Read Alouds – May 2007

May 31, 2007 Categories: Books , Homeschooling , Kid Stuff | 1 Comment  

Egermeier’s Bible Story Book: A Complete Narration from Genesis to Revelation for Young and Old by Elsie E. Egermeier
Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein
The Dragon’s Eye: The Dragonology Chronicles, Volume 1 by Dugald A. Steer
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein

Jonathan’s Reading – May 2007

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Dolphins at Daybreak by Mary Pope Osborne
Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat by Cynthia Rylant
Henry and Mudge in Puddle Trouble by Cynthia Rylant
Ghost Town at Sundown by Mary Pope Osborne
Lions at Lunchtime by Mary Pope Osborne

Noah’s Reading – May 2007

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Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Natalie’s Reading – May 2007

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The Witch Tree Symbol by Carolyn Keene
Nancy’s Mysterious Letter by Carolyn Keene

I Will Survive!

May 30, 2007 Categories: Books , Kid Stuff , Movies | 7 Comments  

Actually, it hasn’t been that bad. Until tonight – when we took all six kids to the swimming pool. Andrew, the 3-year-old, gulped a whole bunch of water, and then proceeded to vomit all over the concrete at the pool’s edge. Thank goodness, most of it did not make it into the pool

Then, when we were all relaxing in the hot tub, I noticed that Andrew, who is supposed to be potty trained, had pooped in his swim diapers. I pulled him out of the hot tub and headed for the shower where… Well, let’s just say this evening exposed me to more bodily substances than I’ve had to deal with in a long, long time. We decided that Kevin will take the older kids swimming Friday and I will stay home with Andrew.

They’re all quiet and sleeping so peacefully right now. Deceptively innocent. I’d like to stay up really late and enjoy it, but then I’ll be too tired to keep up with them tomorrow!

I have had a little time to read – I’m halfway through The Memory Keeper’s Daughter by Kim Edwards – and it is as fantastic as everyone says it is.

Kevin and I also watched a great movie – started it on Monday night, finished it tonight: Flyboys, about Americans who went to France to fly against the Germans before the US had even entered WWI. Long, but good. Kevin thought it was a little slow – he could’ve done without the love story element – but I enjoyed it. And knowing that it was a true story, telling about real men who flew these planes, made it truly amazing. Orville and Wilbur Wright flew their first successful flight in 1903. 13 years later – only 13! – these young men were flying in combat against the Germans.

~Minor spoiler warning~

At the end, they showed on the screen what the men in this group went on to do after the war – the ones that survived, that is. One of the men was an African American. He had come to France to be a boxer – and because he had heard that the French treated blacks better than the Americans did – which was mostly true. He flew in this group – successfully – helping to defend France from the Germans. When the Americans entered the war, he joined up with his countrymen – and was not allowed to fly. To know that this hateful discrimination was not only allowed – but was government policy for the US at this time – makes me sick to my stomach.

Anyway, I don’t know a whole lot about WWI (Kevin is a huge WWII buff, so we know tons about that conflict!) – but this movie made me want to read up on it – the causes, the men who fought. Any book suggestions?

Well, I’m going to turn in before it gets any later. I have a bunch of links I’ve been saving, so hopefully I’ll find time to post on Friday.

Boys, boys, and more boys

May 29, 2007 Categories: Kid Stuff | 4 Comments  

Our house is like a little testosterone factory this week. My sister Marni and her husband Hans flew out to St. Louis this morning to check out a seminary he will be possibly attending in the fall. They dropped their two boys off at our house last night, and they’re staying until Sunday morning.

So the official count is: Noah, 8; Jonathan, 7; Josiah, 5; Peter, 5; and Andrew, 3. Oh, and Natalie – she’s ten, and feeling slighty outnumbered.

They’re having fun, though. Pray for my sanity. The hardest part is that we’re stuck at home since I don’t have a car that will hold them all. No quick runs for a latte fix!

Did ya miss me?

