store
an assortment of ribbons

An adult will probably need to screw the eye into the end of the dowel.


And then let the kids decorate them with the ribbons! Tying them to the eye is great, but the dowel can also be wrapped with ribbon and then taped if so desired.

We did this today at church camp, and it was a big hit.

Monday, July 18, 2011

A really long summer reading list


The religious education class at church this summer is doing Read to Feed, and this is our long list to keep track of all the books the kids read this summer. They are also filling out a raffle ticket for each book they read, and each Sunday we are drawing one winner who gets to choose a prize. We have a lot of voracious readers!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Saturday morning book post


This week has been dominated by Swan Lake Camp at the ballet school. The little ones at the camp learned four dances inspired by the ballet, and made little costume props to perform with on the last day in front of the parents. It was really quite wonderful, and I'm very impressed with the dance studio.

To enrich it at home we read The Barefoot Book of Ballet Stories, which does it's best to make the stories make sense and give them some narrative, despite the craziness of some of these story lines they had to work with. And also from the "Getting to Know the World's Greatest Composers" series we read Tchaikovsky. I was pleased with how well the biography kept the kids' attention, with fun illustrations and an engaging writing style. Some other media filled it all out, with a DVD of the American Ballet's performance and from the "Stories in Music" series, The Story of Swan Lake.

Other books we read this week:

A bunch of Goosebumps that Carbon bought at the church book sale

Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss (Carbon read it out loud)

George and Martha (Carbon read it out loud)

And I read Stages of Faith by James Fowler.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Is church unfriendly to the unmarried?

I've just read the book After the Baby Boomers, and the main take-away I got from the book is a feeling that the church isn't doing a good job ministering to young people who aren't part of "families". We put a lot of focus on Family Ministry, as being the alternative to ministering to mostly empty-nesters and the elderly. But what about all the people who don't fall into either category?

After the Baby Boomers looks at a LOT of statistics, and one that jumps out is that there is a huge gap in church attendance between people who are married and those who are unmarried. Being married makes you much more likely to attend church regularly. And yet, overall, the rate of marriage is decreasing among younger americans so that being married with children is no longer the norm but the exception for those in their twenties, and is becoming less the norm for those in their thirties.

Correlation is not the same as causation, or I could say "which comes first, the chicken or the egg?". Do people who go to church because they just have some sort of "church personality" also get married younger for the same personality reason? Does church attendance mean that you value marriage more and are there-for less likely to choose an "alternative lifestyle" (calling the norm "alternative" is silly, but in this case it's alternative to the traditional)? Or is church culture unwelcoming to singles?

Even if it's a combination of all of those reasons, the only one churches can really DO anything about is the last. How can we better welcome single young people and what ministry do they need in this stage of their lives?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ancient Egypt is All Wrapped Up


I declare we are done studying Ancient Egypt for our first homeschool unit study. The kids have loved this unit, we've read a whole stack of books from the library, watched five documentary movies, done three little toy kits with pyramids to chisel apart or mummies to disembowel and embalm, took a fun field trip to a museum, and Carbon got to mummify an apple at camp and make a cartouche in clay with his name in heiroglyphics. We could maybe keep going, but it also feels like it's Enough.

I didn't have the kids make an end product - a notebook or report or poster - and I intend for unit studies in the future to end with a summarizing project. But we'll ease into that practice with our next unit study. (The kids just had their meeting to choose another topic and they agreed on "Asia". That's going to be a big one!)

Tuesday, July 12, 2011



It's great having flexible job hours during the week, but there is something really nice about having a real weekend. Time when the whole family is off work at the same time and can do things together. Monday is my sabbath day, but the rest of my family isn't off on Mondays.

This last weekend, when I took one of my very few allowed absences from church on a Sunday and had a real weekend with the family, was a nice special treat. Appreciate your weekends!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

belated Saturday morning book post


I'm just home from camping for the weekend, so here is a belated post about our reading this week.

I am reading a work of fiction, Bloody Jack, which tells the story of a girl who disguises herself as a boy and eventually ends up as a pirate. It's well written and interesting, but I'm not engrossed yet, so it's slow going.

Strangely, the book I have been finding engrossing - so much so that it was a real page turner while lounging by the lake this weekend - is After the Baby Boomers: How Twenty- and Thirty-Somethings are Shaping the Future of American Religion. I say "strangely" because this is a dense book full of survey results, bar graphs, and lots of talk of correlations and their possible causes. But I have a real stake in this stuff, and even though the studies the book discusses are about 10 years old now I still found much of value here.

And I'm thrilled that I just got my first two free e-books from the library on my iPhone. I've currently got The Case for God and The Art of Non-Conformity on the phone to read.


The kids have been busy with more summer camps, so there's been a bit less reading out loud around here, but it's been cute to see Carbon start to help Hypatia read little easy phonics readers, like "Quack Shack".

We finished reading the second Warriors book, Fire and Ice, and we can't wait to get the next one. The adventures of those clan cats sure are fun.

In the meantime, Carbon is having fun with some of the Choose Your Own Adventures books that he bought at the church book sale a few months back.

