Archive for June, 2007

Is it possible to attend an outdoor event and not come home soaking wet?

June 30, 2007

Ok, I’m being a little dramatic. But it did rain on us last night at the Joplin Airfest. We had umbrella’s, which we used, but we did dry out before leaving. And we didn’t get a nasty storm like last time.

After the air show, Rebecca St. James gave a great concert. While I do like her songs I’ve never been a ‘fan’, buying her CD’s or waiting for the newest song. I have great respect for her stand on purity, and hope many, many people hear and embrace that message. Purity is a wonderful place of protection and security for everyone, young or old.

We left before it was over, I have a cold and laryngitis, so sitting outside in the rain probably wasn’t the best route I could have taken! We did have VIP tickets for sitting and parking, but we had to park SO far away, I’m not sure but general parking was better.

 You can see Jack enjoying the air show here

You can read more about Jack’s adventures here 

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The Case for Homeschooling

June 30, 2007

I read an excellent editorial piece by Michael Pakaluk. I’m including the link, but also copying it here. Links aren’t around forever, and this is a good piece.

“Should I homeschool?
Over 2 million children are now homeschooled in the United States. On standardized tests, homeschooled children outperform matched peers in the public schools by a wide margin, and they are comparatively more successful in getting admitted to competitive colleges.

Strikingly, homeschooled children do not show the “black/white? test-score gap that is the bane of public and private schools. Likewise, homeschooled children perform equally well regardless of gender.

In light of these ever more widely appreciated facts, perhaps you have considered homeschooling your own children. If you have, a good place to look for assistance would be the Web site of the Home School Legal Defense Fund. But here I simply wish to state the case for homeschooling. Why should you consider it?

From my own experience, I count the following reasons as the most important:

1. It’s efficient. A homeschooled child typically finishes in 2-3 hours the work done in an entire day of public schooling. He can spend the rest of the day reading, playing sports, doing hobbies, practicing a musical instrument, and even helping out with chores.

2. It’s inexpensive. A mere fraction of the tuition of a typical private school is sufficient to pay for a homeschooler’s supplies, books, music lessons, foreign language instruction, gymnastics instruction, pilgrimages — and a cultural excursion to Paris or Rome.

3. Homeschooling tends to develop good habits of reading. Because of the influence of electronic media (television, radio, iPods, Internet, cell phones, video games), few public school students are now developing good reading habits. In contrast, homeschoolers display almost an opposite trend: on average they read widely and voraciously. Yet reading is the most important single determinant of the quality of a child’s education.

4. Homeschooled children more easily become friends with their parents. It’s natural of course for children to grow up admiring, respecting, and eventually becoming friends with their parents. But this natural process is frequently blocked when children are sent to common schools, where, because of peer pressure, they are taught to view their parents as overbearing, uncool and unreasonable.

5. Homeschooling requires that the father play the role that he really should play in his children’s education. The experience of homeschoolers is that the mother’s efforts during the day need to be reinforced by the father’s assistance in the evening — perhaps by his teaching a more rigorous subject, by checking homework. This ‘‘reintroduction of the father’’ into education proves tremendously helpful for children to become serious about their studies.

6. Unity of studying and religious belief. The best education is one in which there is no strict compartmentalization. Homeschooled children are free at any point of the day to consider the relationship between faith and reason, between what they believe as Christians and what they are learning about the world. In contrast, the practice in public schools, where children are effectively taught that there is something “wrong? in speaking publicly about God, does tremendous damage to children, and leads them to suppose that there is no truth in matters of religion.

7. Homeschooling tends to foster a lively patriotism. The reason for this, I think, is that homeschoolers often regard themselves as reasserting, in their own lives, the reality of rights that are prior to the state: the right of parents to educate their own children; the right of religious believers to seek an education which is integrated with their faith. Homeschooling parents will therefore turn to the Founding Fathers as sources of inspiration. Homeschoolers believe what the Founding Fathers taught, and they teach these things to their children as truths that are vitally important to believe.

8. Homeschooled children can enjoy the innocence of childhood longer. Let me put the point bluntly. If you would prefer that your child not learn about (say) oral sex and condoms, then nowadays you should consider taking your child out of common schools before the third grade (more or less), because by that age there will be children in the class whose parents let them watch sit-coms which regularly deal with such things, and who will talk about them in school.

9. Homeschooled children socialize better. Yes, the truth is actually the opposite of the common criticism, that “homeschooled children do not socialize well.? Homeschooled children learn to deal easily with people of all ages — babies, parents, friends of parents, and the elderly. They acquire a mature, “adult? mentality from an early age. (I know I’m in a homeschooling household when I sit down to talk with a friend and find that his teenage children actually want to sit with us and listen to our conversation!) In contrast, there is absolutely nothing less well-suited to good “socialization? than placing a child with hundreds of other children who are exactly the same in age. Remember that “homeschooling? has been the norm for nearly all of human history; compulsory education in common schools is a recent phenomenon, dating from about 1850.

