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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Art Resource: Roman Artifacts from the Louvre on tour

Roman artifacts from the Louvre will be in Oklahoma City for their final stop in the states from June 19th - Oct 12th. Even if you can't attend the website has some good educational downloads, online info, videos, and 40 or so of the 184 pieces for you to view online.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

GAFCON statement is published

For my Anglican friends - I'm sure you've been following GAFCON, but if not, here's the final statement from the bishops meeting in Jerusalem. I've not read it yet, but the word on the 'net is that it is strong and committed to the long-haul solution rather than a "quick" split.

Peter Piper's Picks: June 28

Homeschool Launch: a great place to gather and share wonderful homeschool files (created by other homeschoolers!). HT: Jimmie

How to visit a museum with kids - some really good advice here.

Prayers for your personality type (what a hoot!) (HT: PalmTreePundit) FYI - I'm INFJ.

Oh, he's just so funny and so on target: The Judgement Olympics from Stuff Christians Like.

Here's the Daily Office (for the Anglican church) RSS Feed - you can load that right to your Google homepage!

My print out and dig in for the week: Practice Makes Perfect: At What Cost Humanity?, a look at bioethics today and a review of 3 current books on the subject. (HT: First Things blog)

Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Who would have thought poor punctuation and plodding prose could be so absorbing? But in Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road it is. Don’t be misled, the poor punctuation and plodding prose are not mistakes, but techniques which convey the mood of the story in The Roadand enhance the story-telling. And while the story lumbers along, McCarthy’s poetic descriptions of a post-apocalyptic landscape gives one the sense of walking along with the father and son protagonists.

The setting is America after some great catastrophe which has left behind an entirely scorched, physically and psychologically, land. Very few people have survived and those that have struggle to survive both the environment which is utterly devastated and the roaming bands of marauders.

The father and son slowly make their way to the coast where they hope to find … Hope. They don’t know what the form of that Hope will be, but their love for each other keeps them moving.

Within the story, McCarthy’s simplistic third-person, prose style is so (I hate to use the term) monotonous (in a good way!) that when he alters this style (switching briefly to the 1st person in one scene and in others using an almost poetic style) he draws attention to particular parts of the story. These parts are so entirely different they almost scream out from the page.

Here’s an example. Imagine pages and pages (180 to be exact) of this:

They went through the last of the cars and then walked up the track to the locomotive and climbed up to the catwalk. Rust and scaling paint. They pushed in to the cab and he blew away the ash from the engineer’s seat and put the boy at the controls. The controls were very simple. Little to do but push the throttle lever forward. He made train noises and diesel horn noises but he wasnt (sic) sure what these might mean to the boy. After a while they just looked out through the silted glass to where the track curved away in the waste of weeds. If they saw different worlds what they knew was the same. That the train would sit there slowly decomposing for all eternity and that no train would ever run again.

Can we go, Papa?
Yes. Of course we can.”

(Then it launches into this – the first of a handful of these poetic moments)

They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterns. The first he’d seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all the stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land…the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.”

Then back to the simple prose for another 80 or so pages. Does that make the simple prose sound boring? It really isn't - the characters and the story are remarkable!

There are some distressing scenes in this book, so be warned. The food has run out in this world and you can imagine the result.

But there is good and hope and redemption even in this most evil, hopeless, and lost world. Truth and beauty have somehow managed to stay alive in the hearts of some; the father and son call it "the fire", I call it faith.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From my Commonplace Book - June 25th

Last night I read a thought-provoking article from the blog Mere Orthodoxy entitled "Music and the Soul". I'm not going to elucidate too much mostly because I've not had time to really give this more thought than that I want to think about it (how do you like that...I've thought that I want to think - that's sheer brilliance right there), and also because it is almost kiddies' bedtime, but I am curious what some of you might think.

Here are the entries I made into my Commonplace Book from this post....

...human beings have generally lost the perception that we live in a hierarchical universe...(a hierarchy of the Holy Spirit, one's own spirit, the mind [thinking, feelings, will], and the body).

...human beings today do not first respond by asking questions about their spirit or thinking, but mostly always about their emotional and states of will.

Everything is reduced to the level of the ordinary...defined principally in terms of states of feeling and will. - the above was quoted in the post from a Dr. Overman.

From the rest of the article:

Christian love...enables men to think of themselves as something other than a bundle of emotive staes and corresponding impulses; it restores the dignity of being a spirit-and-flesh being in communion with God.

Rather than viewing worship as being an emotional expression, and limiting one's self to emotive music devoid of intellectual and spiritual expressions, the Christian ought to respond to God with the totality of his being.