May 26, 2007 Categories: This and That | 4 Comments  

I’m back – thanks to Andrea and Ron, the wonderful people who run Homeschool Journal. They were faced with the immediate need to find a new server – right in the middle of moving to a new house. I’m amazed that they got things up and running as soon as they did! Of course, now I have all sorts of posts stored up in my head, so hopefully I’ll find some time to actually write them! Hope you’re all having a wonderful weekend.

from Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community

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”Ecological good sense will be opposed by all the most powerful economic entities of our time, because ecological good sense requires the reduction or replacement of those entities. If ecological good sense is to prevail, it can do so only through the work and the will of the people and of the local communities.

For this task, our currently prevailing assumptions about knowledge, information, education, money, and political will are inadequate. All the institutions with which I am familiar have adopted the organizational patterns and the quantitative measures of the industrial corporations. Both sides of the ecological debate, perhaps as a consequence, are alarmingly abstract.

But abstraction, of course, is what is wrong. The evil of the industrial economy (capitalist or communist) is the abstractness inherent in its procecdures – its inability to distinguish one place or person or creature from another. William Blake saw this two hundred years ago. Anyone can see it now in the application of almost any of our common industrial tools and weapons.

Abstraction is the enemy wherever it is found. The abstractions of sustainability can ruin the world just as surely as the abstractions of the industrial economies. Local life may be as much endangered by those who would “save the planet” as by those who would “conquer the world.” For “saving the planet” calls for abstract purposes and central powers that cannot know – and thus will destroy – the integrity of local nature and local community.”

~p. 22-23, from the essay “Out of Your Car, Off Your Horse”

”If we think of ourselves as merely biological creatures, whose story is determined by genetics or environment or history or economics or technology, then, however pleasant or painful the part we play, it cannot matter much. Its significance is that of mere self-concern. “It is a tale / Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, / Signifying nothing,” as Macbeth says when he has “supp’d full with horrors” and is “aweary of the sun.”

If we think of ourselves as lofty souls trapped temporarily in lowly bodies in a dispirited, desperate, unlovable world that we must despise for Heaven’s sake, then what have we done for this question of significance? If we divide reality into two parts, spiritual and material, and hold (as the Bible does not hold) that only the spiritual is good and desirable, then our relation to the material Creation becomes arbitrary, having only the quantitative or mercenary value that we have, in fact and for this reason, assigned to it. Thus, we become the judges and inevitably the destroyers of a world we did not make and that we are bidden to understand as a divine gift. It is impossible to see how good work might be accomplished by people who think that our life in this world either signifies nothing or has only a negative significance.

If, on the other hand, we believe that we are living souls, God’s dust and God’s breath, acting our parts among other creatures all made of the same dust and breath as ourselves; and if we understand that we are free, within the obvious limits of mortal human life, to do evil or good to ourselves and to the other creatures – then all our acts have a supreme significance. If it is true that we are living souls and morally free, then all of us are artists. All of us are makers, within mortal terms and limits, of our lives, of one another’s lives, of things we need and use.

This, Ananda Coomaraswany wrote, is “the normal view,” which “assumes…not that the artist is a special kind of man, but that every man who is not a mere idler or parasite is necessarily some special kind of artist.” But since even mere idlers and parasites may be said to work inescapably, by proxy or influence, it might be better to say that everybody is an artist – either good or bad, responsible or irresponsible. Any lfie, by working or not working, by working well or poorly, inescapably changes other lives and so changes the world. This is why our division of the “fine arts” from “craftsmanship,” and “craftsmanship” from “labor,” is so arbitrary, meaningless, and destructive. As Walter Shewring rightly said, both “the plowman and the potter have a cosmic function.” And bad art in any trade dishonors and damages Creation.

If we think of ourselves as living souls, immortal creatures, living in the mdist of a Creation that is mostly mysterious, and if we see that everything we make or do cannot help but have an everlasting significance for ourselves, for others, and for the world, then we see why some religious teachers have understood work as a form of prayer….