The library got us the last Percy Jackson book on CD just in time for our long drive to the lake this weekend, so we finished The Battle of the Labyrinth and went straight into The Last Olympian. This book series has been lots of fun, and has really enriched the kids knowledge of Greek myth. I'm not a huge fan of the love triangle in these last two books, but I guess I forgive them - the urge to make characters fall in love with each other as a series goes on seems to be irresistible. And young teenage love is so awkward!

Friday, July 8, 2011

theology and pedagogy

I've just finished reading Models of Religious Education: Theory and Practice in Historical and Contemporary Perspective, and it occurs to me that pedagogy really always arises out of theology. If you look at the reasoning and theory under the "techniques" of pedagogy you find assumptions about:

  • The fundamental nature of humans
  • The purpose of life
  • The ultimate goal of personal development
  • The desired society
  • The right balance between the needs of the individual and those of the community
  • Right relations between persons, especially older persons to younger persons, authority figures to those under their authority
To me, all of these are theological questions, because how I understand the ultimate truth, or don't understand it, directly leads to all these other understandings.

This was addressed in graduate school as "philosophy", and I'm fine with that word also. But I wish that grad school hadn't left out all these religious figures who were also educational theorists and practitioners. In grad school we studied Socrates, Rousseau, Locke, then Dewey, Piaget, and Vygotsky. We also had to study Freud and Erikson. But what about the many centuries when education was primarily conducted by the church? What about Augustine, Luther, Calvin?

If teaching is a theologically rooted act, and I believe it is, then it would be behoove all teachers to examine it honestly from that perspective.

p.s. here is why I don't care whether you call it philosophy or theology:

Philosophy is the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language. [1][2] It is distinguished from other ways of addressing such problems by its critical, generally systematic approach and its reliance on rational argument.[3] The word "philosophy" comes from the Greek φιλοσοφία (philosophia), which literally means "love of wisdom".[4][5][6]

Theology is the systematic and rational study of religion and its influences and of the nature of religious truths, or the learned profession acquired by completing specialized training in religious studies, usually at a university or school of divinity or seminary. [1] Without further qualification, the term is generally understood to refer, specifically, to Christian theology.

I don't much see the difference, but of course that is influenced by the nature of my theology. :) Everything is is influenced by that!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

trying to keep the room clean


Sometimes the line between a more democratic and an autocratic home environment gets fuzzy for me. In one of the many parenting books I've read - I think it was Screamfree Parenting - the author wrote that he thinks kids should be able to keep their room however they want. Afterall, they have very little control in their lives, and to say it's "their" room and then dictate how it should be decorated or kept clean is denying them real control over their personal environment.

Yes. I buy that - right up to a point. And we reached that point this last weekend. The kids were getting picked up for a night away with grandma, and they were going to the beach, and we could not find their sandals. Anywhere. And Carbon's room was so messy that I had no idea if there might be a sandal somewhere in that pile. We ended up sending them off with other shoes, and after they left I poked around a bit in his room.

Oh my, it was disgusting. If I can find dead bugs and rotten old food in a room, it has gone beyond the point where I can allow that to be "personal autonomy". So I went in there with some big tubs and a snow shovel and broom and I cleaned it out. Trash was thrown away, but anything else went into storage in the garage.

When Carbon came home from his weekend away, he was upset - but also excited by how open his room was and how much easier it was to play and live in there. I showed him where all his stuff was, and we took pictures of all angles of the room in their clean state.

Now he's in the process of gradually earning his stuff back, by keeping the room clean. Every night at bedtime we'll do an "inspection" using those clean pictures, and when the room passes inspection he gets to go in the garage and choose two things to bring back into the room. I figure that whatever is left at the end is his least favorite stuff and we might be able to get rid of that. Even if we don't get rid of anything, it will all have been gradually re-incorporated into the clean room and have found a proper storage place.

And hopefully he'll keep the darn place clean in the future!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Field Trip Day: All Wrapped Up

The city up the road from us has a lovely "museum district" with two art museums and a history museum all clustered together, right across the street from a regional campus of the University. It has easy parking, easy access, cool old brick buildings, and places to eat near-by. And by going up on a sunny beautiful summer day, we had the place almost to ourselves. With a special exhibit about mummies, I knew we had to find the time for this.



The kids are getting older, and I enjoy them in museums like this a lot more now. They each hopped onto interactive computer stations and explored CT scans of mummies. They were delighted whenever they recognized something from our reading about ancient Egypt. And they had the patience to have the little signs read to them.

And then I used my iphone to search for restaurants within walking distance that had a gluten-free menu, and we walked to The Old Spaghetti Factory and enjoyed gluten free spaghetti while sitting in a historic trolley car. A very nice day in the life of homeschooling.


Monday, July 4, 2011

Quote for Independence Day

Inherited liberty is not liberty but tradition. Each generation must win for itself the right to emancipate itself from its own tyrannies, which are ever unprecedented and peculiar. Therefore those who have been reared in freedom, bear a tremendous responsibility to the world to win an ever larger and more important freedom
Clarence Russell Skinner, The Social Implications of Universalism (1915): 12-13. (Universalist, minister, educator, reformer)