When it comes to the music that we use to worship God, then, we must not first ask ourselves, "What kind of music do I like?"...but rather, "What music best expresses the full heart of a complete human being to God?

...starting with the question, "What does it mean to be human?" and then moving from this answer to explore the sorts of music most appropriate to human beings in communication with God is a far cry from the common complaint that certain forms of music don't arouse our emotions...

I didn't add this to my Commonplace entry, but I loved how the author ended the article:

The answer to this question might also leave everybody a bit surprised—the hymnodists as well as the hip members of your church praise and worship team.

So, what does it mean to be a human and how do we then answer the question, "What then should we sing?"

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Art Resource: Master Photographers

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is featuring two photography exhibits this summer:

Framing a Century: Master Photographers 1840-1940 now through Sept. 1st and Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960 now through Oct. 1st. Both exhibits offer images for online vieweing.

You might also enjoy some of the links the Met suggests for photography. Here are some I found particularly interesting:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Peter Piper's Picks: June 21st

A useful and interesting article from Slate: How we read online. There are some great tips for bloggers (and other online publishers) for making your articles more easily readable.

The 100 Things Challenge has been sending out some ripples in bloggyland.

A good *snicker* at the expense of my church.

I'm posting this guide to packing efficiently for my own benefit. And really, if George Clooney calls for dinner, I'll go buy the extra outfit. :)

How about a good nap? Know how to get the most out of your sleep schedule.

My print out and dig into for this week: The New Learning That Failed.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekly Reporter: June 16th-20th

Our summer schedule had some bumps and jostles the past couple of weeks, so we are finding ourselves "punting" quite a bit. (MiL had unexpected surgery which meant no trip with eldest son and hubby spent a week at her house helping her. Then I had a 3-day, all day class - which was planned, but harder on our family than expected.) So, after two weeks of "just trying to get by" we are slowly getting back on track.

We are planning on taking all of July off, but I do have some work to do the next couple of weeks with my eldest - mostly Math. And there are some lessons I want to do with the kids that I'll keep doing even when we are "off" (mostly art).

This we accomplished:
  • The first lesson of our art appreciation unit;
  • A Saxon math placement test (to see what the eldest son needs to work on before we move him up to 8/7 next year);
  • Eldest son tried his hand at making a cheesecake;
  • Youngest daughter spent lots of time drawing pictures of Jesus, her feet, flowers, etc.;
  • We went on a nice long nature walk;
  • Built a few forts;
  • Eldest son finished reading "War of the Worlds" and then we watched the movie (I enjoyed the movie's message about technology, humanity, and fatherhood, but be warned there is some cursing - and some of the imagery might be disturbing to some children.)
  • Middle son has started the read-aloud "Gentle Ben" with his Dad.
How was your homeschool or summer school week?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Art Resource: My Lesson Plan for French Impressionism

Would you like to have a ready-made lesson plan to study French Impressionism in your homeschool? I put this together using the National Gallery of Art's FREE Loaner: "Picturing France", an educator's resource packet. (Scroll down that page to order the entire packet including prints, slides, a CD and the book - it is free, you only have to pay for the return postage.)

Here's a photo of my daughter enjoying the first day of Unit 1 from my French Impressionism lesson plan. She decided she wanted to try drawing a picture like Pissaro's:

From the lesson plan, we talked about how point of view can change a scene. We experimented with this using our dining room:

We also talked about the details of the painting, the color and lighting, how we'd change the picture to make it look like afternoon, how the street might look different if it were painted from a diferent angle, and what would be different if the painting was done today.

Let me know if you download the lesson plan...and what you think of it! (If you have any trouble downloading, leave me a comment and I'll be happy to email it to you.)

Monday, June 16, 2008

The Commonplace Blog

Last week, I attended our area Classical Conversations Parent Practicum, which was wonderful, by the way. Unlike many attendees, my children did not attend with me. This meant that during the lunch break, I was blessedly ALONE. (I know all moms enjoy alone time, but trust me when I say homeschool mothers enjoy it the most!) I packed a light lunch and some good reading, which for me was the May 2008 “First Things” journal.

While the weather was pretty hot, I was able to find a shady spot in the grass that caught a little of the passing breeze. It was just lovely to sit and nibble and read. That one hour of break was more time than I’ve had in a long time to focus on simply reading and thinking – outside of school, family or house-related subjects in some time. (Which made me realize how desperately I need to carve that time out on a regular, even if not frequent, basis.)

