Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Book Chatter

# 4. The Shack - Wm. Paul Young

I finished The Shack this past weekend. It wasn't anywhere near the same dense reading of Crime and Punishment, nevertheless, it took me just as long, lol! Truth be told, I almost stopped reading it altogether, and considered returning it to the library unfinished. . .but please read on. . .

I have mixed feelings about this one and will try to share my thoughts and some highlights. I found the first few chapters and the overall story very interesting, but felt ambivalent about the way God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit were portrayed. While I understood the message the author was trying to deliver, the means still left something to be desired for me personally. I found I had to move beyond that hurdle to allow myself to fully receive the message and blessing of this book. So after pushing past this with some hesitancy, I am thankful to have read it to the end! The book deals uniquely with some powerful issues when it comes to Our Heavenly Father and our faith and understanding of Him. It attempts to address the questions that many of us struggle with from time to time - issues of evil in our world, God's control. and sometimes seeming passiveness of unfathomable tragedies, pain, and injustice.

I hope that these poignant quotes will speak to your heart and have you picking this one up soon!

These read as if spoken by God -

"In your world the value of the individual is constantly weighed against the survival of the system, whether political, economic, social, or religious - any system actually. First one person, then a few, and finally even many are easily sacrificed for the good and ongoing existence of this system. In one form or another this lies behind every struggle for power, every prejudice, every war, and every abuse of relationship. The "will to power and independence' has become so ubiquitous that it is now considered normal."

"You try to make sense of the world in which you live based on a very small and incomplete picture of the reality. It is like looking at a parade through a tiny knothole of hurt, pain, self-centeredness, and power, and believing you are on your own and insignificant. All these contain powerful lies. You see pain and death as ultimate evils and God as the ultimate betrayer, or perhaps, at best, as fundamentally untrustworthy. You dictate the terms and judge my actions and find me guilty."

"Together, you and I, we have been working with a purpose in your heart. And it is wild and beautiful and perfectly in process. To you it seems like a mess, but to me, I see a perfect pattern emerging and growing and alive - a living fractal."

"Remember, I am not about performance and fitting into man-made structures; I am about being. As you grow in a relationship with me, what you do will simply reflect who you are."

". . .if anything matters then everything matters. Because you are important, everything you do is important. Every time you forgive, the universe changes; every time you reach out and touch a heart or a life, the world changes; with every kindness and service, seen or unseen, my purposes are accomplished and nothing will ever be the same again."

Wow! And this is just a few highlights! There are really some powerful points in this book and it has left many with much food for thought.

I'd love hear from others who have read it, and encourage those who haven't!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Altogether Beautiful. . .

watching my daughter blush with excitement and surprise as her boyfriend knelt down to propose

empty laundry baskets ;o)

the amazing assortment of books available via the free public library

snow. . .fresh, crisp, white, bright snow

laying next to my husband and holding hands as we drift to sleep

Monday, February 15, 2010

Eclectic Erudition - How do *you* homeschool?

Raise your hand if you want to be put in a box? I'll bet you didn't raise your hand, did you? Over the years, I've taken a close look at many of the "methods" of homeschooling and have found that each has it's share of pros and cons. There is much wisdom to be gleaned from the array of resources put out by those who have gone before us, but that doesn't mean that there is a right or wrong way to homeschool. It also doesn't mean that you have to select "one" way of homeschooling and hold fast to it. There are as many creative and fruitful ways to homeschool as their are individuals in the world!

I have found that what works for us is an eclectic style that allows us to selectively and prayerfully choose that which fits each child's needs - methods, ideas, curriculums, activities, tools, resources, groups, etc. This multifaceted approach also leaves us free to discard, without guilt, that which doesn't work for us, no matter how "great" it might be for someone else!

I like to refer to our style as "Eclectic Erudition". So throw in a dash of Charlotte Mason, a sprinkle of Beechick, a flair of classical, a touch of delight-led learning, a lot of room for the individual, and you have a eclectically erudite style that is broad and comprehensive, yet works with your family, your needs, your goals!

Still trying to figure out your own philosophy? May I suggest a few good books for reading, a notebook and prayer. As you journey through the various methods of homeschooling, jot down the "best of the best" ideas and make a list of what you'd like to incorporate into your homeschool. Being Eclectically Erudite is about utilizing your own handpicked sundry options to gain knowledge and wisdom in one's lifestyle of learning!

Below are just a few of many reading options, but they are some of my favorites and those which I have found most helpful over the years.

Educating the Wholehearted Child by Clay Clarkson
The Three R's and You Can Teach Your Child by Ruth Beechick
For The Children's Sake - Susan Schaeffer Macaulay
The Charlotte Mason Companion - Karen Andreola
The Well-Trained Mind - Susan Wise Bauer
Homeschooling with a Meek and Quiet Spirit - Teri Maxwell

Education isn't about a particular method or curriculum oer se. It's about nurturing and developing the mind, spirit and body so that we make know God, live appreciatively, participate wholeheartedly, worship freely, love generously, learn continuously, serve fervently and persevere astutely.