In denying the holiness of the body and of the so-called physical reality of the world – and in denying support to the good economy, the good work, by which alone the Creation can receive due honor – modern Christianity generally has cut itself off from both nature and culture. It has no serious or competent interest in biology or ecology. And it is equally uninterested in the arts by which humankind connects itself to nature. It manifests no awareness of the specifically Christian cultural lineages that connect us to our past. There is, for example, a splendid heritage of Christian poetry in England that most church members live and die without reading or hearing or hearing about. Most sermons are preached without any awareness at all that the making of sermons is an art that has at times been magnificent. Most modern churches look like they were built by robots without reference to the heritage of church architecture or respect for the place; they embody no awareness that work can be worship. Most religious music now attests to the general assumption that religion is no more than a vaguely pious (and vaguely romantic) emotion.

~p. 110-114, from the essay “Christianity and the Survival of Creation”

”The conventional public opposition of “liberal” and “conservative” is, here as elsewhere, perfectly useless. The “conservatives” promote the family as a sort of public icon, but they will not promote the economic integrity of the household or the community, which are the mainstays of family life. Under the sponsorship of “conservative” presidencies, the economy of the modern household, which once required the father to work away from home – a development that was bad enough – now requires the mother to work away from home, as well. And this development has the wholehearted endorsement of “liberals,” who see the mother thus forced to spend her days away from her home and children as “liberated” – though nobody has yet seen the fathers thus forced away as “liberated.” Some feminists are thus in the curious position of opposing the mistreatment of women and yet advocating their participation in an economy in which everything is mistreated.

The “convservatives” more or less attack homosexuality, abortion, and pornography, and the “liberals” more of less defend them. Neither party will oppose sexual promiscuity. The “liberals” will not oppose promiscuity because they do not wish to appear intolerant of “individual liberty.” The “conservatives” will not oppose promiscuity because sexual discipline would reduce the profits of corporations, which in their advertisements and entertainments encourage sexual self-indulgence as a way of selling merchandise.

The public discussion of sexual issues has thus degenerated into a poor attempt to equivocate between private lusts and public emergencies. Nowhere in public life (that is, in the public life that counts: the discussions of political and corporate leaders) is there an attempt to respond to community needs in the language of community interest.”

~p. 122-123, from the essay “Sex, Economy, Freedom, & Community”

”I know that for a century or so many artists and writers have felt it was their duty – a mark of their honesty and courage – to offend their audience. But if the artist has a duty to offend, does not the audience therefore have a duty to be offended? If the public has a duty to protect speech that is offensive to the community, does not the community have the duty to respond, to be offended, and so defend itself against the offense? A community, as a part of a public, has no right to silence publicly protected speech, but it certainly has a right not to listen and to refuse its patronage to speech that it finds offensive. It is remarkable, however, that many writers and artists appear to be unable to accept this obvious and necessary limitation on their public freedom; they seem to think that freedom entitles them not only to be offensive but also to be approved and subsidized by the people whom they have offended.

These people believe, moreover, that any community attempt to remove a book from a reading list in a public school is censorship and a violation of the freedom of speech. The situation here involves what may be a hopeless conflict of freedoms. A teacher in a public school ought to be free to exercise his or her freedom of speech in choosing what books to teach and in deciding what to say about them. (This, to my mind, would certainly include the right to teach that the Bible is the word of God and the right to teach that it is not.) But the families of a community surely must be allowed an equal freedom to determine the education of their children. How free are parents who have no choice but to turn their children over to the influence of whatever the public will prescribe or tolerate? They obviously are not free at all. The only solution is trust between a community and its teachers, who will therefore teach as members of the community – a trust that in a time of community disintegration is perhaps not possible. And so the public presses its invasion deeper and deeper into community life under the justification of a freedom far too simply understood. It is now altogether possible for a teacher who is forbidden to teach the Bible to teach some other book that is not morally acceptable to the community, perhaps in order to improve the community by shocking or offending it. It is therefore possible that the future of community life in this country may depend on private schools and home schooling.

Does my objection to the intention to offend and the idea of improvement by offense mean that I believe it is invariably wrong to offend or that I think community and public life do not need improving? Obviously not. I do not mean at all to slight the issues of honesty and of artistic integrity that are involved. But I would distinguish between the intention to offend and the willingness to risk offending. Honesty and artistic integrity do not require anyone to intend to give offense, though they certainly may cause offense. The intention to offend, it seems to me, identifies the would-be offender as a public person. I cannot imagine anyone who is a member of a community who would purposely or gladly or proudly offend it, though I know very well that honesty might require one to do so.”

