Ancora Imparo - I am still learning

Friday, February 27, 2009


Well, we got our tax refund today. It came a lot quicker than we expected, which is a good thing! Get some bills paid off. And, of course, I had fun buying exciting new unschooling things for Taliesin and Nathanael today. We, of course, had to head for the hobby store for some new art supplies. From there we ended up with a new bag of Noodles, some sun catchers with paint and glitter, two model airplanes, two tape measures, and the neatest tone bells in rainbow colors. From Wal-Mart, we came home with some Fur-Real toys, a baby t-rex and a baby triceratops similar to the Fur-Real toys, two flute and songbook combinations, a polar bear and a panda Planet Earth stuffed toy/DVD set, a Spider Man game, and a small keyboard. Taliesin and Nathanael are enjoying themselves with their new unschool supplies. :^)


Thursday, February 26, 2009

Weather Bubbles

Taliesin and Nathanael awoke on this cloudy Kansas day in the mood to study the weather. So, as they took a bath this morning, they requested that we read Where Does the Rainbow End? and Amazing Weather. Today, they really enjoyed discussing hurricanes. We talked about how hurricanes occur in a tropical climate. They connected the tropical climate with our discussion yesterday of tree frogs and rain forests. After talking about weather events and discussing weather terms (one of their favorite things to do); we went outside to eat our lunch and smell the smell of fresh rain in the air. We also read some out of a book called Wind and Weather, a book that asks fun questions about whatever topic the book is written about (it comes in a series) and then answers those questions. Then came the really fun part. After lunch, we made bubbles and discussed how the wind (the actual wind or our breath) can make the bubbles blow - much like the wind in hurricanes and tornados. They had so much fun! Taliesin found the recipe for making bubbles in one of his cookbooks. They turned out great - made huge bubbles. It just takes one cup of dish washing liquid, two cups of water, and one teaspoon of corn syrup.



One thing I do really enjoy about my education classes is I learn all of the educational jargon for what we do everyday. Kind of like yesterday's assignment. What we did was not so much different than what we do everyday. Taliesin and Nathanael learn by following their interests. But I was able to take that unschooling activity and explain it in educational terms for my assignment. This is extremely helpful for me for record keeping. I've always kept record of what Taliesin and Nathanael do each day on a chart, and I keep their projects in portfolio form (or bookshelf form - depending on the project - LOL). I also use this blog as somewhat of a record with pictures. If any questions are ever posed to me, I can refer people to these avenues to show them that Taliesin and Nathanael are most definitely learning in our unschooling environment. Now, however, I am also keeping a "teacher journal." I actually found it at the dollar store and thought it would be a good idea to write everything out in educational terms. This way, I have a more "professional record," for lack of a better word, of what my sons do everyday. I guess you could call it school wording for the unschooled. :^)


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Directed Reading or Unschooling?

So my assignment for my education class this week is to conduct a directed reading assignment. A directed reading assignment is usually focused on a textbook. The teacher will introduce new vocabulary words prior to the reading assignment. Throughout the reading, the teacher will ask students to make predictions and draw on the students' prior knowledge of a subject to introduce new material. Character education and word recognition are also usually included. After the textbook reading, there are usually assignments like hands-on activities or a reading play to go along with the textbook studies.

What's an unschooler to do? I don't do textbooks (unless, of course, Taliesin and Nathanael request them. This does happen quite frequently, actually, with Taliesin and his A Beka health textbook we picked up from a homeschooling meeting a few months ago). I do not "direct" them into something I think they "need" to learn. The learn by following their interests.

Sooooo... Here's my compromise. We'll see how the grade goes. LOL.

Today, we got on the subject of tree frogs (thanks to our pet, Dorothy). As we discussed Dorothy, we pulled out their Planet Earth: Animals and Their Prey book; which has a fun discussion on tree frogs. We then looked up tree frogs online. This brought us to a new vocabulary word - insectivores. (We also talked about nocturnal and diurnal animals - per Taliesin. Great for prior knowledge of vocabulary in the assignment). We talked about what Dorothy eats - chricket and mill worms. Then we went back to the Planet Earth book and talked about how some tree frogs in Australia eat bats. This led to an interesting discussion of how small the bats must be, since tree frogs grow to be a full four inches long. We then read in Planet Earth about a tree frog's habitat - something we have talked about a lot via Dorothy and Go, Diego, Go books (another good one for drawing on prior knowledge). We talked about the rain forests, where some tree frogs live, and about the temperature of the tropics - with Taliesin and Nathanael naturally making predictions about how tree frogs live.

