Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: You Then

We've been enjoying a "consecutive reading" of Romans during morning worship and when this passage was read, I couldn't stop hearing the italicized passage. I know this - you know this - but Paul surrounds it with such a logical building that it took on new significance and took my breath away.
But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.” (Romans 2:17-24 ESV, italics mine)

Monday, March 23, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook for March 23, 2015

For Today... Monday, March 23, 2015

Outside my window... it is cold and grey and sad looking for the third day of spring.

I am thinking... it should not snow today, even if it's predicted.

I am thankful... for Netflix when I have a sick girl and a boy who had a tooth pulled this morning.

I am wearing... jeans and a Buckeye hooded sweatshirt.  Did I mention it's cold outside?

I am creating... nothing much.

I am going... to stay home today.  I hope I won't soon be going stir crazy.  I don't generally, though.

I am wondering... at the ability of my pastor to toss a complete paradigm shift in a sermon.  Yesterday's sermon about reconciliation was just such a one.  We are to reconcile to protect our brothers from breaking the Sixth Commandment. Beautiful.

I am reading... too many things which means not enough things.

I am hoping... to finish something else soon.

I am learning... How the States Got Their Shapes

In my kitchen... I haven't cooked since Friday, but we enjoyed beef fajitas then.  It was a nice weekend.

A favorite quote for today... We had so many wonderful quotes shared last Wednesdays with Words ... There are many links to follow.  Do enjoy, I know I did.

A peek into one of my days... we had a lovely trip to visit Jason's family.  R-girl enjoyed playing with Grammy's blocks from her childhood.

One of my favorite things... Netflix for sick days.  The children can learn and rest. We began How the States Got Their Shapes.  It was pretty good.

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: A Part of Himself

Two that go together from Karen Glass in Consider This.

"The proper nourishment for a living mind -- the only thing which will allow the mind to reach its full potential is a diet of ideas ... appetizing and varied ..." pg 69

"Everything that a person learns becomes a part of himself, and as his character is formed, he recognizes that he is made up of those experiences he has had, the people he has met, the books he has read, and the things he has thought." pg 73

Sorry for the tardy posting.  Looking forward to seeing what you've been reading.

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook for March 16, 2015


Outside my window... it's still dark. But that dark that makes you know the sun shall soon be appearing over the edge of the horizon

I am thinking... about Reveling in the Classics.  I thought this was a great guest-post in my learning about reveling.  Jennifer Dow at Expanding Wisdom did a great job!

I am thankful... for my nephew who turned 8.  He's such a sweet, funny, excited, thankful little boy.  I just love him.  We got to celebrate twice; the children went to his "friends" party on Saturday and we all went to his "family" party yesterday. Yay!

I am wearing... pajamas, but will be dressing soon.  Write this, drink some coffee.  Then I'll be more awake for the day.

I am creating... nothing really, although yesterday I was thinking about Christmas ornaments.

I am going... to be outside a lot today I imagine, as it's going to be warm for at least part of today.

I am wondering... how this day will go.  I still need to do some planning that I wasn't motivated for over the weekend.

I am reading... still working on Sebastian St. Cyr.  I know once I get drawn in, it will be all encompassing, I just am not there yet.  I like it a lot, though.  And it's due Thursday, probably with holds, so I should get a move on!

I am hoping... to get this post done soon; I keep getting distracted! But that's OK.  I want my coffee too.

I am looking forward to... seeing my in-laws, they're so wonderful.  I'm also pretty excited about the nicer, spring weather.  I've been enjoying the birds the last couple of mornings.

I am learning... about self denial, giving myself to others, serving. Our pastor's sermon series has been excellent yet challenging.  There's something different to "learning about" from "learning to."

Around the house... let's not go there, yes?

I am pondering... the smell of muddy paw prints.  Ah, spring.

A favorite quote for today...

A few plans for the rest of the week... another quiet week, so music lessons and Bible Study.  Yay.

A peek into my day...the girls did the brain maze at the Carnegie Science Center in the cold and spitting rain.  Fun!

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Revel Guest Post: Reveling in the Classics by Jennifer Dow

I am really, really excited about this month's guest post.

Jennifer Dow, who blogs at Expanding Wisdom has written about 'Reveling in the Classics.'  A part of my vocation as a Classical Christian Educator is to teach my children to wrestle with and understand classic literature.  I have learned -I keep learning- how my attitudes and my preparation affect my children's learning.

Mrs. Dow is a wonderful Classical Educator who has been providing fantastic resources for us - explanations and examples of classical teaching - and now she has provided a lovely encouragement to us to read and learn and *revel* in the Classics.

Generally, I prefer to not post on Sundays, but in our planning, we couldn't pass up the chance to post about this topic on the Ides of March, so here she is:

I remember when I read my very first classic. It was the Iliad. I was in my third-year homeschooling and my third year into the Christian classical tradition.

