Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Theme: Choosing Good Books for Our Children

Because there are no time machines, because it is not possible to travel to all the countries and cities of this amazing world, and because we cannot personally interview all the important leaders, philosophers, scientists, inventors, and villains that have trampled the earth, we must get most of our knowledge from books.  Through books we are able to travel to various places and meet people we otherwise would not know--and sometimes we even meet characters and creatures that are other-worldly altogether.  But not all books are created equal.  And we must learn to distinguish between the books that are worth our children's time and those that are not.

If children are to love reading and learning we must introduce the best literature to them.  A good book should be filled with not only accurate information and rich characters, but must be written well.  This is what we will be discussing over the next month.  Feel free to add a new post or comment of your thoughts and experiences on what has worked in your home and what hasn't, or simply any thoughts you may have on the subject.  I look forward to an informative and enlightening discussion!

Friday, October 22, 2010


We had the best field trip today. Went to Zoomar's Petting Zoo in San Juan Capistrano. What a great place for kids and adults. It is a petting zoo with goats, birds, turkey's, llamas, and a large enclosed area with rabbits, chickens and guinea pigs. We had lunch at the wonderful park next door with its unique playground equipment and beautiful landscape. Then we walked around old town SJC with the train station and cute shops before going back into Zoomars for more fun. We were there for just over four hours, much longer than I planned.

It was again a treat to be present and see the transformation take place in the boys as they timidly approached the animals at first. After time, they found their confidence and courage to befriend these gentle creatures. Towards the end of our day, I found it fascinating watching Ian instruct another young girl on the "ways" to pick up the rabbits and guinea pigs ;-)

All this got me to thinking about how wrapped up I get in the "book" side of our schooling and how easily I forget about the "life" experience side of schooling - one of the perks of being a homeschooler.

It was a refreshing day of schooling for all of us.

Thought I'd share.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Ice Skating

Just wanted to share what fun we had today ice skating. The local ice rink has a homeschool day on the first Thursday of the month. Their program includes skate rental, lesson and skating for 2.5 hours all for $5.00.

We had the best time. At first the boys were awkward and timid about getting on that ice. Dillon quickly picked it up but for Ian it was challenging. Even after falling many times he still kept on going, I was amazed at his persistence. In the end he was almost speed skating. The confidence they gained in themselves today in this physically challenging activity was wonderful to witness. It really hit me today just how blessed we are to be home with our children, watching their growth - inside and out.

Ok not to go on and on. I really just wanted to share with you and say if any one wants to go next month, let me know.


Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to Raise Boys That Read

This article was in the Wall Street Journal last week and it really addresses some of the concerns I've had about the content of some of the books out there for boys (and girls for that matter).  I've even gotten to the point where I don't even want to take my kids into bookstores like Barnes and Noble anymore because some of these books are front and center.   I'd love to hear what you all think of it:

How to Raise Boys That Read

Monday, September 27, 2010

Nature Deficit Disorder

The Circe Institute posted this on their blog and I thought it would be worth posting here.  I think everyone here will really appreciate it.  It's amazing to think, especially in Southern California, that we have to make a point to get outside.

Untitled from CiRCE Institute on Vimeo.

Saturday, September 25, 2010


Billy Collin's poem "Forgetfulness" indirectly fits our theme of memorization. The poem tells the story of losing one's memory. The first stanza reads: "The name of the author is the first to go followed obediently by the title, plot, the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel, which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never heard of." When you read the poem in full, you can't miss the humor, but also the theme of loss underlying it -- and the point that someday the details of name and place and dates will wilt and fall to the ground, like the memories of my grandmother who can no longer find the salt in her cupboard. Billy Collins poem reminds me of the law, the unpleasant underbelly of memorization. That despite our best efforts, our memories will someday fail.

But, seeing all things through my Lutheran-colored glasses, there is also gospel in learning things by heart. It's the gospel element of memory that I often overlook in my frenzy to learn and teach my children the books of the Bible, the Presidents of the United States, the geography of the entire world. While facts and dates are worthwhile, it's the beautiful words and ideas from poetry, great thinkers, history, literature that will shape our children, giving them greatness to ponder, and mostly it's the words from the Scripture and the poetry of our hymnody that shape their beliefs and strengthen their trust in God. My Pastor often reminds me that a person's theology very often stems from the hymns and spiritual songs they have memorized.

I want my daughters to have a treasury of good words that they can draw on so that they are well educated and so that they have lots of opportunities in life, so that they can be writers or artists or teachers if they'd like, so that they love to learn and appreciate beauty, so that they have rich vocabularies and strong minds, but especially so that they are like my 90-year old grandmother who forgets the simplest detail, but still chimes in to sing hymns with her church family and to say the prayers she memorized as a child.


The name of the author is the first to go

followed obediently by the title, the plot,

the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel

which suddenly becomes one you have never read,

never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor

decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,

to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine Muses goodbye

and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,

and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,

the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,

it is not poised on the tip of your tongue,

not even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river

whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall,

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those

who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night

to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.

No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted

out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

Billy Collins