The first article I read was by Alan Jacobs who is a professor of English at Wheaton College. He wrote a fun and intriguing piece on the blog as a commonplace book. One of my favorite bloggers (unfortunately she’s no longer blogging, but her blog is still a great source of wisdom and wit) often featured “Commonplace Book” posts, so this idea is not particularly new to me. However, the article helped me think a little more deeply about my blogging – why I started, why I continue, where I want to go in the future.

Mr. Jacobs describes a Commonplace book as a place where one records “memorable ideas, wise sayings, or beautiful lines of poetry – words of rare value, distinctive enough that we dare not trust them only to our memories.” He tells us that the Commonplace book came into practice during the 16th century as the printing press gained steam as a way to deal with the seeming deluge of print material (imagine what they'd think of today's deluge of print!). The wealthy “found themselves … with access to more books than they could read, or at any rate read with care” these books became a popular way to “select the best and wisest passages from those books.”

Doesn’t that sound familiar? Jacobs sees great similarities in the impetus for many blogs, especially, if you look to the first weblogs which were “simply a log of interesting stories” discovered on the Web. However, he recognizes that most blogs now have another component: the online journal. (In fact, most of the blogs I read are more online journals with some interesting links thrown in, too.)

In the past year, I’ve drifted a bit more to the links emphasis rather than the journal emphasis. It doesn’t take as much of myself to list links, which makes for easy content for a busy homeschool mom. While I’ve no intention of abandoning that aspect (I love sharing what I find!), I do want to make sure I’m not neglecting one of the initial desires that brought me to blogging, the journaling!

At the end of the article, Jacobs launches a good challenge for bloggers or commonplace book keepers:

“The task of adding new lines and sentences and paragraphs to one’s collection can become an ever tempting substitute for reading, marking, learning and inwardly digesting what’s already there. And wisdom that is not frequently revisited is wisdom wasted.”

Perhaps the journaling (about those linked-to articles), is one way to revist wisdom.

What about your blog? Do you tend to have more of an online journal or a links blog…or do you walk the via media between the two? How do you revisit wisdom on your blog?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Art Resource: Online Art History Timeline

Here is a very useful tool to help you bring Art History into your homeschool from the Metropolitan Museum of Art - a Timeline of Art History. This website is SO much more than just a timeline, however. You'll find:
  • A great map which shows the progression of art across the world. At a glance, you can see what types of art was being produced in across the continents and centuries.
  • Pages showing the art of a particular time period and across cultures. (ie. you can see all the types of art being produced in the 16th century from Asia to Africa)
  • As well as pages showing the art of a particular culture across the centuries.
  • Thematic essays on subjects from "Chinese Hand Scrolls" to "The Labors of Hercules" to "The Bauhaus".

This website would make a great research resource for the older student as well as you, the teacher!

Peter Piper's Picks - June 15th

The weather is turning hot - time to start planning for next school year, BUT WAIT! Before you do that shouldn't you get last year's school organized, filed, and put away? According to Dianne, you should; and she is going to help you get started.

So, once you are done planning for next year you need some fun summer stuff to do, right? Here's a great list of 20 Frugal or Free things to do this summer.

It is summer and it is HOT. Do you ever wonder if going to church on a HOT summer day is worth all the trouble?'s what one pastor has to say about it.

In case you've not heard - Spunky's back!

Modern-day Barbarians or worse?

Thomas Edison has something to say about blogging.

This is going to be my "print out and dig into" article for this week: The Sadness of Higher Education (HT: Sarah Hey at StandFirm)

Friday, June 13, 2008

The Big 10 zero, zero, zero!

Well, my 10,000th visitor slipped right on by me today! Oh, darn I'd planned to have confetti. LOL!
This blog has been such fun for me and I hope you've gotten some good information out of it, too.
Since I started this blog I:
To mark reaching 10,000 visitors, I thought we could enjoy a little Q&A. I'll ask you a few questions and you can ask me a few questions. What do ya think? Ok, I'll start...

How did you first find my blog?
What would you like to see more of?
Are you a drop-in reader or a subscribed reader (via RSS or email)?

And just for fun...
What book (books) are you currently reading?

Leave your answers and questions in the comments...and thanks for helping me to celebrate!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Got Spinach?

We are still getting greens, including spinach, here in North Carolina. In fact, I had a couple pounds in my outside fridge getting mighty close to being seaweed. I needed to use it and QUICK!

I determined to use it in quiche, but not having time or the inclination to make a bunch of pie crust, I opted for a different approach. Instead of making the whole quiche, I mixed up the filling and just froze that. Now, when I'm ready for quiche all I have to do is thaw the filling, pour into a fresh crust, and bake!

