February 27, 2010

Elizabeth's poetry recitation--"The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere"

Elizabeth worked hard for two weeks on memorizing "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere", which has close to a hundred lines to it. I videoed her right before oral surgery, in case she was bruised and swollen. The oral surgery went very well, by the way. On another side note, the earrings that she is wearing, she made herself mostly in art class. They are sculpey crosses in two different shades of blue. We bought some earring backs at Michael's and, thanks to the miracle of the hot glue gun, she had herself a new pair of earrings. If you want a really good illustrated version of the poem, check out, a version illustrated by Christopher Bing. It has a map of the routes taken by Paul Revere and other riders as well as the route taken by the British army. Instead of putting the whole poem on the page, like I did with the others, I am including a link to the poem. http://www.nationalcenter.org/PaulRevere

February 25, 2010

Tribute Series Finale--Happy Troll Valentine's Day

This will be my last in the tribute series for a while. There are other people who no doubt deserve a tribute, like all my sister-in-laws and brother-in-laws, who have had to put up with me for the last 10+ years. However, I feel the need to take another break for a while and my intention was to end this with one of the most important people in my life.

Thirteen years ago today, Eric and I sat at Tang’s Chinese Restaurant in Grayslake, Illinois. We had returned the previous Sunday from a four-day cross country ski trip and it was the night for the monthly meeting of the Bicycle Club of Lake County. At the time, I thought we met there because he actually liked the restaurant, but I think it was because it was on the way to the meeting for both of us. It is not a restaurant that I would actually recommend for their food, unless you want to feel the residual magic from our encounter there. I have no idea what we discussed except for one thing: We talked about the cross country trip and that a spark seemed to have been struck between the two of us. And he told me that he wanted to “pursue a relationship” with me. That night, after the bicycle club meeting, we exchanged a first kiss, or two, or possibly more. Yowza! On March 3, 1998, which was 372 days after we first decided to pursue a relationship, he proposed to me in front of the Kilauea Light House on the island of Kuai, Hawaii. He didn’t have a ring, but he did quote the following scripture: “Many women do noble things, but you surpass them all. Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” (Proverbs 31:29,30) We were married on August 29, 1998, six months later.

Eric is an answer to a specific prayer that I prayed to God roughly two weeks before that fateful cross country ski trip. I told God that I would be willing to exchange my extensive, highly detailed list of things I wanted in a husband if He would only provide me a godly man. Eric is a godly man, which does not mean that he is perfect. However, he will apologize to me for his part in an argument or if he has said or done something wrong. He is also very quick to forgive me, even after some of my ugliest moments, which he has witnessed many times. He forgives little things and big things and forgets them. He encourages me to keep trying when I fail, and to try new things. He never has put me down and doesn’t allow me to put myself down. He listens as well as any man I know. He is the only one outside of my family that has demonstrated unconditional love. He is also a hopeless goofball. His most recent example of humor is faking a heart attack every time we pass by a restaurant called “Organ Stop Pizza”. If you don’t get the humor, it is probably a good thing. His humor does tend toward word play and puns, but he will totally degrade himself with pseudo-melodrama in order to get me and the kids laughing. He keeps me from being too serious and defuses serious situations with humor. He is a gift from God and living proof that God loves me and not only wants what is best for me but knows what is best for me.

February 20, 2010

Elizabeth's work

This semester, I have added a new "school lesson" relating to the building the life skill of good relationships. Some of you might say that that is like the blind leading the blind, but isn't parenting a lot like that anyway? At a one day, small workshop in Wheaton, Illinois several years ago, the keynote speaker, Dr. Rob Reinow, who is pastor of Wheaton Bible Church, made a comment that has really influenced my approach to homeschooling: "Our most important job is to disciple our kids because no one ever got divorced because they failed in math." Another inspiration came from Respectful Kids, which talked about the importance of coaching good behavior at times other than in the midst of bad behavior and of course, modeling good behavior, which is SO-O-O-O difficult under stress. Since the Bible has a lot of great things to say about relationships, we are using it as a primary source. We started out talking about what our primary jobs as human beings are. According to Matthew 22: 37-40, Jesus said that it is" 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: `Love your neighbor as yourself.' All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments."

But love is a very general term, with a lot of different connotations, so now we are focusing our time on 1 Corinthians 13, also known as "The Love Chapter". We spent two weeks on "Love is Patient", because we all need more patience. We watched "Abe and the Amazing Promise", which had a lot of fun with confusing the word "patients" with "patience". We looked up the definition of patience and we practiced it. We are still practicing it, but have moved on to "Love is kind", which by the way, is still part of 1 Corinthians 13:4. This week, I had the kids start making posters to put around the family room to help us remind us to love each other. Below is Elizabeth's poster of "Patience," which, in my mind, demonstrated a lot of patience. But she also managed to include the joke about patients, too. She used templates to form the letters and the drawings and spent a lot of time coloring in the letters. My kids constantly amaze me.

