Friday, February 12, 2016

Focus and Align: Rule of Six

One of the assignments from the Read Aloud Revival's Master Class Focus and Align (available through membership) was to determine your overarching "this is what we do daily" Rule of Six.

I'm still mulling, but here's a first stab. It is based on my Words of the Year from 2015 and 2016 bookmarking the "Four Ws" from The Liberal Arts Tradition.  To some extent, "Worship" and *revel* go very much together and I'm only separating them for my own convenience.

When we Attend!, we behold - look, listen, utilize our senses; we accompany one another on life's pathways; and we focus on the world around us.

After we Attend! we Wonder. We ask questions, we are curious, we stand in awe. Today we were reading Madam How and Lady Why in school. The instructor sees a chalk cart and is curious which leads him to ask all sorts of questions: who first made wheels? who thought to use horses? how are horses trained to follow even a child's direction? why cart chalk anyway? We marvel, stand in awe at the things God and man have done.

Wonder leads us to a place of work. We have these questions so we seek answers. Also in our studies today we read from George Washington's World about Eli Whitney and his work to solve the problems of sorting seeds from cotton. He put effort into solving the problem. He tried. We must do.

As we work - seek, try, do - we discuss along the way. Is this proper? Can we apply these ideas in other arenas? A conversation with ourselves and others, with ideas and concepts, aids us in gaining wisdom. Lord willing, we become wise. (An aside, did you know that "wizen" does not mean to become wise, but to wither and dry up? I was so disappointed.)

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Becoming wise means we fear God and worship Him. We pray - we talk with him. We sing - making music to our king. We glorify - through word and deed recognizing his hand and giving him all honor and glory.

Finally, we *revel*. We love God and others. We rejoice with joy inexpressible and filled with glory.  We rest in his faithfulness: in knowing him even better.

This seems very pie-in-the-sky and not very practical. But let's think through a very basic idea.


You and I know that. Let us focus on the concepts: two plus two always equals four.

I wonder why? Because, if I put these two things with two things I can count them as four. By definition.

And I can repeat it - try it out over and over - with two things and two things. I can work the problems.

As I contemplate the concept, I realize the permanance of how God holds the concept of 2+2 together. It always equals four. In this I catch glimpses of God's unchanging order, character, and logic.* I become wiser about God.

If he is unchanging in something as small as 2+2=4, can I glorify Him in his bigger promises? Can I worship Him in his fundamental character of holiness?

I can *revel* in knowing such a God. I can rest in His goodness and mercy because I know he is unfailing and permanent. He is sure.

So, can this be our rule of six? We Attend!, Wonder, Work, become Wise, Worship, and *Revel*. On the best of days.

*This statement is from Logos Press' Math Sound Off

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Podcast Addicted: Intro Post

In the fall we got this crazy dog.

He's a plott hound, around 2 years old, and has severe separation anxiety. Well, he seems to be getting better, but in the first couple of weeks he broke out of a series of crates and ate my Bible, love seat, and front blinds.


He does better with a great deal of exercise, so I've been attempting to figure out how to walk him. I think we have a plan now and it involves him, me, my fitbit, and my phone with the Podcast Addict app. For my recent birthday, my brother got me bluetooth headphones which I'm very excited to start using.

In the fall, we were walking a good bit, but then I fell and hurt my arm (I thought I broke it, so thankful I thought wrong), so we took a break for a while. Then, Jason's work, as a part of their wellness initiative subsidized fitbits for participants. I got a Fitbit Charge, found some friends who do daily challenges and away we walk. I've worked my way up, on the best days, to about 3.5 miles, most days at least 2.

When I was off walking because of injury, I took a break from podcasts, so since the New Year, I've been catching up with my favorites. Now that I'm mostly caught up, I thought I'd do a series with some reviews. I've posted some about my favorite podcasts on Instagram, but want to be more complete. So for the next lot of weeks I'm going to post on Tuesdays about my favorite podcasts and why I love them. I'll link them all here as I post them week after week.

Today, though, I want to ask you, my readers, to tell me your favorite podcasts!

Monday, February 08, 2016

The Simple Woman's Daybook for February 8, 2016

For Today... February 8, 2016

Outside my window.... it's dark but the first edges of sun are peeping about the horizon.

I am thinking... about the myriad things I need to do today. I should work in my bullet journal to straighten out my thoughts.

