". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, August 24, 2015

For the Insult File

This one could come in handy.

"You are fascinated with yourself. You will say anything that occurs to you, but what I can't understand are the things that occur to you. I should like to take your head apart, put a fact in it, and watch it go its way through the runnels of your brain until it comes out of your mouth."

From Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Image: US cover of Go Set a Watchman. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Friday, August 21, 2015

It's That Time of Year

What time? Back to school time! Here's our plan for sixth grade.

Bible study - Confirmation class at church and Treasury of Daily Prayer at home.

Language Arts - Language Lessons for the Secondary Child, Volume 1 (a Charlotte Mason approach from Sandi Queen)

Handwriting (yes, we still do it in our school) - 44 U. S. Presidents, Zaner-Bloser - Learning about the presidents while continuing to develop cursive writing. We probably won't get all the way to the end, and that's okay. :-)

History - Story of the World, Book 4 (Modern Age)

Vocabulary/Foreign Language - Roots of English, Memoria Press - Latin and Greek roots

Math - Teaching Textbooks 6

Science - I have not purchased a science curriculum this year and don't plan to. Instead we are going to draw on books already on the shelf, including some science biographies and encyclopedias and the creation-based It Couldn't Just Happen. The one new book I did order is this fun looking one about the periodic table. 

Art - I am not artistic so as a homeschool parent have always struggled with this. When my adult children were younger we addressed the need with outside classes. That has not really happened with Evan. But I do want him to have some hands-on art, so rather than try to find (and pay for) a class that will work with our schedule, I am going to teach him myself this year (don't laugh). Again, we have plenty of resources already on the shelf, including Let's Meet Famous Artists, 20 Art Lessons, The Big Yellow Drawing Book, Drawing with Children, and several books in the 1-2-3 Draw seriesI'll probably pull some lessons from all of them. Hey, I said not to laugh.

Applied music - Seismic change here this year. Evan will transition from piano lessons with Mom to piano lessons with Dad. Gulp. Things are getting serious! The fact of the matter is that Mom is not as demanding as Dad (surprise, surprise). Mom does make a pretty good practice coach, though, and that will continue. Organ lessons, which began with Dad this year, will also continue. And of course, choir. Always choir.

Music listening - Another neglected area (sigh). We are going to do some listening to both folk music (I Hear America Singing and Reader's Digest Children's Songbook) and classical music (Meet the Great Composers and Lives of the Musicians). I think I will also draw on the excellent list my friend Susan developed not too long ago.

Physical education - Swimming class once per week at the local swim school, and youth bowling league on Saturday mornings at the local bowling alley. Since I work most Saturday mornings, Dad will be overseeing the latter, starting tomorrow. Evan can't wait.

Coding - Evan loves video games. I mean, he really loves video games. He has also shown some interest in coding and game design. Last year we tried Khan Academy's programming course but ran into some frustrations that led to waning interest. But I would like to encourage what seems to be Evan's natural aptitude in this area. So we are going to try a CD-based course called KidCoder that was developed by some fellow homeschoolers. Here's a review from another blogger.

Last but not least, of course, will be assorted readalouds throughout the year. We'll figure those out as we go, but one will definitely be a biography of Martin Luther during the month of October. :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mid-August Report

A cool front blew in last night and brought rain with it. We won't make it out of the 60's today. How fitting, considering that I just dropped off the second of my two college students at school yesterday. Fall is coming. In a week or two our home school will kick off its last round of junior high as Evan starts sixth grade. Church activities, choir practices, and a busier work schedule will begin in earnest. Another summer, and the memories it generated, will be boxed up, tied with twine, and placed on the shelf next to all the rest. It was a good one.

Speaking of college kids, here's number two. This is how I left her yesterday, boxes still sealed, bed unmade. She is quite capable of fixing her room up the way she wants it, and I wanted to get back home at a reasonable hour.

Here she is with her new roommate, who is also a writer.

I think it's going to be a great year. She is taking more classes in the humanities and fewer in the sciences. Math is done. Hurray!

Oh, and before she left she wrote this. She is a smart one, that girl.

In other news, Phillip is preparing for another trip to Africa in November. He'll get a day-long layover in Paris, poor dear. This, his fourth trip, will be to the Lutheran seminary CLET (Centre Luthérien d’Études Théologiques), in Dapaong, Togo. 

I have a few more articles in the queue over at The Federalist. They're on homeschooling and education. Imagine that. :-)

Our tomatoes are almost ready.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


A few days ago I wrote this. It is about the blessings that come as we go from one season of life to another. I meant every word. 

But sometimes . . . sometimes . . .

I wish I could go back and do it all again.

Me and my son in his new apartment

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Raisin' 'em Right

At dinner tonight someone said the word "margarine." The following exchange ensued.

Evan (11 years old): "What's margarine?"

Me: "Fake butter."

Evan: "Oh, gro-o-o-ss!"

I guess we did pretty well, protecting him from this knowledge for almost 12 years. :-)

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

A Troubling Viewpoint

There is a sentiment that I often see expressed these days among some of my fellow Lutherans. It is that those who have fallen into very serious, life-shattering sin have a better understanding of sin, and therefore grace, than those who just plug along contending with a particular temptation without acting it out. An extension of this mindset is the idea that spiritual leaders who have committed one of these serious sins and have in the ensuing fallout "hit bottom" are better equipped to teach and preach about sin, repentance, grace, and forgiveness. (Side note: by serious, I mean serious in repercussions, not serious in substance, since before God all sin is the same in the effect of its separating us from Him. Sometimes the word that is used, especially in reference to ministers, is scandalous, representing the effect of the sin on the faith of others. See 1 Timothy 3.)

I think this is a dangerous way of thinking. In the first place, it minimizes the struggle of those who contend with inner sin without acting on it in an outer manner. Sin is sin, whether it's hidden or visible. We can sin in thought as well as in deed. The person who does the former, struggling day in and day out with temptation and sinful thoughts, can be just as well acquainted with the need for repentance and forgiveness as one who outwardly sins. So I think it is misguided to generalize about who better understands sin based on what we see on the outside.

Second, this way of thinking risks an odd sort of celebrating of one who has publicly sinned and publicly repented. Yes, we need to love the sinner. Yes, we need to embrace and care for one who has fallen, and repented, and is in desperate need of God's love and grace. Very often that love and grace are provided through the words and deeds of the Christian community who are called to put it into action. But I think we need to guard against turning such people, especially ministers, into examples, and assigning them special standing. It is especially risky to do so when young people, who are typically turned off by supposed hypocrisy, are involved. Our example should not be the one who has sinned. Our example should be the One who was sinless.