What am I advocating then? Am I advocating that all children should be homeschooled? No, the parents’ decision about their children’s education should be made on a case-by-case basis, and reviewed each year. What suits some children will not suit others. What works in some households will not work in others.

What I am saying is that homeschooling is a very good thing, and that every parent should give it careful consideration as possibly the best option for their child.”

While there are exceptions to every rule, in my own experience, I’ve found all of this to be true.

Karen

Master Carpenter?

June 27, 2007

newshelves.jpg

Well, not quite, but not bad for my first try at putting up shelves! So much of what we have to put away in the office needs shelves. Mike has so much to do that I don’t know how to do and would rather not do – I figured I’d try my hand at shelves.

Now, I know it looks a little wonky and leans to the right a tad…. or is it the left? I’m not sure, but it holds things and nothing, not even the shelf is falling off the wall.

Karen

Moving and New House Pictures

June 26, 2007

We are finally moved in. It’s a mess and not exactly everything is here yet, but about 90% of it is here. We still need to finish painting Riley’s room, the bathroom in the office and the trim in the dining room. And we will, but not today.

You saw a before picture of the office here is a picture of it painted, but not yet put into order –

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Lots of shelves to put up, and even more things to put away.

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I decided to keep myself to this one set of shelves for fabric storage, and took 4 very large boxes of fabric to store in the attic.

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View of the front door from the dining room. We’ve ordered the glass for the front door, and it still has not arrived. This is not an ordinary piece of glass, it was a special order. We have no idea where it is.

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From the living room, into the dining room. Unfinished trim, but isn’t the paint beautiful? It used to be dark red, with a dark gray trim. ugh.

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And our beautiful light blue living room. I can’t remember the exact color of this room, but it was just very nondescript ‘Blekky’. What more can I say?

So much to do, so little time. I can’t believe June is nearly over.

More later, some ‘after’ pictures when everything is pretty and put away!

Karen 🙂

Back to Painting

June 16, 2007

After 2 days off, I’m headed back to the new house to paint trim. Shannon and Jack are still sick, so they will stay home and rest and I’ll have a day to myself at the new house. Which will be nice.

We’re on the downhill slide, so I hope to be finished sometime this week. I’m taking the camera, and will take some pictures.

Karen

I am SO tired of painting

June 14, 2007

Who’s bright idea was this? Well, I think it was me and Shannon. And I have to admit it does look gorgeous! Some After pictures are coming soon, there’s a few more details to be done before rooms can actually be called ‘finished’.

I painted our bedroom a Dark Brown. The name of the paint is Belgian Chocolate. and it does look, exactly like chocolate. Cutting in the edges, holding that small container of paint, it honestly looked like melted chocolate. You many think a Dark Brown room would be cavelike and well, just plain ugly. But it is beautiful! The woodwork is painted white as well as the ceiling. We have 2 nice size windows in our room so there is lots of light. I can accent with some light blue or pink, some creamy beige or white. Even red would look great in there. I can’t wait to get to the moving in part.

But, today we are resting. We’re both very tired and we hurt. Jack is sick, poor little guy. Not doing much today but resting my feet and putting some ice on my back.

Karen

Are we in Kansas?

June 8, 2007

Last night… oh so stormy! Shannon woke us up at 11:30 when the tornado sirens went off. If the tornado is in your county, the sirens go off. Even though the tornado was 25 miles away. Jack and Riley slept through the whole thing. But it was quite stormy, windy, thunder/lightning every few seconds, the rain was awful. Today, breezy but sunny. Lots of branches down, including one big HUGE branch hanging over the fence at our new house. Got to get that fixed.

What? OUR NEW HOUSE? Yes, we are moving. Across town, bigger office, beautiful wraparound porch, big windows, lots and lots of trees, nice backyard with nice tall fence, original hardwood floors, just a wonderful house.

Yesterday Shannon and I painted all day. Today, she is still painting, I’m recuperating. She’s younger than I am. I’ll paint tomorrow.  Technically this is Shannons house, which she thought she’d have to sell, REALLY didn’t want to sell, and then all of sudden we all realized we could live there. We like it better and she could keep her house. Wonderful plan! 🙂

So, all the while I was thinking June would be the month things settled down and I could relax a little bit, I was wrong. It might be August before any of that happens, although we plan to be moved by the end of the month.

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This is our office, previously deep olive green. While the woodwork looks sort of white, it’s really a dingy yellowish creamy blekky color. Kind of like the old switchplates that start out beige (sort of) and get yellowed and … well, blekky! Now… this room is well on its way to being a very light blue with real white woodwork. Pictures to come….

