Monday, July 16, 2018

The Simple Woman's Daybook for July 16, 2018

For Today...

Looking out my window ... it's been rainy and now will just be hot and humid.

I am thinking ... about some upcoming blog posts - adding to my scaffolding series and one on the "riches."

I am thankful ... for the Set Your Feet Retreat and how well it went last week and that I got to spend a great deal of time with Karen Glass.

One of my favorite things ... spending time with like-minded mamas and thinking about important things.

I am wearing ... khaki shorts I forgot about and one of my favorite tops - navy blue peasant style with light blue embroidery.

I am creating ... a couple of guest posts. I finished the easy one this morning and still have the hard one to go ...

I am reading ... Consider This by Karen Glass because I never quite finished it. I'm so close to being done, I just need to finish it. It's so good.

I am hoping ... to read Know and Tell next.

I am learning ... to try fewer things at once. I get so excited and start something when I should stick with what I've already started.

In my kitchen ... I need to get back to cooking. Baseball/Softball season is over, soccer season has yet to begin I need to make a plan.

In the school room ... everyone is having a hard time being serious about lessons today - the first day after camp.

In my garden ... we still need to plant R-girl's flowers. And check the plants from my brother.

Post Script ... I'm very excited to attend Brandy and Dawn Duran's day-long webinar for Vibrant CM Communities on 7/28. Should be informative and helpful! Our community is working on a fuller day, so I'm excited to see what they have to say.

A moment from my day ... Saturday night dinner was Zucchini Pizza thanks to my brother's over-abundance :)

Closing Notes: CharlotteMasonIRL is hosting the second week of our Planning Festival. Last week was fantastic and today's posts so far have continued in that vein. Join us?

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Saturday, July 07, 2018

Comparison, Worry, and Fear

[This post is a devotional I wrote for a baby shower. I hope it's an encouragement to you.] 

One of the biggest struggles I faced as a new mom was wanting to do everything exactly right and being certain I'd do everything exactly wrong.

This self-doubt led only to comparison, worry, and fear. I compared myself and my children to what I perceived of others and always found us lacking. I worried that I was too harsh, too lenient, to strict, too lax, and always that I was failing my kids. I feared that others saw just how lacking I was -- I had never even changed a diaper before -- and would judge me and see me as the fraud I thought I was. Worst of all I feared I would ruin my relationship with my kids and husband and theirs with the Lord. 

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom." 

My fear was misplaced -- often still is -- but in this parenting role the Lord has tasked me with, I do it best when I look to Him first.He comforts me with his love, not a list of "do this."

Educational Philosopher Charlotte Mason says children are born persons -- they are whole, able-minded, fat souled persons. We know this from the Psalms. But they are immature persons and require guidance, support, and love to reach maturity. Even our Lord grew in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and with man.

As your new little one is in your arms to love and protect to guard and guide, to feed body and mind -- trust the Lord. Look to Him. As I was writing I kept thinking of the Sara Groves song, Keep Your Eyes on the Prize, which is, of course, Paul enjoining us to not compare but run the race set before us - looking neither to the right nor to the left but straight toward Jesus.

I'm certainly not saying to not ask advice or read books or ask for help from your brothers and sisters, family and friends -- we have been given to you by the Lord. As a community we support and help one another. But I encourage you to be wise: look first and last to Christ the Author and Finisher of our faith. Compare all advice to Him. The Holy Spirit is yours; trust Him when he prods. Cast your cares on Him.

This little child is a blessing -- love him bountifully, show him your faith in deed and word. Jesus came to make you free -- trust Him. Be confident that you are on the rock and He will help you. Trust your husband as he works with and supports you.

Sift through the advice together and look for love; do not be constrained by the "right" or "only" way to raise a child, to educate a child, to discipline a child. Do not be afraid. The Lord is for you. Look to Him.

Monday, June 18, 2018

The Simple Woman's Daybook for June 18, 2018

For Today...

Looking out my window ... it's getting dark. I heard a rumble of thunder a bit ago - hope it cools things off overnight.

I am thinking ... about Mason's three tools actually, I'm stewing about my son's baseball game tonight and how adults ruin things for kids.

I am thankful ... that he's taking it OK. We've worked for years on "the ref is always right, even when the ref is wrong the ref is right." They were definitely wrong tonight, but N-boy is controlling his emotions and not letting them control him. He knows things can't change at this point. I should follow his example.

One of my favorite things ... is watching my kids play. N-boy pitched tonight. It was a shaky first inning, but a good second and third. I was proud of how he pulled it together and did his best.

I am wearing ... pink tank top and jeans shorts - it was scortching hot at the game!

I am creating writing ... about scaffolding and finding pictures as I go. I'm starting to get excited (and nervous) for the Set Your Feet Retreat.