February 18, 2010

Jessi's recitation: "The New Colossus"

I have received some feedback that the audio on Kyle's recitation was pretty low. He had a microphone near his mouth. He tends to speak quietly when he is a little nervous. However, when he is upset or playing, he gets REALLY loud. There is no moderation with him. I might try and re-record Kyle, asking him to speak up a bit. As an additional side-note, Kyle has chosen a second poem to memorize which is four lines long and is a mouse lullaby. He is already finished with that one.

For Jessi, I chose "The New Colossus" because it was about the same length as Kyle's poem and really highlights that most of the people who emigrated to America, including the Pilgrims and Jamestown settlers, were considered "losers" (in our vernacular) by their contemporaries. What makes this poem difficult to memorize is that it doesn't have as obvious a rhythm as "Concord Hymn" and some of the sentences end in the middle of a line. (BTW, if you listen carefully, you will hear the boys yelling in the background and me telling them to be quiet. They were actually upstairs and I spoke to them from the bottom of the stairs. I wish I had one of those "red lights" to make my home a silent zone.) I will include the words to "The New Colussus" with the video. Jessi has chosen for her new poem to memorize, all on her own, the poem "Barbara Frietchie" by John Greenleaf Whittier. That one is much longer

The New Colossus by Emma Lazarus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame,
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

February 16, 2010

Kyle reciting "Concord Hymn"

As I mentioned in my homeschool update blog, I am having the three oldest kids memorize a poem about America and especially about the American Colonies. Kyle and Jessi have finished their poems. I had Kyle memorize "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson because it was about the first battle between the American Colonists and the British soldiers who were marching to Lexington to confiscate not only a store of guns and gunpowder to hamstring the Colonists revolutionary tendencies, but also John Hancock and Samuel Adams to silence them. Unfortunately for the soldiers, Paul Revere and his buddies had already alerted everyone and instead of taking the Colonists by surprise, they were surprised to see men at arms ready to defend themselves and John and Sam long gone. Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote this hymn which was sung at a dedication of a monument on April 19, 1836. I chose it because of the most famous phrase "And fired a shot heard round the world." The poem in its entirety is shown below. My favorite part is the last stanza.

Concord Hymn
By the rude bridge that arched the flood
Their flag to April's breeze unfurled
Here once the emattled farmers stood
And fired the shot heard round the world

The foe long since in silence slept
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps

On this green bank, by this soft stream
We set today a votive stone
That memory may their deed redeem
When, like our sires, our sons are gone

Spirit, that made these heroes dare
To die and leave their children free
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
This shaft we raise to them and thee.

by Ralph Waldo Emerson

February 14, 2010

Visualizing songs

There is a song playing on KLove in Phoenix for a while now, performed by Matt Maher, written by him and David Jason Ingram that I really love. Here are the words:

I woke up in darkness surrounded by silence
Oh where have I gone?
I woke to reality losing its grip on me
Oh where, where have I gone?

'Cause I can see the light before I see the sunrise

Chorus: You called and You shouted
Broke through my deafness
Now I'm breathing in, breathing out
I'm alive again
You shattered my darkness
Washed away my blindness
Now I'm breathing in, breathing out
I'm alive again

Late have I loved you
You waited for me
I searched for you.
What took me so long?

I was looking outside
As if love would ever want to hide.
I'm finding I was wrong

'Cause I can feel the wind before it hits my skin.


Bridge: 'Cause I want you yes I want you, I need you
And I'll do whatever I have to just to get through
'Cause I love you, yes I love you!


When I first heard the chorus, I suddenly pictured Lazarus lying in the tomb, hearing Jesus' voice and taking his first breath since being raised from death. Would it be a deep, gasping breath, like the kind that Wesley and Buttercup took when they emerged from the lightning sand or the kind of quick breath you take when you suddenly realize that you have been holding your breath for too long. Or would it be more like the first deep breath you take in the morning while you are stretching after having a really good night of sleep with vivid, peaceful dreams? Would he have had fleeting visions of life after death still hovering in his mind as he awoke. Would he be experiencing the stifling, smelly grave or feeling the breeze and the sweet scent from the Holy Spirit breathing life back into him? Would he be wondering "Where am I and why can't I move very easily? Regardless of his first impressions, I am pretty sure that he was never the same man before he died and was buried. How could he be? How could anyone let him forget that he was once dead and that his friend, Jesus, the Messiah, brought him back to life?