I am thankful... for another year with family and friends and hoping for the year to come.

I am wearing... pajamas still. Soon, I'll get dressed and make the bed.

I am creating... clean dishes; I emptied the clean dishwasher and reloaded with the handful of Sunday dishes.

I am going... to continue reorganizing the school room. The big white desk is gone, now to rearrange more pleasingly.

I am wondering... if I'll get my homework done for CM group tonight.

I am reading... Start Here by Brandy Vencel. We're studying CM's principles 9, 10, and 11 tonight. I haven't started reading yet, so I can't tell you what those principles are!

I am hoping... to get a good deal of the assignment done.

I am learning... more about the Lord's Prayer. I'm also reading Philip Graham Ryken's When you Pray, which is excellent.

In my kitchen... there's a Tres Leches cake in my fridge and it is divine.

In my garden...

In the homeschool... it is time to start thinking about Year 5. We should start it in a few weeks.

A favorite quote for today... "We cannot hallow God until God hallows us ..." From When we Pray pg 72.

A peek into one of my days... On Saturday night, we ate in the dining room. I'm making the attempt to do so more often. Do you have a similar room that has been neglected? Can you try to make it special? We have decorated for February with a red heart theme :)

One of my favorite things... For Christmas my brother and sister-in-law got me one of those gel mats for in the kitchen. Another is on my way for my birthday. So, one for in front of the sink and another in front of the stove. Ahhhhhh.

From the board room... While I'm rearranging my homeschool room, I thought I'd share my "Homeschool - Rooms" board. While I'm convinced you don't need a homeschool room, I'm very thankful to have one. And while mine will never look like one of these, I enjoy the inspiration.

Post Script... Have you heard? The Scholé Sisters have a new podcast! Episode 0 and 1 have both been published and they are so great! Episode 0 is an introduction to the idea of scholé and our gracious hostesses. The first episode, about the importance of levity in our lives and homeschools. So necesssary and yet so very easy to ignore. Brandy, Mystie, and Pam are doing a great job and I cannot wait to hear more as I walk the dog ... they're excellent company!

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Friday, February 05, 2016

Our Weekly Amble for February 1-5, 2016

Despite N-boy's sickness, we had a pretty good week.

I think there are several reasons for this.

The first is that for my personal weekly goals I included "Play two games with each child this week. They can overlap." Because I put it on my week's to-do list, I gave myself permission to play games. I played some Qwirkle (my favorite), Uno (not my favorite), Swish, Jenga, and Suspend.  Even thought I didn't win everything, we had fun playing. We had fun laughing when Jenga and Suspend crashed down. I think this will remain on my weekly goal-list.

Another pathway to success has been what I'm going to be calling "incidental school."  We had a couple of examples of that this week. N-boy was given an Eco-Battery Vehicles kit for his birthday and I didn't really want to read the instructions or mess with it. The kids were like, all we need is some salt water, so we can put salt in tap water and that's all. They didn't believe me that hot water was necessary to dissolve the salt. So, we did an "experiment." Impromptu. And I didn't have to read the directions. Bonus.

At the opening, I mentioned that N-boy had been sick this week. He felt awful on Wednesday and Thursday. It was disappointing on Thursday because he didn't get to go to Disney on Ice which had been one of his birthday presents. Everyone was disappointed by that particular predicament.

On Wednesday, we finished Circle Time (which we did our four formal lesson days). I did some extra reading aloud that day and only assigned the girls math and piano beyond Circle Time. Then, I went to the kitchen to work on dinner - pot roast. I was making two so I could freeze some shepherd's pie fixings, so I cut the end off the celery. It makes a nice stamp for making roses, so I offered the girls an opportunity to paint. They had a wonderful time.

The only paint we had was fingerpaint ... maybe time to buy new tempera?
Finished products. They had a ton of fun with this!

You can see our final "fun" thing above. I painted the girls' fingernails. Something little and simple that brings them so much joy. Why don't I do these things more often? We decided that on Tuesdays we'd paint fingernails.

Today, Friday, I did some baking. The children came in and out as they wanted to. That was fun.