I am read ... How the Irish Saved Civilization.

I am hoping ... N-boy's next outing goes even better. He'll probably pitch on Wednesday again.

I am learning ...

In my kitchen ... I need to empty the dishwasher. I did make chocolate tres leches cake for Father's Day yesterday and it was a hit.

In the school room ... the school books are all in the kitchen :p

In my garden ... I planted seedlings from my brother. I should check them. R-girl watered the herbs today, at least.

Post Script ... This week at Charlotte Mason IRL, we're talking about the Discipline of Habit. We'd love for you to check it out.

Shared Quote ... my favorite CS Lewis quote:

A moment from my day ... we started school outside this morning

Closing Notes: Summer school is in full swing - but that doesn't mean we're doing full days. I really want to get back to doing Morning Time, but when the evenings are so late with baseball, the mornings are hard. We'll do what we can and count it all a blessing.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Book Review: How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill

How the Irish Saved CivilizationHow the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Own. I'm going to actually give it 3.5 because the first half of the book was so good.

I started this on the beach and read for about 4 hours straight (ish) what with watching kids and people and dogs thrown in. I did manage to sit there and get sunburned though. I found the chapters interesting and the comparisons easily (too easily?) applicable to modern day. Ausonius' poetry being politically correct and expected; Augustine being a robust thinker. The description days of the Roman Empire being fat and happy and their failure to be prepared for invasion. All of that made sense in a historical as applied to today sense. I enjoyed the writing and the pace of that section. He made an argument for Western Civilization and learning as was known through the fall of Rome.

The next part was a lot new to me. I enjoyed the mythos of Ancient Ireland. My kids had just been reading and narrating about the Tain and other stories in their AmblesideOnline Year 7 readings, so that crossover of ideas was quite helpful. Cahill introduces an Irish people rife with story and as ready to hear the gospel as the Greeks had been. His tracing of where they came from and his discussion of a national character were interesting. His storytelling is a little bawdy in this section, but probably good.

We come back to the church and to Patrick. Here is where some of Cahill's claims start to fall apart for me. His story of Patrick was engaging and interesting, the work Patrick did in Ireland to evangelize the people was miraculous for sure. Cahill's characterization of the Irish comes into play here and as the narrative continues the Irish remain Irish but believe the Gospel. There's less fighting, but in general the Gospel makes no real change in their lives and activities. This is contrasted sharply with the uniform whitewashing of culture that the Church is described as having over the rest of Europe.

And, then, Rome falls.

The last part was, IMO, the part that knocked stars off. Part of the issue, for me, is that while this isn't an academic work, it is presented as scholarly for the public. The bibliography is insufficient, IMO, for helping with the claims that he is making. All of the books in all of Western Europe were entirely destroyed? All of civilization imploded that completely? Now he had made an argument that they were already failing from within to advance in intellectual and cultural ways (cf. Ausonius and his poetry) I think he needed to make a much stronger argument that salvation was necessary for the continent.

All of the sudden, out of nowhere the Irish come to save the day. These men who were exiled from their green isle and have been copying any scrap of paper that came their way. I did love that he portrayed the monks as loving learning and the creative impulse that came out of their copywork. I guess I wanted to see more than two paragraphs make the case that civilization needed saving and that the Irish swooped in like Superman to save it without any real danger to those who were in need.

The sharp dichotomy he built between the Irish church and the Continental church is disturbing as well. He also seems to have dug to find many salacious stories to keep modern readers engaged and reflects on Saint Brigid, in particular, with a decidedly modern eye. He paints Ireland with a fine brush and European Christianity with a broad one and then compares distinctions. This is a book for a careful, mature reader IMO.

I loved how he brought story, poetry, philosophy, and memoir together to build his story. It was fun to meet Beowulf in the pages as I had just finished it. His use of story to display the Irish character was very well done.

Overall, I'm not disappointed to have read it. I greatly enjoyed vast swaths of it. I'm disappointed in the speed with which it was all wrapped up. The overall arc was good, but the last chapters felt rushed and not as carefully crafted and engaging as the beginning. They were more jumbled and a timeline of events was hard to follow. I'm also not totally convinced he made his case - that civilization needed saving and the Irish are the means by which it was accomplished.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Book Review: Beowulf Translated by Burton Raffel

BeowulfBeowulf by Unknown
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A friend of mine loaned me her copy of Burton Raffel's translation of Beowulf. I'd been listening to Seamus Heaney's Beowulf with my kids and was surprised by the Christian themes I heard. My friend thought the introductory essay in this edition was worth reading and she was right.

But, then, I went ahead and read the whole thing. Because the kids and I had been listening slowly as I drove them places, I sometimes missed parts and was a little lost during storytelling or other conversations that referred to previous actions or people; reading it helped a lot.