Then, per Taliesin's request, we read "The Lorax." Actually, a neighbor girl was also here having this discussion with us. She noticed a Noodle picture Taliesin had made of the Lorax. It hangs on our living room wall. So we went outside (beautiful weather today - also helped with the "lesson"), and read "The Lorax." This story was the perfect choice for Taliesin to make. What better way to discuss how the rain forests are being destroyed because of people chopping down the trees. This led us back to think about the tree frogs and other animals that live in the rain forests - how they must feel a lot like the animals in "The Lorax." We also touched a little bit on the greed of the Once-ler in the story (character education).

Right now, Taliesin and Nathanael are watching the movie The Day After Tomorrow (Nathanael's choice). Yes, I know many people disagree with this movie. It's not one of my favorites, either. And many question why I would allow Taliesin and Nathanael to watch it. They both like the weather events in the movie. (And we, of course, do talk a lot about how it is just a movie). I, personally, like using movies as tools. Today, it will fit in well with our discussion. (I'm really undecided about global warming. It could be true, but probably not to the extent that many believe). But it is a good example of how we are to care for the earth or there may be consequences. Of course, we've also discussed the Biblical implications of this from Genesis - that we are to have dominion over the earth. A good ruler is kind, not a tyrant (or even like the Once-ler in "The Lorax").

All in all, I do not think this is too bad of an assignment from a dedicated unschooler. We'll see what my professor thinks. :^)


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardi Gras

One of the moms from the unschoooling group had planned a fun Mardi Gras celebration today, but she had to cancel due to sickness. So Taliesin, Nathanael, and I had a fun celebration of our own. We researched a little about Mardi Gras online, made some Mardi Gras art, and then made our version of a king cake. Okay, so a king cake is not really German chocolate with cream cheese frosting, powdered sugar, and left-over Valentine sprinkles. But it was fun, anyway; and yummy! :^) After our creative endeavors, we played at the park for a while, then off to karate class. It was a fun day!


Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anyone Watching the Oscars?

Is anyone watching the Oscars tonight? I really never have, but I am interested to discover if Heath Ledger wins the Oscar for best supporting actor for his role as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Definitely rooting for him to. Too bad we don't have cable and I have to work tonight. :^) Oh, well, I've asked my brother to record it for me. If he does win, I'll have a video of this moment in history. :^)


Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oh, Sweeney...

... Todd, that is.

Kelsey and I have two anniversaries. One is our anniversary of being more than friends - the day we decided to take our relationship to the dating stage. That one is February 21. Our second anniversary is, of course, our wedding anniversary. That one is October 21. So, in case you hadn't guessed, we just celebrated our anniversary of being more than friends. And to celebrate in style, we went to our local community theater and saw one of my favorites - Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. It was fantastic! I loved it! I admit I had never seen the play before (other than church plays, this is the first play I've been to, in general); but I had seen the movie. It's definitely one of my favorite movies, and it's my favorite play, too. :^) Definitely an experience I'll never forget. Now I cannot wait to see another play - possibly this spring or summer. But I just know it won't be as good as Sweeney. :^)


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Making Oobleck (pictures)

Ah, here we go! Oobleck pictures!

Making Oobleck

Dr. Seuss fans will probably know what I mean when I say Taliesin and Nathanael made Oobleck today. First we read the story "Bartholomew and the Oobleck." We talked about some of the new words in the story - like "turret" and "page." They were very into this story - guessing what would happen next. So it was just natural to make oobleck after we read the story. They had so much fun. I wish I would have had some green food coloring in the house to make the oobleck green like it was in the story. And it would have been nice if it really would have dissolved simply by saying "I'm sorry," when clean-up time came. LOL. But it was definitely a fun day!

Our recipe for making oobleck: as much flour, water, and cooking oil as you can mix and mix and mash and mash.