So here's the recipe I used:
4 eggs
1 c half and half
4 c. of fresh spinach
1/2 c of swizz cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Slightly wilt spinach by steaming for 5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water. Cool slightly.Whisk eggs until blended, then add half and half and whisk further. Stir in cheese and spinach. Pour mixture into freezer bag (this is easiest if you set your bag in a deep bowl). Squeeze out excess air and lay on a flat surface to freeze. (I put my bags onto a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer.

Once frozen I removed the cookie sheet and the bags are flat and store nicely.) I made 3 batches of this and can't wait to try it out!What are some of your favorite spinach recipes?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Almost to 10,000 visits - Time To Celebrate!!!

Ok, friends, I'm only 195 visitors away from 10,000! (Can I tell you how surprising that is to me?) I really try not to pay too much attention to the sitemeter (other than to check to see what's interesting to visitors), but reaching 10,000 is admittedly exciting. :)

So, how to celebrate...hmmm - any ideas?

  • What about a blog scavenger hunt?
  • One of my blog friends, Jeanne - from At A Hen's Pace, allowed her visitors to ask any question they wanted then she answered them...ALL.
  • Maybe a contest and give away?

What do you think?

YUM-O! A new book to help the family cook!

What a great idea - a cookbook designed for families to use together! Of course, with a title like "YUM-O" - you know it has to be Rachel Ray!

Some features are:
  • A sidebar with each recipe with ideas for how “The Itty-Bitties” can help (by beating eggs, squeezing spinach dry, mixing dry ingredients etc.);
  • A section devoted to “rollover dinners” which allow you to cook once and eat twice (or more) with some quick variations;
  • Other sections devoted to breakfasts and lunches and snacks.
Sounds great doesn't it? Want your own? Well, you can order via this link:

or go to 5 Minutes for Mom and enter the contest to WIN a copy! The contest is part of their "Creative Summer Days" going on June 10-18th. Go check out the fun!

Help with Grocery Pricing Comparisons

Do you find it as difficult as I do to remember what is a good price for a can of soup, box of plastic baggies, or bottle of apple juice? I get in the store and the numbers all start to swirl together. I really want to be a wise shopper taking advantage of good sales and avoiding overspending, so I made myself a Grocery Comparison Chart.

You could get the prices from old receipts or walking through the store, but I found that using an online grocery shopping service through my local grocery store was fast and easy. I searched for the items I wanted to include on my list (things I buy pretty regularly) and then found the best price per unit for each item. I noted the item, cost per item, unit size (for better comparison shopping) and the brand name, if needed.

Then I compiled this list and printed it on card stock and slid it into a page protector.

Now I can take this page with me anywhere and I don't have to worry about it getting wet or mangled. My hubby recommended taking a wet erase marker along on shopping trips to mark down any changes (or better deals).

We tried the list out on our last trip to Costco - it was very helpful! I could easily see how much we might save at Costco on some items. And I found that the grocery store had better prices for some items I'd not expected!

This Grocery Comparison Chart really WORKS FOR ME! Want some more great ideas - check these out!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Peter Piper's Picks - June 8th

From the UK's DailyMail (and HT: Mere Comments): Can modern technology change our brains? What are the implications for the future?

Are you an amateur educator? I am, and proud of it. So is Dana. But the question she's really tackling is whether or not we have the right to be amateur educators.

Here's a nifty little gadget for those of us who are verbally-inclined.

Oh, and photos to let yourself get distracted by. I think she is a Finnish traveler in France.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Maria Callas, O Mio Babbino Caro

We were watching Mr. Bean and my kids wanted to know what the opera song is that he lip synchs. The song is "O Mio Babbino Caro".

Of course, Maria Callas' version is the best...thought you might enjoy it, too.

One of my favorite homeschool mom bloggers, Dana, has a new project that I'm SUPER excited about: a Homeschool Talk Show podcast! The shows start in July, so keep an eye on her blog for more information. And if you'd like to participate, drop her a line via her "Contact" form.

June - Recipe Swap Box

It's time for delicious recipes at Randi's blog, i have to say! Check out this month's Recipe Swap Box - lots of good stuff there.

I submitted some of my favorite summer recipes:

Bok Choy

Blissful Baba Ganoush

Zucchini Garden Chowder

Summer Squash Bake

Friday, June 6, 2008

Family Bible Study Curriculum

As a homeschooler, wouldn't you love to find a curriculum that allowed your entire family to study the Bible together?

About two weeks ago, I got an email asking about an Anglican curriculum for homeschool. To my knowledge there isn't something like that, but I think until somebody comes up with that, we can make do with some good resources and lists.

While searching for some resources, I stumbled on to this bible study curriculum that provides instruction for the entire family on the same scripture. It is ideal for a homeschooling family AND their statement of faith is acceptable to an Anglican.