Having never read it until now, the events and speed of them surprised me. The plot points carried the story, certainly, but the descriptions of Beowulf were fascinating to me, especially lines 2177-2183

So Edgetho's son proved himself,
Did as a famous soldier must do
If glory is what he seeks: not killing his comrades
In drunken rages, his heart not savage,
But guarding God's gracious gift, his strength,
Using it only in war, and then using it

While we don't see Beowulf's whole life, we see - or hear about - five important episodes where he used his bravery rightly against wickedness and darkness. We see him judge rightly on issues of diplomacy. We see him acting as a king even unto his own death to protect those who were unprotected.

I really enjoyed Beowulf and will enjoy listening to the sections in our audio with my children to hear them a second time.

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Monday, June 04, 2018

The Simple Woman's Daybook for June 4, 2018

For Today...

Looking out my window ... the sun has gone to bed and so must I. Soon.

I am thinking ... scaffolding, personhood, paideia, Irish civilization, the Ideal Type. Something's bound to bump into something else up there.

I am thankful ... for a wonderful vacation with my wonderful inlaws.

One of my favorite things ... is date night with Jason when we're at the Outer Banks:

I am wearing ... shorts and the top in my profile picture here on the blog ... and a grey hoodie. It cooled off.

I am creating ... blog posts that may never be written and a talk that has to be done soon!

I am listening to ... Flourish a new podcast from Ambleside Schools International and enjoying it very much.

I am hoping ... Jason's meeting doesn't go too late tonight.

I am learning ... to control my temper and to stop the negative interaction sooner.

In my kitchen ... BLTs at R-girl's softball game tonight. They tied, but the BLTs were yummy.

In the school room ... back to it tomorrow. Gotta print the week's assignment sheets ...

In my garden ... I have plants from my brother to plant. And maybe R-girl's garden tomorrow. And maybe get N-boy to mow.

Post Script ... big doings over at Pam's place. A planning new course that we're super excited about. (Nota bene - I'm not an affiliate, but I am paid for work I do for Pam as her Community Manager. I wouldn't work for her or share her stuff if I didn't think it valuable. Carry on. Check it out!)

Shared Quote ... Last week's Wednesdays with Words post on Instagram:

A moment from my day ... writing at the orthodontist:

Closing Notes: So, our date night was at The Paper Canoe. We've gone every year since it was opened and we love it. The food is delicious and the views are spectacular. This year, while we waited for our table, we read some of the book from which it gets it's name: a travel journal from the 1870s of a man who canoed from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico and then from Pittsburgh to the same point. His trip took him down the Currituck Sound, which is the view of the restaurant. The parts of the book we read were so well written, I ordered a reprint from Amazon. He is traveling in the South during reconstruction and the interactions with people are so interesting. I can't wait to read more.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book Review: Sit by Deborah Ellis

SitSit by Deborah Ellis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I sat to read Sit by Deborah Ellis while watching the kids - my kids and my nephews - playing blissfully in the pool while on vacation. While I would never say that sadness, hardship, or even violence have never touched their teen and pre-teen lives, the juxtaposition between their lives and the stories detailed in this book were stark.

Sit is a collection of short stories with children or teens in difficult circumstances; children from all over the world facing violence of a mental, emotional, and/or physical nature. They are often soul-breaking situations out of which strength or destruction may come. Most of the stories are unrelated -- the exceptions are 1) the first and the last of the same character in his violent situation and then his redemptive one and 2) a brother and sister whose stories are told separately, yet coincide to show how well they know one another and help them find common ground in their parents' divorce.

All of the children physically sit as some point or another and their sitting comes with introspection and contemplation. The act of sitting and thinking yields an action or decision. Their thoughts affect their identity - the tell the reader about who they decide to be and how they would be known. In this way, there is a spark of hope in each story, which is good as many of the stories are dark.

There are some problems with Sit that have been detailed by other reviewers on GoodReads. The adults are uncommunicative at best and abusive at worst. The children are always portrayed as wise due to their willingness to sit and think. While relationships like those portrayed here are not uncommon, I hope that these contentious relationships are not what our society sees as normative, nor do I desire to show my children that such relationships are the norm.

I think this would be best as a read-aloud book. Because of the weight of topics and the way interpersonal relationships are portrayed, much discussion would be required. Ellis deals with divorce, child abuse and alcoholism, child labor, the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania, the Holocaust and generational guilt, juvenile detention and solitary confinement, the tsunami that wiped out Fukushima in Japan, and refugees escaping the Taliban hiding in Uzbekistan. The stories are not long and the writing is not difficult, but I would not hand this to a child without intent to discuss -- and reading together would be the best.

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