Karen

On Homeschooling

June 2, 2007

I guess when it’s a writing day, I write. After not writing here for nearly 3 weeks, here you have 2 posts in one day. Well, if it’s in me, I have to write it out of me.

When I lived in Idaho, homeschooling was such a common thing, no one thought twice when you said “My kids are homeschooled.” here is Missouri, I guess it’s not so common. Although I’ve only lived here for 2 1/2 years, I don’t know anyone who homeschools. Until i went to the homeschool group, and met lots of moms are doing what I’m doing.

I guess I was surprised when ‘the normal thing’ I thought I was doing was met with resistance from interested parties. I prayed about this for about 2 years before ever feeling like “This is the time, now is the time for homeschooling.” When I talked to Mike about he was very enthusiastic. It was something he wanted, but just didn’t think we could do it. And how could he ask me to do it? With all that I already do, he couldn’t in any place of love, ask me to add that to my list.

I also know, I’m not a kid person. I love my children, I love my grandchildren, but I’m not that kind of mom who joins the PTA and takes kids on field trips. I like to see ‘my’ child in the school play, but when their part is over, I’m ready to go home. God had to change my heart, and He did, giving me the desire to homeschool our last daughter.

But I wasn’t prepared for the resistance that came from other people. And I will say in all love and with respect, people who love our daughter, but they know very little about homeschooling. There is the stereotypical homeschool family. All of them social misfits and either super educated or barely knowing how to read. There is the belief that hs’d children are locked away in the house, never to see the light of day or socialize with other children. There is the stronger belief that children should be socialized by their peers. Have you seen their peers? The green hair, the sloppy clothes, the sassy attitudes, the peer pressure, the dumbed down public school curriculum that allows all but the most challenged children to progress to the next grade level. Why would I want those people to socialize my child?

Children should be socialized by a variety of people. From the 2 yr old to the 89 yr old. Children kept within their peer groups are generally sporting the ‘entitlement’ attitude. The ‘entertain me’ attitude. And the ‘parents are stupid’ attitude. (and there are always children who are the exception to the generalities) Well, I know kids like that and I don’t much care for them. Why would I want my kid to be like that?

I recently had someone tell me that only 80% of home school kids go on to college. And at the time, not knowing the statistics but thinking the public/private school couldn’t possibly be higher, I let the comment pass. Now, after studying the stats, I know that 25-34% of kids who graduate public school have the skills and are prepared to go to college. About the same number actually attend college. I need to find that person and thank them for – inadvertently I’m sure – proving my point.

As for the ‘lock your child away in the house never to see the light of day’ way of thinking, well, I’ll tell you our daughter does more outside the home than she did in public school. She’s gone more places, and done more things than before. 2 percent of U.S. students are home schooled. Yet, in a recent geography bee, 22 percent of the national finalists and 40 percent of the final 10 students were home schoolers. Why? The simple answer is this – parents are tired of their children being taught to the test, being taught water down, boring curriculum and want their children to actually know a few things. What’s the point of learning something long enough to take the test and pass it and then forgetting it? Why bother? 

When we pulled our daughter out of public school, and began a hastily put together program of whole learning from what we had around the house, she was like a sponge. That never became saturated. At 11 years old, I was appalled at the things she didn’t know. Things I learned in 3rd grade. Once she heard them, or read them, she knew them. She’s that smart. And totally bored in public school. So bored that she was shutting down and just ‘getting through the day’. What kind of life is that for a kid? Boring!

Now, she’s reading good books, learning math and the why’s and wherefore’s of all of it. She’s learning geography and writing. She’s learning about nature by being outside, and poetry by reading it every day. She’s learned to write legibly. Her science books are actually interesting and she’s eager to get to the next chapter. She’s learning about composers and artist’s and wanting to read ahead in books. She recognizes classical music as belonging to this composer or that one.

Yes, she still listens to country music and things that interest her. So much of our heritage is built on things of years, decades ago. How can you understand literature if you’ve never read the Bible, or mythology, or listened to music of the period? Much of literature simply won’t make sense.

We are giving her living books to read, not fluffy, entertaining short books that only encourage a child to be rebellious. We’re giving her real things to think about, so she can develop her imagination and not wait passively to be entertained.

Do I think I’m better than the teachers who went to college, when I didn’t? No, not at all. But I have a vested interest, a heart interest in THIS child. I have a responsibility before God to do the best I can do for her. I don’t have to contend with 25 other children in the same room. I don’t have to teach what the school district says to teach. As long as the basics are covered we are free to explore and learn about whatever we want to.

When you have your own children, and you see them being numbed by a too big classroom, no personal attention, bullies on the school ground, peer pressure to look and behave a certain way, you might think differently too. When you realize the potential your child has, but has no motivation to do something different because that way doesn’t’ get A’s – you might think differently too. And most importantly, if you feel that God has given you the privilege and the honor of teaching your own children and you don’t – you’ll miss out on one of the greatest experiences there is.