P.S. For some reason, my blog is not allowing me to post a picture right now. I'll post those as soon as I can!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scaffolding (as in education, not construction work)

I love my college classes. They always have such interesting discussions going on. :^) This week, one of my discussion boards for my education class called for a success or failure story based upon the use of scaffolding in teaching. Scaffolding is, simply, teaching basics and building upon the basics. One of the other students posted about how scaffolding has been a successful technique employed by her son's piano teacher. That gave me an idea of how to present my argument. Here it is:

Shannon's post about scaffolding and piano lessons made me begin to think about my own music lessons - and the use of scaffolding, or lack thereof, by various music teachers. I remember when I was fourteen years old and began taking guitar lessons. My first guitar teacher (I say first, because there ended up being nine in all), asked my mom to by a level one guitar book. (I began in level one because I already had experience reading notes from playing the piano, so I skipped the primer level). I began playing note-by-note such songs as "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat." At my request, because I had taught myself a little about the guitar in the past year, he did begin showing me some open chords on the guitar as well. Things were going well. I quickly advanced to the level two book. Then my guitar teacher took a job in another city and I went to another teacher at the same store. She continued the scaffolding process where my first teacher had left off. More notes, moving string-by-string, with a few chords thrown in. After a month or so, she felt she was not spending enough time with her new baby, so she stopped teaching at this music store.

At this point, I moved to another music store and another teacher. I showed him the books I had been studying out of and asked if he could teach me using this (as this is what I was familiar with). He told me that he could, but he would like to teach me a little more about actual technique and theory. So he did. My first lesson there, I began actually playing the guitar. I was still learning the theory. I still knew the chords and notes. But I learned how to play the guitar - Johnny Cash style. I also learned how to "chicken pick" to add dimension to the songs I had been playing for the past few months. After a few months, he left, too. I went on to more and more guitar teachers; but, this time, I stayed with this music store. They still used scaffolding to a certain extent, but they went more with what I, as the individual musician, learned. I remember taking in cassette tapes to my guitar teachers and asking, "How do I play that lick?" I remember taking in my own songs and asking them what I should do at this or that part. In time, I learned not just notes and chords; but how to make my own chordal arrangements, how to improvise using modal theory, how to transcribe my own songs. Over the years, I would expand my musical interests to playing not only the guitar, but the banjo, the mandolin, and the bass. One of my favorite things was to record all of the instruments on a four-track recorder and mix them.

Perhaps the most ironic thing is that a few years later, after learning these stringed instruments, I decided to try my hand at the violin. I began taking lessons from a teacher at my favorite music store and loved it. Because he lived 90 miles away, he decided that it was not worth travelling back and forth to Salina. I was disappointed. He was an awesome "fiddle" player. At one point, he even travelled with his band to Nashville (I actually wrote their bio for them). So I talked with another teacher that I knew of that had taught in the public school system for several years and began taking lessons from him. He started me in on a more traditional approach, based more on scaffolding than my own interests and abilities. That did not last long. I only took from him for a few months and never have learned to play the violin.
I think what I mean by this scenario is that scaffolding is a useful technique. Of course, we have to learn the basics of something, oftentimes, before we can proceed to the next level. However, I believe, rather than sticking to a strict scaffolding approach; it is much more useful to follow the interests and abilities of each student.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Ooooh, I'm sore!

I joined a weightloss group that a friend from the unschooling group began. For the past couple of days, I've been doing some exercises, eating less, etc. Today, I walked for thirty minutes, then jogged a little, and exercised. Boy, am I sore tonight! LOL. It was pretty fun, though, because Taliesin and Nathanael got involved, too. Let me explain. I was walking around our backyard while they were playing this evening. Well, they saw me and decided to make a game out of it. Taliesin was a police officer who was trying to stop Nathanael and me from breaking the speed limit. Nathanael and I both got several tickets from police officer Taliesin. This led into Nathanael being a storm chaser. So we chased several tornados in our backyard to measure how big they were. It was very exciting! Wow! Even exercise is unschooling around here. :^)


Monday, February 16, 2009

Lowe's Build and Grow program

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentine's Day. We did! Our Valentine tradition for Kelsey and me include me getting him an orange rose and some kind of a purple flower that is available (it's been everything from irises to carnations). He always bakes me a Valentine cake. This has been our tradition since before we started dating. This year, Taliesin decided he also wanted a purple carnation for Valentine's day. Nathanael opted for a Valentine frog balloon.

Our Valentine's Day started with a trip to Lowe's for Taliesin to make a jewelry box through their Build and Grow program. It is a really neat project for kids. Nathanael also got a building kit, but he was more interested in playing than building. This was a first time there, so each got his own apron and safety goggles. And they each got a patch for this month's project -to sew on the apron. The next activity will be on Feb. 28. The kids will be building wooden race cars (even Nathanael is looking forward to that one!) Taliesin asks me everyday, "When do we go build the race cars?" Taliesin, now, just so you know, is an official construction worker!