The Bible study is by Explorer's Bible Study. From their website:

Explorer’s Bible Study is an interdenominational ministry with headquarters located 35 miles west of Nashville in Dickson, Tennessee. Tom and Nellie Constance founded the Bible study in 1972. They did not set about to begin a Bible study ministry but saw a need, and being obedient to God’s call, sought to fill that need.

Mrs. Constance helped establish and teach a Bible Study Fellowship (BSF) class for 10 years. During that time, she saw the power and effectiveness of this wonderful study method. There were many members of the class who were
traveling over 60 miles each way to attend the Bible Study. These women approached Mrs. Constance and asked if she would be willing to write similar curriculum to have available in their communities. The need for in-depth study materials for use in smaller towns and communities where BSF was not available
became the driving force for what would become Explorer’s Bible Study.

You can see sample pages, but even better than that you can download an entire 30-week lesson for each age level (pre-k to adult) and get started right away - FREE!

Classical Conversations - History Lessons - Cycle 3

If you have come to this page looking for the History lesson plans for Classical Conversations cycle 3, you've come to the right place!  Sadly, the file is no longer here.  Previously, I had only posted the first semester and have since lost the file in a computer crash.  But a re-working was in order anyway!

I hope to have the file updated and ready for anyone interested before too long.  Previously, I'd included reading suggestions for each week.   I won't be including that this time as CC has a GREAT suggested reading list.  I highly recommend you review that (most of my suggestions were from that list anyway).

So, check back or subscribe!  I'll update this page and probably post a new page, too.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

32 seconds that will touch your heart

So, I posted about the NBC Today show contest snafu a couple of weeks ago. Well, here's a company that GETS IT.

Pearle Vision - thanks for getting it.

Frugality links - and THANK YOU!

I've got a few links on frugal living to share with you, but first I want to say "THANKS" to:

Jessica (a fellow Anglican, who just had twins and has a lovely blog),
Annie (who I suspect is Anglican or atleast really loves the Church Year and has an adorable family of 6),
Emily (who has great photos of her garden and is also an Anglican...and lives in two states, but not at the same time!), and
Anne (an Anglican, clergy and clergy-spouse - and blogs about her family, church, and good food).

These ladies shared some great leads on frugal websites and resources. (The polls aren't closed - if you've got some good resources, please share!)

I'm sorry I didn't get back to this subject sooner, but we had some crazy moments in the past week. My MIL had to cancel a much anticipated trip to Sweden with our eldest son (12) (she was born there and was taking him to visit relatives he's never met) when it was discovered that she has hydrocephalitis. We've been on the phone quite a bit and making plans to get her condition taken care of, so not much time for blogging. (FYI - she is just out of surgery to place a shunt, hubby is with her right now)

Anyway - as I perused the sites you dear ladies suggested, I also found some others:

Frugal Mom, Frugal Living

Hillbilly Housewife

Fractured Frugal Friends

Each of these sites has lots of ideas, resources, and other links. I'll post more as I find them...and any ideas I decide to try out! In fact I have one I'd like to post, but I think I'll save that for another post. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

An important article for Christians

Since our departure from the Episcopal Church in November of 2007, I've made a commitment to myself to avoid becoming engrossed with the goings-on in that body. Now, I'm still an Anglican, so I can't totally ignore it, but I don't read the blogs with near the fervency I once did.
However, the situation in the Episcopal Church is the canary in the coal mine. Christians of all denominations (or non-denominations) are wise to pay attention to the bigger issues here.

Today, I was catching up on some blog reading and came across this series of articles by Matt Kennedy from StandFirm. I've not read the entire series, yet, but I am recommending it to you after reading only the first four paragraphs. Don't let the "anglican" label throw you off - this really is important stuff for all Christians to be paying attention to.

The series is from two lectures he presented to the LCMS Atlantic District Pastors' Conference entitled: "Mere Christianity in a Pluralist World" and is divided into four posts: One Two Three and Four.

If you are like me and find it difficult to read lengthy articles on the computer screen, you can scroll to the bottom of the post and select "Printer-Friendly". Also, continue looking for the audio versions on Stand Firm.

Art Appreciation Resource: Online Tour - Frescoes

The National Gallery of Art has an online tour this month of the ONLY examples of Italian Renaissance frescoes in America. If you can't get there to see them, here's the next best thing!Each frescoe has an accompanying narrative (the set is a series telling the story of Cephalus and Procris from Greek mythology) as well as other background information.

Interested in a different online tour? Here's their list of available tours.

The NGA website is an absolute goldmine of resources. Spend some time digging around and you'll be amazed at what you find!