To see their eyes light up when they finally ‘get it’. To hear them say, “Can I read the next chapter?” To read the papers and stories they write, recognizing the brilliance of their minds – well, what is better than that?

We have our children for only a very short time. It goes by so fast. I know this well, as my oldest is 29. I only have this last daughter for another 7-8 years. I can’t let them go by in a daze, just riding along doing whatever comes along.

I want her to have motivation, develop her imagination, learn new skills with a purpose, and most of all – experience delight in her learning. And she is.

Ok I’m done, and now I’m giving Jack a bath and will stop writing 🙂 karen

The Outdoor Concert Phenomenom

June 2, 2007

What is it with outdoor concerts? Whenever we go we get stuck in the worst weather ever seen. Two summers ago we went to see .38 Special, REO, and Styx. Saw all of .38 Special, and half of REO. That’s when the tornado hit. Well, technically it didn’t hit US specifically, but we had to run for cover in our cars. Really tricky when it’s dark, blowing like crazy, raining sideways, muddy, and your car is parked in a field with no lighting. So, that was 2 summers ago.

Last night we went to the park to hear Mark Schultz. As we were leaving the house, the rain started pouring down, the thunder was booming but we kept saying, “It’ll blow over!” We parked, again in a field, and spent the first 20 minutes standing under a tree with umbrellas. Which Jack wanted to hold. And that was a tad dangerous.

So, it blew over, finally and we headed to the amphitheater to stake out our territory. Chairs in a bag, quilt and umbrellas in tow. It was cloudy, but nice.

We got some food and sat and watched the Boomtown Idol Show!! All the locals who thought they could sing came out. Some could, some couldn’t. One lady sang a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace. One older man who really couldn’t sing, but he knew all the words to Chantilly Lace and he was the most fun! He was just having such a good time!

We took Jack to ride the kids train – He climbed up into his seat and said, “All Aboard!” That’s Jack for you! He rode the ponies and went to the little petting zoo. Picked up chickens, chased a rabbit and petted a few goats. Mike took him over the conservationist booth where they had some snakes and a tarantula. shudder. Jack thought it was all very cool.

Headed back to our seats to hear the warm up band, Our Hearts Hero, and they were really very good! The weather is still very nice. Cloudy, but no rain. Some lightning in the distance, occasional thunder, but still nice.

Finally! Mark Schultz! And what a concert he puts on!!! He was Great, not only singing, but he’s very funny. Always getting the audience involved, never taking himself to seriously, and singing some incredible songs. Well, I’d say about halfway through his show, the wind kicked up and we felt a few drops of rain. The wind continued to pick up and the thunder was getting louder. Mark said he thought he could get one more song in before the electrocution started, but he was wrong. The wind got much worse, and everyone was scrambling. You know how hard it is to put those chairs in a bag in a 30mph wind? Jack was asleep on my lap, so I just sat while everyone scrambled. Finally, I could get up, and we got my chair packed up, and started heading out. Then, the heavens opened the rain poured down as if from a bucket. I was trying to hold the quilt over me, and Shannon who was carrying Jack – half asleep. But the mud was getting bad, and then my flips were slippery and I’m not too good on my feet anyway. The wind was whipping the quilt around us and we finally said, forget the quilt, we’re already wet, what’s the point!?!?!

Shannon saw that I was slipping and sliding so she had me hold her arm. So, she’s carrying Jack and trying to keep me upright… What a woman! At some point, a wonderful woman saw us in our dilemma and stepped up to walk along side us with her umbrella. What an angel!

Well, we did reach the car, in the muddy field, and prayed we weren’t stuck in the mud. We were soaked by this time and cold. We all piled in the car, smelling a bit like wet dogs, but so glad to be out of the weather.

Got home and really prepared for getting out of the car. Mike gave me the house key, Shannon made sure Jack’s seat was unbuckled, so Mike could get over there, snatch him and run for the house. It was like military maneuvers!!! 🙂

Well, we forgot about the broken gutter over the steps to the door. Which was a real waterfall! But when you’re already this wet, what’s another shower?

Ok, you know you’re really wet when you’re wearing jeans and your underwear is completely soaked. You know you’re wet when you have to wrap your hair in a towel, just from being outside.

Now Jack was fully awake and ready to play, but we were exhausted from our hike in the weather, and shaking from cold and just wanting to go to bed.

There’s another concert tonight, but I’m staying home. I’ll take care of Jack and the others can go do that again. Well, it’ll probably be great weather! But that’s ok, cause I’m exhausted. I’m just not as young as I used to be. Or as spry.

I told Shannon, THIS is why we stay home a lot. We like it here. It’s dry and warm, it’s comfy, and there are real bathrooms.

karen