Other than the Bible, I had not read any book one would consider a classic. The greatness of the Iliad had been built up in my mind so much that I think it actually contributed to the trepidation I felt in reading that great poem.  As the day grew closer, the excitement grew and we began to read and I did not understand anything! In fact, I understood very little for about the first six books of the epic. I felt lost, unintelligent, and worried. I was worried because I knew I was supposed to love this poem, but I did not. How would I come to love The Iliad? How would I learn to read this book? How would I become enchanted with this epic? I wanted to see and experience what the big deal was, but I could not perceive it.

Thankfully, I was in the middle of some circumstances that were greatly beneficial to me in this pursuit. I learned a few simple facts, skills, and perspectives that enabled me have some success. They helped me to see the love between Hektor and Andromache and weep over the pain of their family being torn apart. It helped me to follow the fury of Achilles in the Iliad and the weaving of Athena in the Odyssey.

First, I encountered some perspectives that changed the way I thought about the classics. Initially, when I thought about the classics I always assumed they were mostly long and difficult books, however, that was an incomplete perspective. Of course, there are some very long and difficult classics, but that is not their predominant feature. A classic endures, is timeless and holds a mirror up to nature. A classic is a classic because of what it imitates or reflects. The classics reflect reality and amplify the things that make us human. The classics appeal to a deep part of who we are that we can never ignore. The very nature of a classic calls out for us to revel in them. The classics are Aesop’s fables, the age-old fairy tales, the epics, the myths, Homer, Virgil, Dante, Tolstoy, and the like. Stories that set an image before us that is enchanting, lively, and exciting.

Second, I learned a few facts about the reading process that made it easier for me to behold the classics. First and foremost, reading out loud with others is much better than reading alone. In fact, I would go so far to say that it is a minor tragedy to read only alone. The pursuit of truth and virtue is a community endeavor. It cannot be done alone. If we are truly to revel in the classics, then we need each other. Reading the classics together with others, even if it is just your children, in humility and love, builds community, pulls the veil back on great ideas, and inspires action. It was the act of reading the Iliad aloud with other Apprentices in the CIRCE Apprenticeship that gave me my first bit of enchantment with that wonderful epic. Then, later that year we read/performed Hamlet on a porch in the middle of a wooded retreat center. I fell in love with Shakespeare that night. Secondly, reading is really a celebration, of ideas, truth, and people. I spent a few minutes looking at the definition and etymology of revel. I found it so interesting that the main synonyms for revel are celebration and jollification. Reveling is reading. If you want to know how to read a classic then first ask how do you revel in anything and apply that idea to the act of reading. Reading is a thing that happens in the mind and soul. It is not interpreting symbols on a page. That is decoding. Reading is a contemplative thing that has to do with thinking, ideas, and connections. Reveling is reading.

Lastly, and considering what we have discussed so far, there are some practical skills that can help us to access the classics, especially the harder ones. Andrew Kern did a talk about this at the Greenville Great Homeschool Convention and I highly recommend you check that talk out. The two main skills he discussed were answering questions and asking questions. First, Andrew showed us how we could answer the questions every reader asks by, one, becoming aware of them, and two using a trusted system to see the answers. Some of you may already be aware of his highlighting system, but many of may not realize that the root of that system came from a realization of the questions every reader asks. Questions like, will I know what these words mean, how is this book organized, and what actions do the actors take. Furthermore, the highlighting system helps to bring emphasis to points of disagreement you may have with the author, interesting uses of literary devices, and favorite sections or quotes. This leads naturally to asking questions. Not just any questions, but questions that reveal the nature of things and help us make decisions. Questions that tap into eternal things and ideas that we all think about as humans. Questions that can be most fundamentally and simply contained in the question “Should he have done that”. The ‘should question’ serves us mightily in reveling in any book that we read, but most profoundly, the classic.

So, over the last four years I have had access to a new path, a path that allows me to revel in the classics. The classics have been a source of joy, inspiration, and transformation for me and they can be that for you too. I am sure many of you have already experienced this. Is it not worth it?

So, what are your favorite classics? How have those books changed you? What great books are you most looking forward to reading?

Expanding wisdom, extending grace,
Jennifer Dow

Jennifer Dow has completed the CiRCE Apprenticeship program as a CiRCE certified Classical Teacher, founded and directs the Paideia Fellowship Homeschool Community, where she also teaches the high school Humane Letters class, and maintains her blog, ‘Expanding Wisdom: A Christian Classical Homeschooling Blog’ In the past she has served as a Foundations Tutor and Challenge III Director with Classical Conversations, taught at St Raphael’s Orthodox Online Homeschool as a substitute teacher, taught several writing, fine art, and nature study classes throughout the local homeschool community, and has homeschooled her own children since 2009. Most importantly she is married Ernie and mother to three children, Josiah, Sierra, and Kathleen.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Our Weekly Amble for March 9-13, 2015

This week was odd.

It started out wonderfully! We had a really good Monday, and accomplished everything we had planned.  Including two science experiments about air pressure: water in a cup and a piece of paper and using suction cups.