Oh, we did our regular school things, too. We did Circle Time Monday thru Thursday. The kids made great strides on "The Glove and the Lions" for poetry memorization. We began a new hymn: "For the Beauty of the Earth." On Tuesday, we read a chapter about the origins of Groundhog Day. We studied about helping verbs for grammar. We read quite a lot from George Washington's World and Abigail Adams. We read a fabulous selection from Madam How and Lady Why about wonder and fairy tales. The children were very involved with the story of David Brainerd in Trial and Triumph, N-boy in particular when it mentioned that his life inspired Dr. Livingston. (I presume.) 

R-girl started making her own artwork during Circle Time. Keeps her hands busy.
The girls did math each day; N-boy whenever he was healthy. We did other regular lessons - penmanship, mapping, piano, organ, etc. with a minimum of fuss (not none). We started working on Lesson 20 in Latin For Children A. It takes us about 2 weeks per lesson, but I'm not in a hurry with it as long as we're progressing.

I think we've only read one chapter of our current family readaloud, Emma this week.

We also continued our breakfast experiment. You can see many of them with the hashtag #uppingmybreakfastgame on Instagram. I'm @ladydusk there. Would love to have you join us and/or follow!

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Wednesdays with Words: Metrical Word

I'm reading Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty by Stephen Turley with a group of Catholic ladies on Voxer. We joke that I'm the token Reformed girl of the group.

Anyway, Awakening Wonder is seriously challenging my mental abilities. I read Chapter two three times, the final time I drew Venn diagrams just so I could understand. I was pretty sure I wasn't smart enough for this book the first time through that chapter.

I've been working on Chapter 3 which I understand better - probably because of the work I did in Chapter 2. I'm still outlining it, but I think I'll only take 2 passes this time. Maybe.

In Chapter 3, Turley is attempting to show how the early Christian church took the work done by the early Greeks and saw how truth was encapsulated within it, then expanded upon and refined that thought within a Christian framework.
The prologue of the Gospel of John begins: "In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God." The term logos represents one of the central concepts in classical Greek culture. Logos has the dual meaning of "counting" and "speaking," and thus from its beginning it had the sense of a lingusitic order or metrical word and was associated very much with verbally expressed ratio relations. Starting with Heraclitus in the sixth century BC, the term increasingly began to be associated with the world as a grand rational and intelligible order, what the Greeks called cosmos. Many of us are familiar with the Latin-rooted term quintessence; in classical cosmology there were four essences--earth, air, fire, and water--and the quintessence, or what the Greeks called logos, was the cosmic principle in which the totality of the universe cohered. (Awakening Wonder, pg 22; italics his, bold mine)
So, the logos of the Greeks--the quintessence--gets appropriated as the Logos of John 1. It is the element, the essence that held everything together.  In Colossians 1:16-17, Paul tells us that Jesus created all things and in him all things "hold together." It isn't a big leap to Jesus being logos.

But what I love about the quote I selected today - and I love the words selected in the pairings too - is the completelness, wholeness, fullness, totality described in such phrases as "linguistic order" and "metrical word." The combination of "...'counting' and 'speaking'... ;" word and number; Trivium and Quadrivium together as logos is a beautiful thing to behold.  I love how using numbers and words together is described in those phrases.

The idea that those ways together is how we find Jesus ... that idea takes my breath away.

Isn't this what we're about?!

The thing I don't like about the quote and the reason I almost didn't select it is that I wonder what he means by "associated ... with verbally expressed ratio relations."  Do you know what that means?

We have linguistic order. OK. Language and Order. Check.

Metrical Word. Yes, Words with count, meter, rhythm, poetics. Check two.

But, "associated with 'verbally expressed ratio relations.' I know what all of those words mean, but he seems to mean something in particular with that phrasing (and Google search fails me).  Is it more poetics? Is it mathematical ratios and statements like Pi or the Pythagorean Theorem? I'm just not clear what he means. Then, thinks I, "Smart people read Wednesdays with Words, maybe they can help me." So. Help? What do you think he means?

I don't usually explain - or need to explain - the graphic choices I make, but this week is a bit different. I chose a hymn for the background of the graphic this week because we have metered words. Music being a Quadrivium discipline and the words belonging to the Trivium. The hymn I chose is one we sang on this past Lord's Day and, can I say, brought tears to my eyes with its beauty in word and meter and harmony? Our congregation sings parts and the beauty of the men singing "crown him" and the sound being full and diverse made me think of that fullness in Christ, the many members of one body doing their work, and the majesty of Christ.  Christ, the logos .. the ending point of our searching ways.