After our building project, we headed to the 4-H meeting, then off to work for Kelsey and me. It was a nice but all-to-fast Valentine's Day. Next, Saturday, however, is an evening for Kelsey and me. It's our being more than friends anniversary - an anniversary of the day we decided to start dating. To celebrate, we're going to see the play version of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street at our community theatre. It should be fun!

Friday, February 13, 2009

Valentine's party #2

We were in such a rush today, I forgot to grab my camera before we went to our second Valentine party for the week. I wish I had pictures, but I don't. This one was with the regular homeschooling group here. It was more like what a public school Valentine party is like. Taliesin had fun. He's very much into arts/crafts (such as decorating the Valentine boxes). And then he found a fun pirate game that kept him entertained until the snacks and Valentine exchange. Nathanael, my active one, on the other hand was pretty miserable. He's been in an extremely active mood for the past few days, anyway. We've been working with his mood by making trips to the park and playing outside a lot. But today was just too much for him (especially considering he only had a twenty-minute nap as opposed to his usual two hour one). He was irritable and cranky; and, of course, I got comments like, "Is today a bad day?" I tried to explain that he just turned four, and he's active anyway, and he's tired today; but I'm not sure what people thought. Oh, well, I tried to explain. Sometimes I wonder why many do not understand. One of the moms doing the party made the comment, jokingly, that next year, they would just invite the girls instead of the boys (but this is the same mom who wanted to exclude the boys from a song/dance routine at another group that I posted about a couple of months ago). But at least Taliesin enjoyed himself. He did get frustrated with some non-working art supplies while making his Valentine box; but, other than that, he was fine. And Nathanael did enjoy looking at all of the Valentines he got when we got home. Nathanael's just not good with a lot of sitting down, structured time - especially when there are a lot of people around. But that's okay with me. We all learn differently. That's really what unschooling is about. :^)


Bible Interpretation

I just finished another college discussion board post for my inductive Bible study class. This assignment called for interpretation of and application to today's Christians of the following Passages: I Corinthians 7:25-28, Proverbs 22:15, I Corinthians 11:2-16, Numbers 18:21-32, and Deuteronomy 14:22-28. I'm sure my post will be a little controversial (especially over Proverbs 22:15); but this is what I wrote:

I believe in I Corinthians 7:25-28 Paul is addressing a specific question from the church in Corinth - a question that is just as relevant today as it was then. Is it better to marry or remain single? Paul answers this question with an honest answer - it is better to remain single and fully devoted to God than to marry and be devoted to both a spouse and God. However, there is no sin in marrying. I think today, so many churches look down on people who choose to remain single. They automatically try to start match-making. However, I do agree with Paul that there are so many more worries that a married person has that a single person may not. And, all too often, it is difficult for a married person (especially with children) to follow God's call upon their lives. I found this to be the case with my college. I began college classes prior to marriage and children. However, I had to stop after the birth of my first son. I just could not keep up. Now I am back in college and loving it! Now, this does not mean that I feel as though I should not have married and had children. I know that marriage and children were also a part of God's call upon my life. I believe this conflict is exactly what Paul is addressing - neither is wrong; but, if possible, it is better to remain single.

I believe Proverbs 22:15 is one of the misinterpreted Bible Verses there is. All too often, Christian people (I state Christians because usually it is a Christian who quotes the Bible to support a viewpoint) use this Verse and others mentioning "the rod" of correction as a reason to spank their children. However, a check in the concordance reveals that the Hebrew word sebet can be translated several ways - including discipline and guidance - and definitely not just as "rod." I, personally, believe guidance or even discipline would have been a much better choice than "rod." Ironically, sebet is the word used many times in Proverbs in controversial Passages dealing with child discipline. I believe, all too often, all too many Christians forget that God commands us to not exasperate our children with our methods, but to bring them up in the training of God (Ephesians 6:4). Matthew 18:1-6 reminds us that unless we become as a child, we will never see heaven; and that if one ever causes a child to turn from God, it is better that this person be drowned in the sea than to live. This particular Verse is a perfect example of why I believe sometimes we need to go beyond exegesis to search all of Scripture. All of Scripture is in harmony. Context does include the immediate surrounding Verses; but, oftentimes, we have to go beyond just the immediate surroundings to understand what God is trying to tell us.