Then I wonder if he was present during Jesus' crucifixion, if he actually witnessed his friend dying. It was a high, holy festival, a time when most Jews would have traveled to Jerusalem. However, according to John 12:10, the Jewish leaders were out to kill Lazarus because so many people believed in Jesus because of his resurrection. So maybe he decided to stay home. However, if he was there, how much he must have suffered seeing the One who healed him from death dying on the cross or dead in the grave. Would he have had any clue that his resurrection would be a foreshadowing of the glorious resurrection of the Messiah, the Redeemer? Or would he have been one of the most hopeless of Jesus' followers? And then, of course, there would have been the inexpressible joy and awe at seeing his friend, his Lord and Savior alive again.

Every Christian, the moment they put their faith in Jesus Christ as the only way they can be made right with God has a Lazarus moment. They see the light, they feel the touch of the Holy Spirit breathing new life into their sin-deadened body. It is what I experienced when I first prayed "The Sinner's Prayer" when I was 12 years old. I experienced it again when I returned to God after a time of turning my back on Him because I was mistaking His people for my only counselors rather than Him as my Wonderful Counselor. The second time was even more overwhelming than the first because I felt as if I had betrayed God and yet, out of the bounty of His great love, he welcomed me back with open arms as the prodigal daughter.

Interesting how a two minute song can bring all that up. By the way, I looked up the name "Lazarus" to see what it meant. It means "my God has helped." Praise God!

February 5, 2010

Bridgetender School Update

It has been a while since I gave an update on what our school has been doing, so I thought I write something brief.

History: We are studying American History. We started with the discovery and exploration of the Americas up and have now started reading about the beginnings of the American Revolutionary War, which, as was pointed out in "Drive Through History", was originally considered a civil war. In between, we learned how the British, French and Spanish extended their European Wars to the colonies and how the British ended up "owning" most of the 13 colonies. Part of the discussion was how the British colonists changed the landscape from woodland to farmland, destroying the Native American's hunting ground. We also discussed how the Native American's fought back, usually in sneak attacks that usually, thought not always successful. The French were not necessarily farmers in the lower colonies, choosing to hunt and trade with the Natives as friends, though they tried to start colonies up and down the Mississippi. I have really learned a lot more about our country's development, which I really enjoy. Elizabeth has mentioned that she really enjoys history.

Science. We are studying flying animals. We started with birds and bats and are now studying flying insects. We are trying to hatch butterflies from catepillars, using a kit, but have not been incredibly successful. Of five catepillars, only one chrysallis survives and it, too, might have a dead pupa. If this doesn't work, we will order some more catepillars and try again. The principal refuses to have an ant farm, which sounds a whole lot easier at this point, although it does seem counter-intuitive to encourage ants to develop in the house when we usually work hard to keep them out.

Language Arts: We have been studying poetry after reading two novels before Christmas and discussing the elements of a good story. The kids have written some of their own poetry and have read from _Runny Babbit_ for fun, _The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere_, some Native Amerian poetry and haikus. We will be finishing it up by having the kids memories two poems each, one of my choosing and one of theirs. My choosen poems are the following: Kyle is memorizing "Concord Hymn" by Ralph Waldo Emerson, Jessi is memorizing "The New Colossus" by Emma Lazarus and Elizabeth is memorizing "The Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Once they are done working on those poems, I will let them choose their own with very little requirements. I am trying to memorize them too. The kids are progressing nicely with spelling and grammer. They have written some haiku's and some specialized poetry, as well as miscellaneous writing assignments. Jessica just finished reading The Wind in the Willows and Elizabeth is reading Robinson Crusoe, which I am also reading for fun to the kids.

Math: Elizabeth is going through fractions this year and is now learning about Greatest Common Factors and how they can be used to reduce or simplify fractions. Kyle is over halfway through his book of addition facts. Jessi is working on her single-digit multiplication facts, but soon will be learning how to multiply with more than one digit.

We listen to classical music and are looking at the Roccocco period of art because that is the art of the 18th century. We will also be looking at folk art and engravings, because that was pretty popular at the time. The kids are also baking.

Elizabeth is progressing in her Latina Cristiana latin studies and all three are working on Spanish through bilingual books and a Spanish matching game and storytelling game.

Elizabeth and Kyle want to learn how to whittle. The principal tells them that they need to read up on knife safety first.

Their homeschool group, Veritas, organized a field trip to an turn of the century house in downtown Phoenix, where they learned about how people slept in Phoenix in summer before air-conditioning was invented. The answer is that they moved their mattress out on the porch. There was no answer to how they survived in their petticoats and long sleeves. In the next two months, they will be visiting the "Hall of Flame" and the Museum of Mining.