~p. 156-157, from the essay “Sex, Economy, Freedom & Community”

That Distant Land

Categories: Books , Reviews | 1 Comment  

”Art was the rememberer. He knew what he knew and what had been known by a lot of dead kinfolks and neighbors. They lived on in his mind and spoke there, reminding him and us of things that needed to be remembered. Art had a compound mind, as a daisy has a compound flower, and his mind had something of the unwary comeliness of a daisy. Something that happened would remind him of something that he remembered, which would remind him of something that his grandfather remembered. It was not that he “lived in his mind.” He lived in the place, but the place was where the memories were, and he walked among them, tracing them out over the living ground. That was why we loved him.”

from the short story “Are You All Right?”, found in That Distant Land

Art Rowanberry is just one of the Port William characters I came to love while reading That Distant Land: The Collected Stories by Wendell Berry. Ptolemy Proudfoot, Wheeler Catlett, Elton Penn, Miss Minnie – the people in this book seem so real. I can only imagine that many of these stories are based on people for whom Wendell Berry is the rememberer. I am adding all of the Port William novels to my to-read list.

Berry loves the land – and he loves the people who love the land, work the land – are the land. I have been on a Berry binge lately – his poetry, his essays, and now his short stories. I plan to read everything of his that I can get my hands on.

5 out of 5 stars

Winners of the Book Giveaway

May 20, 2007 Categories: Books , Contests | 6 Comments  

Well, I had eight books to give away and nine people entered – so I pulled one more book of my bookshelves. All nine of you should expect a book sometime in the next couple of weeks!

I drew Woman‘s name first. Since she told me to pick one for her, she will be receiving In The Beginning…There Were No Diapers: Laughing and Learning In The First Years Of Fatherhood by Tim Bete. I laughed out loud many times while reading this, Woman – I know you’ll enjoy it!

Carol came next, and she get’s her first choice: Writers on Writing, Volume II: More Collected Essays from The New York Times. You’ll find lots of great authors to add to your “to-read” list in this one!

Next, I drew Lawanda‘s name – so she also gets her first choice: Connecting With Your Kids by Timothy Smith. Since you’re all about being a good mama to those girls of yours, this book is a perfect fit.

Next came Sanjay. Her first choice was Good Grief by Lolly Winston. This is a heartbreaking and funny book – have Kleenex handy!

Gem was next, and so I closed my eyes and grabbed one from the pile: At the Scent of Water by Linda Nichols. Ooo, another tearjerker, but in a good way. ;)

Laura‘s name came next. Her first two choices were gone, so she gets Breathing Lessons by Anne Tyler. I don’t remember a lot about this book, but I do know I enjoyed it. Some of Tyler’s titles have kind of merged in my mind. Hey, I just opened it for clues about the plot and found a reminder for a dentist appointment for Natalie in November of 2005. Wonder if we made it?

Debs name was drawn next, and she asked me to pick for her, so I’m sending My Own Two Feet: A Memoir by Beverly Cleary. Since Debs hails from “across the pond” – this will give her a taste of college life in America during the WW II years. (Now, Debs, I have no idea what it costs to mail a book to England, so if it costs an arm and a leg, I hope you’ll forgive me if I go back on my offer! :) )

I drew your name next, Karen, and all three of your choices were gone. So this is where running downstairs and picking something off the bookshelf came in. I chose The List by Robert Whitlow. It’s a great Christian thriller – it’ll keep you turning the pages.

Randi‘s name was the last one in the bowl, and she will receive her second choice, The Know-It-All: One Man’s Humble Quest to Become the Smartest Person in the World by A. J. Jacobs. It reads like a very entertaining blog, and you’ll pick up all sorts of useful (and useless) information.

Well, that’s it! Keep visiting – and maybe I’ll have another giveaway when the counter hits 100,000!