I believe the surrounding Verses are important when interpreting I Corinthians 11:2-16. For instance, Verses 18-19 addresses the groups - the cliques - that have formed within the Corinthian church. Perhaps these cliques were formed because of doctrinal views - such as should a woman prophesy without a head covering. Although this is not as popular today as in time past, there are still many Christian churches that believe it is sinful for a woman to cut her hair. They do quote I Corinthians 11:15 as their reason. I do believe a woman's hair was given to her as a covering. And I have nothing against Christian women who choose not to cut their hair. There are many explanations as to why this Passage specifically says it is shameful for a woman to be shaved or shorn. Verse 10 states that a woman is to remain covered because of the angels. I remember reading somewhere (where exactly escapes me now) that this could refer to the sons of God in the Old Testament that are said to have cohabitated with the daughers of men - their union producing the Nephalim. That is a possibility. However, I, personally, believe this is more about culture. I also believe, in this Passage, Paul is addressing legalism. How is today's church the same as that of the Corinthian church? Do churches today have cliques? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. Are there doctrinal disputes? Of course, there are. Is there legalism? The unfortunate answer is yes. Should we allow a woman's short hair or a man's long hair to separate them from other Christians or to consider them less Christian? I do not think that we should. I believe hair style is a personal choice for each of us. We should not allow it to cause divisions - as it may have in the church in Corinth.

Numbers 18:21-32 and 14:22-28 deal with the important issue of tithing. All too often, this is the lesson we least like to hear about. I'm sure the people of the Old Testament had many of the fears that we have today - if we give even 10%, will we have enough to live on? But God is not a God of fear, but a God of promise. That said, I also believe that it is important to not only give of our money, but of our time and talents as well. The Bible is very specific that we are to use our talents for the Lord or what we have been given will be taken away. This being said, while I do agree that it is important to give to our church, I do not believe this is the only way to give of our tithes. When these Passages in Numbers and Deuteronomy were written, there was no church. These Passages state that we should give back to God. I remember a few years ago attending a church in which a sermon around Christmas time was on the subject of tithing. The pastor delivering the sermon said the following words almost verbatim, "This time of year, we get hit up by a lot of organizations. I have already been hit up by Billy Graham. I have already been hit up by prison ministries. But our tithe is to go to our local church family." In all honesty, this sermon seemed hypocritical to me. I had attended this church for over a year, and this pastor had never so much as said "hi, boo," or "get out of the way" to me. I honestly felt that when I saw him go to deathrow inmates and witness to people who were convicted of murdering others, then I would admit he had the right to say he had been "hit up" by prison ministries. Until then, I did not think he had earned that right. Now, I'm not saying he meant this sermon the way I took it. I hope and pray he did not. But that was the last time I attended this particular church. I believe my tithe could be used just as well with prison ministries as it could with a local church body. This is not to undermine the importance of giving to our church. I totally believe that we should give to our church. This is also something that I instill in my own sons. However, I believe God will reveal to us where we should give our time, our talents, and our money. As long as these are being used to further the cause of Christ, that, to me, is all that matters.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Who'da Thunk It?

This article is insinuating that children need playtime! Why, who would ever think something like that? That's just crazy!

Kandy - who is hoping you all realize I'm being sarcastic. Of course, children need playtime! I just wish more people would realize this!

What Does Unschooling Look Like?

We just ordered and received the t-shirts found at this link To me, these shirts really epitomize the unschooling philosophy. So I thought I would include some pictures from yesterday to show how our unschooling day went. The great thing about unschooling, as this blog shows, is each day is different and unique.

Taliesin and Nathanael had so much fun making volcanoes and tornados in the dirt yesterday afternoon. Then their construction equipment would help clean up the mess made by these natural disasters.
Taliesin's newest story. It reads, "It was Valentine's Day. This is the Valentine troll. He likes Valentine's Day. He played with a bouncing ball. He had a crab friend named Valentine. Big Hills. One hill exploded! They watched. Steam was coming out. It shot out candy!"

This just came today - our second Dr. Seuss collection I ordered from Today, we've read "The Zax," "Too Many Daves," "What Was I Scared Of?," and "Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book."


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Valentine's party #1

Valentine Streamers

Making Art

The Community Art Project: Taliesin made the top of this. Others quickly added balloons. It makes a lovely addition to our living room ceiling!

Making Cookies!
Today was so much fun for Taliesin and Nathanael. It was our Valentine's party for A Walk in the Park Unschooling Group. Two other families came to our house (some of our regular attendees at the unschooling events); and we had a fun time. It was not a typical Valentine's party - just so you know. The festivities began with making sack puppets. We then put Valentine sugar and chocolate chip cookies into bake, exchanged Valentine's, and then the kids made water balloons and popped them on a tree out in the backyard (an interesting science experiment, as well, to see which ones were easiest to pop). When the cookies were finished, the kids decorated them with red frosting and Valentine sprinkles. Then we headed down to the family room to eat them while watching Veggie Tales. The kids let me know that this was the best Valentine party they have ever been to. That's what happens when children are allowed to use their imagination!