Life is a journey of perpetual learning and keeping God at the head of the class will help guide us and keep us on the right path!

Friday, February 12, 2010

Book Giveaway - "For The Children's Sake"

With so many blogs and so little time, I wanted to do something creative to encourage folks to stop here for a visit. Blogging sometimes feels like typing into the cyber abyss, yet it is my hope that you will find something of value here and that I, in turn, can find motivation and purpose for continuing! So. . .

On March 1st, I will be giving away a copy of one of my favorite homeschooling books "For The Children's Sake" by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay. To enter, you must be registered as a "follower" on my blog and leave a comment on any one post you find helpful or interesting! Be sure to search the "categories" sidebar for other topics.

Good luck and thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Creating an Annual Portfolio (or Keepsake Notebook :) in 3 Easy Steps!

Whether or not you are required to maintain an annual portfolio, it is a neat way to maintain records for yourself and it makes for a wonderful resource for reminiscing about the school days gone by! How many times do we wonder if we're doing enough? If our children are making adequate progress? A portfolio helps alleviate those fluctuating concerns and self-doubts because you have the evidence in front of you. Children love to look through them as well!

If the term "portfolio" doesn't strike your fancy or sounds too official, then "keepsake notebook" is an alternative name that you may consider using instead :)

The most important tip for maintaining a successful portfolio/keepsake is to start at the beginning! By that I mean get the binder ready first. (I prefer binder as opposed to plastic tub, because it's makes for a nice book to flip through). Once the binder is ready and in place, it's much easier to add your child's work and to keep it organized along the way. Trying to tackle this project at year end with a stack of papers glaring at you is daunting and overwhelming. This first step will have you prepared to build it as you go! So let's look at the process step-by-step. . .

Step 1
Get the binder ready. I find that a one inch binder is sufficient, but you have to remember that you don't need to keep EVERY item! A good sampling of each subject showing progress along the way is sufficient.

I like to get the binders with the clear plastic insertable covers so that I can personalize them. I get scrapbook materials and create a jazzy cover and spine.

Step 2
The next step is to create tabbed dividers for each subject. Decide what subjects or categories you want to divide your notebook into and then prepare your tabs.

Some examples or suggestions tabs might be. . .

Language/Language Arts
Reading Log
Field Trips
Student Records (this can include an assortment - attendance, progress reports, report cards, certificates, standardized testing results, a list of resources/curriculum used, notice of intent, accomodations if your student has learning disabilities, etc.. You may also choose to place this section in the beginning of the notebook, instead of behind a tab)

*If your state has required subjects that you must teach, you may wish to print that page from your state's Dept. of Education and include that in your notebook.

Step 3
Add to it as you go! Now that your notebook is ready to fill, all you have to do is select the work you wish to showcase and place it behind the appropriate tab. Now, again, I realize some of us might be inclined to keep every sheet our precious children do, but it is truly not necessary. Keep a handful of things from each subject that will help showcase the child's progress.

A few additional tips. . .

Tip #1 - a bit of scrapbooking in the end of the notebook is a nice way to display photos, ticket stubs, and other memorabilia that remains from field trips, science and history fairs, co-ops, etc.

Tip #2 - clear page protectors are a good way to protect those extra special pieces of work. You can also you these for writing assignments - I put the final draft on top, then hide the rough, edited drafts behind it.

Tip #3 - include a picture of your child taken at the beginning of the year. You can place it on the front binder cover, or create an "All About Me" page to place in the very beginning of the notebook. (print this on cardstock and leave a space for the picture!)

When I first decided this was the method I wanted to use, I had a couple years that I combined together. There is no right or wrong way to do this. Figure out what will work for your family and get creative!

Okay, that's my scoop and below are a few pics! If you have more to add or share, please leave a comment below!

Cute scrapbooking packets are available in many places - Walmart, Target, Big Lots, Dollar Trees, Archiver's, etc. Your creativity is the limit.

I don't know if you can tell from the pic's, but these have the 3-d scrapbooking stickers to give it a bit of depth. We intentionally left an open space on the green cover to add a picture, when I finally get around to developing them!

Spines makes them easy to locate on the shelf!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Homepreschool and Beyond (new book!)

I wanted to share this new book that was authored by another home school mom that I have been on a list with for several years now. She always has great advice on taking advantage of real life, natural learning opportunities and taking care not to push our youngest ones to academic "schooling" before they are ready!

You can get a glimpse via the link below now, and Susan hopes it will be available on Amazon sooner!

Homepreschool and Beyond: A Comprehensive Guide to Early Home Education by Susan Lemons

I hope you'll check it out!
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