We also, finally, got to play outside a good portion of the day as the weather was warmer and dry.

I had my CM Group meeting Monday evening and I even got my homework done.  Wonders never cease.

Tuesday, we went with my parents to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh.  It's a long, but doable, day trip; slightly more than three hours each way. Plus, it gave complete reciprocity for my parents' Grandparents +1 Adult membership to our local Science Center.

One wonderful thing was seeing the ice coming out of the rock face walls from when the road was put in.  M-girl said, "Mommy, it's just like that book! Madam How and Lady Why ... the water is wearing away at the rocks." I had forgotten to watch, but she hadn't.  That was my first reason to love AmblesideOnline this week.

The Center had some of the best science exhibits I've seen in children's museum.  Where we not only played, but actually learned some science.  Their Science of Sports area was fantastic for learning about the mechanics of our bodies and for doing a lot of physical activity (which, after 3 hours + of travel was appreciated).

The robot exhibit was well done; many things to do and see, plenty to learn.  We enjoyed playing Air Hockey with a robot arm, programming a robot arm to draw with small marbles, and trying to trick different sensors.  N-boy enjoyed the astronaut weightlessness simulation.

The water exhibit, which was new, was really neat.  We learned about water's form, function, and behavior. We played in a sand table that projected topographic lines on our mountains, then how water would behave on those hills.  There was a great deal more to the exhibit, including water creatures, plumbing, and how waves affect one another.  So good.

We got home rather late on Tuesday, exhausted with a ton of fog from quickly melting snow to drive through.  I was so thankful my dad did the main driving of the day.  So we had a reading and music day on Wednesday.

Thursday was our Art with Friends day and I still allowed the children to sleep late, so we got little done at home.  We finished the project we began last time by drawing lighthouses (or islands or boats) on our tissue paper sunsets. 

Then, because St Patrick's Day is coming, and we had Corned Beef and Cabbage for lunch, we made rainbow Wind Socks.  It was finally nice enough to go outside, so we have this beautiful picture :)

Friday we just finished with reading.  My second reason to love AmblesideOnline came Friday when the children were reading about New Amsterdam in This Country of Ours. That chapter also discussed the Duke of York and after the reading I listened to a rousing rendition of The Grand Ole Duke of York.  I love that.

So, while we didn't get as much done as in last weeks, I'm still happy with this Weekly Amble.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: Mirrors of Sins and Limitations

 I have been reading Alan Jacobs' excellent book, The Narnian, off and on for a year now. Actually, more off than on which is why I haven't finished it.

Don't let that deter you, though, because it is really very good and very readable.

Friday night, I had two and a half hours at basketball practice,  N-boy for an hour and a half and R-girl for an hour.  I have been lamenting how behind I was in writing quotes in my Commonplace Book, so I put on my headphones and listened to Jars of Clay's two latest albums and copied, copied, copied.  I made notes from four books including The Narnian, and I knew as soon as I wrote it down what quotes I was going to use for WWW this week.

They're on a theme that Lewis addresses again and again, "Chronological Snobbery." We cannot look back on the people of the past and assume that we are smarter, better, more sanctified, etc. than they.
Long before [Lewis] ever thought of defending Christianity, he defended --in articles, lectures, and a book-- the beauty and wisdom of the premodern literature of Europe.  Such a defense required that he root out what he called "chronological snobbery": "the uncritical acceptance of the intellectual climate common to our own age and the assumption that whatever has gone out of date is on that account discredited." (pg 164)
Jacobs discusses that idea for a while, and then he makes this astounding statement about the great books:
"The great books of the past then if we read them properly and carefully, can be mirrors in which we see the sins and limitations of our own period." (pg 166)
First, I love that Lewis calls out those who practice this "chronological snobbery." We aren't somehow more evolved or improved upon people; people are people from their time or ours. We have the same struggles, the same desires, the same sins, the same emotions that people have had in the Bible and in The Odyssey, let alone in the Renaissance and Medieval ages.

But second, I loved the imagery that Jacobs used of a mirror.  I immediately saw the graphic I wanted to do.  I don't tend to the visual, I tend to be very word oriented, so I was excited to imagine and then create exactly what I wanted for the graphic. This is a skill - along with improving my photography skills (or lack thereof) - that I am working on this year, so I hope you will indulge me.

That being said, I've created a Pinterest Board for Wednesdays with Words.

This is to be a fun thing and not a stress thing! 

A lot of participants have been creating graphics to go with their posts.  ALL I WANT ARE THE WORDS. I am going to try to start pinning your posts to the board (or you can request pinning rights and pin directly if you choose).  If you make a graphic, I'll use that. If you use my blue square, I'll use that. If you use some other image in your linked in post, I'll use that. I want to encourage people to keep words and share them with us and I think that will be a fun way to do it.

I've now hosted WWW for about six months, and I have loved every minute of it.  Thank you for participating, that's really the most fun part!