Monday, February 9, 2009

Books and Bears

Today, Taliesin's and Nathanael's big collection of Dr. Seuss stories came in the mail. I love I was able to order this book, plus two smaller Dr. Seuss collections for the price I would have paid for just this one at the local bookstore. On the way to the park today, we read "The Lorax," "The Cat in the Hat," and "Yertle the Turtle." I'm sure we'll probably be reading a lot from this book in the near future (and I sense more unit study fun, too).
Yesterday, my sister brought over a make-a-bear kit that she picked up at Goodwill. Taliesin loves it! He's so excited to make his own teddy bear. It's turning out pretty cute! I'll post some pictures of the finished product as soon as it's finished.

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Hermeneutics is the branch of theology that deals with the interpretation of Scripture. My inductive Bible study class in college is a hermeneutical class. My textbook for the class is an eye-opening work entitled Grasping God's Word by J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays. I do agree a lot with what the authors state; but there are some things that just bug me about their interpretations. One of my most recent assignments for college was to discuss the topic of illumination of the Holy Spirit. With some of the things that have been occurring lately, I had to make this assignment personal - perhaps more personal that the authors of the textbook advocate. Some of you may be interested in this assignment, so I decided to share it here on my blog. This is what I wrote about illumination:

It has taken me a while to post in this thread, because I wanted to find exactly the right way to express what I believe about the important topic of illumination. First off, if I may begin by stating that while I do agree with the authors of the text on many issues; I think they are limiting God's work in some ways. Yes, I do agree that allegorical interpretation is not the best way to interpret Passages from either the Old Testament or the New. However, I also see nothing wrong with examples. There are even examples in the New Testament of what many believe are Passages from the Old Testament taken out of context. Paul Copan gives several exmaples in his book That's Just Your Interpretation, including this: "In Matthew 2, we read of how Herod had the boys of Bethlehem under age two put to death... Matthew cites this as a fulfilled prophecy of Jeremiah. Yet if we look at the context of Jeremiah's original quotation (Jer. 31:15), we see that Rachel's weeping refers to the Babyolonian invasion of Judah and its exile in 587/586 B.C. Jeremiah does not seem to predict that Herod would kill Bethlehem baby boys at all. How, then, should we interpret the New Testament understanding of 'prophecy' and 'fulfillment'?" (page 189). Copan goes on to list several reasons why there are Passages such as this example found in the pages of the New Testament. I, personally, believe that God used these Passages to help people understand. In the same way, I see nothing wrong with using an example in a sermon to drive home the message of the Gospel. Many pastors rely on examples from their own lives. Others rely on examples from Scripture. Just as Jesus used real examples, I think that is what many pastors do as well. I do not believe in or advocate an allegorical interpretation of Scripture; but I do believe that examples help people to understand more. Who is to say that the Holy Spirit has not guided these pastors to use these examples?

This leads us to the next point - specifically about illumination. Charles Ryrie writes in his book Basic Theology, "Two principal passages describe this ministry of the Spirit (John 16:12-15 and I Corinthians 2:9-3:2)... The experience of illumination is not 'by direct revelation.' The canon is closed. The Spirit illuminates the meaning of that closed canon, and He does so thorugh study and meditation. Study employs all the proper tools for ascertaining the meaning of the text. Meditation thinks about the true facts of the text, putting them together into a harmonious whole and applying them to one's own life. The end result of the illumination ministry of the Spirit is to glorify Christ in the life, or to promote healthy doctrine - teaching that brings spiritual health and wholeness to the believer's life. Illumination is not concerned merely with understanding facts but with using those facts to promote Christlikeness" (page 132).

I love this definition given by Ryrie. While I do agree with the authors of the textbook that we do need to understand the history behind the Passages found in Scripture to get a complete picture; I do also think that it is important to apply those Passages to our own life. Hebrews 4:12-13 reminds us, "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged swort, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughs and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God's sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account" (NIV). Just as Ryrie recommends, when we study and meditate on God's Word, the Holy Spirit will illuminate Passages for us. I can say from personal experience that God has never let me down in the area of illumination. A good example occurred several years ago. I was having some difficult times, and God led me to study the story of Jesus calming the sea for the disciples. The words that really jumped out to me were "Where is your faith?" Yes, the literal context of the story is Jesus calming the sea for the disciples who were literally scared they were going to die. But was it wrong to consider that the Holy Spirit led me to this Passage because I was having my own "storms"? Jesus spoke to me through this story, just as He spoke to the disciples. He calmed my emotional storm, just as He calmed their physical one. Right now, I can honestly say that I feel that I am in the midst of a spiritual battle - in more ways than one. I have felt this way for over a year. Through my own studies (and even this class), the Holy Spirit has illuminated several Passages of comfort and encouragement. He has reminded me that I should be anxious for nothing, but to pray and make my requests made known to God. He has encouraged me that when my will is lined up with God's will, that I can ask anything, and God will provide. I have been reminded that we do not fight against natural things, but against principalities and powers. No, my spiritual warfare is not the same as those of the early Christians. My circumstances are totally different. However, the Holy Spirit has illuminated to me, for my life, these Passages that also brought comfort and encouragement to the early Christians in their circumstances.

I think the most important thing to remember about illumination is that we need to allow God to guide us. To quote Ryrie once more, "Leading is a confirmation of sonship, for sons are led. This work of guidance is particularly the work of the Spirit. Romans 8:14 states it and the book of Acts illustrates it... This ministry of the Spirit is one of the most assuring ones for the Christian. The child of God never needs to walk in the dark, he is always free to ask and receive directions from the Spirit Himself" (page 440). I know that I, personally, am so thankful for the illumination of the Holy Spirit.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

McDonald's and Garth Brooks

Yesterday was a fun day, even though the car quit. Well, technically, it quit the day before yesterday. We went to Wal-Mart for more book shopping. When we came out to the car, it wouldn't start. Thankfully, it started a couple of minutes later, and we made it home. Then yesterday, we took it back to Wal-Mart for an oil change (it's been a while and thought maybe that was part of the problem); and they had to jump it to get it in. So we tried three different batteries, and none of them would work. So we're now under the impression it's either the starter or the alternator. So it's now sitting at the mechanic's waiting for Monday so we can see what's wrong with it (and how much it's going to cost to repair it).

But the fun thing that happened yesterday was our trip to McDonald's. Taliesin and Nathanael had happy meals. I had the wraps with no chicken. Kelsey had the chicken strips from the wraps. And Nathanael enjoyed rocking out to one of my old Garth Brooks cassettes as we sat in the car, eating. He's always loved Garth. I remember one trip to Wal-Mart (no, we really do not spend a lot of time there as this post indicates), when we walked passed the TVs in the electronics center and a Garth Brooks video was playing. He lay in his little carrier connected to the shopping cart (he was a heavy baby, so we needed a break from carrying him) watching Garth. He still enjoys him. :^) This trip to McDonald's was definitely a highlight of an otherwise tiring day.


Friday, February 6, 2009

The Reading Wars

I posted this on my college discussion board for an assignment called "The Reading Wars" - phonics-based vs. whole word concepts. I have not had any responses yet; but I'm eager to see what others have to say. Please note that this is written to those studying the field of education. When I refer to "teaching," it's actually "natural learning," which I have written about quite extensively in my classes. This is just a more structured class and I have write my assignments accordingly. :^)

I can honestly say that I used to be a big advocate of a phonics-based reading approach. I had seen the results - three and four-year olds that could read! My own sister ran a preschool years ago in which she taught the children to read using a strict phonics-based approach. In three years of grade school, I attended a Christian school that used the A Beka curriculum; and, also, their preschoolers learned to read! I felt that the results spoke for themselves. And, in fact, when we first began homeschooling Taliesin, I had plans to order this exact same phonics-based curriculum.

Then my thoughts changed. And it was nothing else than working with my son on a day-to-day basis that changed my mind. The more I truly watched him, paying attention to his educational needs rather than my own theories; the more I understood that a rigorous program was not for him. When we attended a homeschooling co-op, when he was four years old, in which the students were given a lot of seatwork; I realized that it was not just Taliesin who was frustrated with such activities. The boys, especially, became irritaed, grouchy, and wiggly as the class time wore on.

This year, Taliesin has really shown an interest in reading. We, however, are taking several different approaches. I see nothing wrong with kids learning their phonics sounds. I now, however, do not think phonics-based is the only, right way to learn. I advocate a blended approach, because I truly do believe that all children learn in their own way, in their own time. For Taliesin, learning to read has taken the form of Dora, the Explorer; Go, Diego, Go; and I Spy phonics readers; sight word readers from The Learning Company; a McGuffy's Primer; and any books and magazines that he is interested in. It also takes the form of reading street signs and store signs. It also takes the form of playing "I Spy" phonics games as we drive down the street. Learning to read also takes the form of writing our own stories and writing and drawing in a journal of our daily activities.

For Nathanael, my four-year old, learning to read takes the form of learning the sounds that the alphabet makes plus introducing all of the above activities that Taliesin enjoys.

I, therefore, have to conclude that there really is no right or wrong way to teach a child to read. Sometimes, depending on the child, phonics may be the best approach. At other times, sight words may be the best approach. It really depends on the child. I have noticed, in my experience, that girls oftentimes tolerate seat work better than boys. I think, all too often, traditional learning is tailored to children who can tolerate sitting at a table or desk for a good portion of the day. Such misconceptions on the part of the educator, I believe, are the only wrong approaches there are.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Lots'a Books

We've been book shopping. Every year at this time, we take some of our tax return money and buy all kinds of books to add to Taliesin's and Nathanael's library. So far this year, we have gotten four big books - a Miss Spider story book, Corduroy, and The Little Engine that Could, and Goodnight Moon. We have gotten a Squishy Fish book, complete with three squishy fish toys, a Yo Gabba Gabba book (one of Taliesin's favorites), a Wonderpets Count the Baby Animals book (one of Nathanael's favorites), a Marvel Heroes Mix and Match book, an earth and space book, a musical Mickey Mouse book, The Little Mermaid, and a wild animal book. I just ordered three Dr. Seuss collections from We'll also have a musical Wonderpets book coming as soon as they're in stock. This year, Taliesin and Nathanael are really into storybooks. Last year, they were interested in information books - you know, like spider books, insect books, dinosaur books. Their library is really growing!


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Recent Activities

These pictures are from Taliesin's and Nathanael's birthday party on Jan. 31 - at CiCi's Pizza. (If you look beside Nathanael on the bottom picture, you'll see "Penny" on the table).

The Cakes: Courtesy of Kelsey

Playing with Some of the Presents after the Party

Today, for the unschooling group, we started Amish friendship bread at our house. After all the mixing, the kids went outside to play.

If I had taken this from a different angle, you could see it better (without my shadow); but this is Nathanael's cat family - from left to right is "Peanut Butter" (one I picked up for him at the grocery store this morning while getting the ingredients for the Amish bread), in the middle is "Flower," and on the right is "Penny."

Fun Games (Yes, Taliesin was in his jammies).

Then on to the Park


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Flower's Found!!!!

My sister found Flower tonight! He was on top of a desk that everyone here has searched at least four or five times - inside and out. In the name of Jesus!


A Time for Faith

I have known for a while that my family is in the midst of a spiritual battle. For the past several months, Kelsey and I have both been having horrible, vivid dreams about our family - Nathanael, especially, and also Taliesin, to a certain extent. A few weeks ago, after one particularly stressful dream, I prayed. I thought back to Job and how everything was taken from him; but God had not allowed Satan to harm Job. So I prayed. I prayed that God would put a hedge of protection around my family - that nothing could physically harm any of my family, that my sons would remain protected. Maybe this sounds strange, but I believe Nathanael misplacing his favorite toy was a part of this. God has protected my sons. But everything is still in God's hands. I just have to learn to keep the control with Him - in all circumstances. God loves my children, my husband, me, my extended family, our friends - more than anyone else ever could. He's our Creator, our Protector, and our Savior. It's time for faith in Him.


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Haven't Dropped off the Planet

Stephanie, thank you for the post. We are not snowed in. It's actually been pretty nice here. I've just been spending all of my free time with Taliesin and Nathanael. This week, believe it or not, I even missed two college assignments. But right now Nathanael is going through a hard time, and he needs Mommy extra close. "Penny" did come! And he loves her very much! But he still misses "Flower." I told him yesterday that I believe we will find "Flower" eventually. And until we do, I believe that "Flower" has a special kind of angel watching over him - just because Nathanael loves him so much. But having "Penny" has really helped him a lot. And Nathanael even picked another cat from that he ordered to be "Penny's" friend. He's mainly having issues playing with his old toys - like his toy bulldozers. He would always sit "Flower" on top of them and have him operate the toy construction equipment. So right now, he doesn't want to play with them. But he's coming around slowly each day.

Yesterday was Taliesin's and Nathanael's birthday party; and I have some fun pictures to post. I should be able to get those pictures and some pictures of Nathanael and "Penny" posted tomorrow. :^)

God bless.