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Saturday, August 30, 2008

Farmer's Market Report - Aug 30th

Did you go to the farmer's market this week? What did you bring home? Come on over and tell us all about your trip. The Farmer's Market Report is up at To Every Meal a Season.

Peter's Piper Picks - Aug 30th

Some people think images like these make us seem so small and life pointless, but as a Christian they lead me to marvel at the love of God to care about so small a creature. And if He, the God who created ALL this, cares about us, then our lives are anything but pointless....

Back in June I posted a link to a fun online software called "Wordle" which takes text and turns it into "word art". I jut thought it was fun and might be used to make fun cards or something, but over at Chartwell Academy they have taken excerpts from their literature lessons and used Wordle to make some wonderful "posters" for their homeschool classroom. What a great idea - go check it out!

Ever wonder about Kermit the Frogs abilities? Really, is he better at being green or playing the banjo? Here is a very humorous blog called "GraphJam" that will answer that question and many more. There lots of funny, funny, FUNNY graphs to peruse. I promise you'll laugh! Warning: there is some crass humor and bad language with some of the graphs. HT: The Evangelical Outpost

We all have bad days...and the saying goes it isn't what happens, it is how you respond that matters. Here are some suggestions to consider when you are having one of those days. Dig around the rest of the website, it looks interesting (Christian Personal Finance).

Ever need some inspiration for you or your kids? Try the Imagination Prompt Portal.

And this is absolutely ingenious - so smart, so awesome! Clean water pulled from a well by playing children. You must check this out!

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Friday, August 29, 2008

Weekly Reporter - Aug. 29th

I'm proud to day that we managed to get 4 days worth of school work (just the basics - math, phoncis, grammar, handwriting, literature, classics) done in 3 days. Why 3 days, well, we had company coming - and I'm no good at getting school done with company in the house.

This week we started reading our Classics rotations for my Grammar students with D'Aulaire's "Greek Myths". We also started "The Story of Dr. Doolittle". Math and phonics have been just chugging along.

I'm amazed at the change I've seen in my middle boy. He has been our late-bloomer as far as school goes. He's very smart and creative, but has found school work very frustrating. Often school with him takes all my energy and I'm left with little when it is time to teach the other two. However, we seem to have turned a corner! He seems to have made a HUGE leap forward over the summer. In the past, math facts have eluded him (he can add anything...but memorizing and quickly doing math based on memorized math facts frustrated him), but now he's zipping right through fact practice worksheets!

Hubby and I both agree that this is going to be an AMAZING year for him. He's still doing 2nd grade work in math and reading, but I have a feeling I'll be zipping through the work with him this year and we'll find him ready for 4th grade in no time.

I think our late-bloomer is about to become a ROSE!

Our eldest son will be back from his trip to Sweden on Monday evening. I'll try to post with pictures as soon as I can!

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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

A Shunning

A few years ago I read some of the books by Beverly Lewis (like: The Shunning (Heritage of Lancaster County)) set among the Amish people of the middle 20th century. I was familiar with the Amish and had a vague understanding of their customs and beliefs, but I learned quite a bit more reading a few of these. Not great literature, but interesting stories.

One thing I learned about that I knew nothing was the pracitice of "Shunning". From what I remember, if a baptized (baptism happens as adults) member of the Amish community makes a decision that is counter to Amish customs or belief, they can be "shunned". The shunning means the rest of the community (including all family) are not to have ANY communication with the shun-ee. I'm sure the fear of shunning helps keep most of the Amish on the straight and quite narrow way they've chosen (as does a desire to please God).

Do you think this sounds a bit harsh? A bit manipulative? Lacking in Christian Grace and freedom in Christ?

What if I told you there were other groups of Christians who did pretty much the same thing not based on their religious beliefs or practices, but on their educational choices? Would you believe me?

What if I told you that homeschoolers sometimes do this to others who have been committed homeschoolers but have chosen to send their children to public or private school?

Well, can I say that I was suprised, and yet not surprised, when I heard that this had happened to a friend of mine? She was a VERY committed homeschooler, but her family (led by her husband) decided to send their children to public school a year ago. I don't know all the reasons why, but they are their children and it is their choice to make. Apparently, she noticed pretty quickly that she was "dropped" as a friend by a few of her close homeschool friends (or is that "friends"?).

At the end of the year, this friend and her husband decided that homeschooling was best for their family after all (or at least for now) and they are planning on homeschooling again this year. Oddly, and much unlike the Amish, these "friends" have continued to shun her!

I don't know which makes me angrier - that they shunned her in the first place or that they continue to shun her. It all sounds quite graceless, loveless and legalistic to me.

Seems to me that as homeschoolers we should be all about supporting FREEDOM of CHOICE in schooling - unless we aren't actually interested in freedom, but more interested in being homeschooling purists/perfectionists. Good Gravy - save us from ourselves!

Have you seen or experienced this within your local or online homeschool community?

Last fall, I ran across an excellent series of articles that certainly speaks to this issue called "The Curse of the Standard-Bearer". I've seen this curse running through the homeschool community and was swayed a bit by it - more than a bit, sadly. It can affect they way we parent, the way we educate, the way we behave, and the way we love others - all negatively. I encourage you to read at least the first article (I doubt you'll be able to stop there).

After recognizing this in myself (through reading this and a few other situations that contributed to this awareness), I feel like I am much freer to be myself IN CHRIST. And freer to love others as they are IN CHRIST.

While I don't agree, necessarily, with all the reasons the Amish might choose to shun a member, I do know that as Christians there is a time to seperate ourselves from those who have chosen not to repent from a habitual and grave sin. However, I do not think you can make an honestly biblical case that sending your child to school is a sin and certainly not one over which to seperate ourselves.

Not wanting to leave you with the impression that I have a beef with the Amish, here is a simple explanation of the practice. Notice the reason they give for shunning is to encourage a quick repentance in the straying member:

Do the Amish practice shunning fellow church members?

The term "church members" means those who are baptized as adults and voluntarily commit themselves to a life of obedience to God and the church. Yes, those who break their baptismal vows are shunned by the Old Order Amish. Belonging is important and shunning is meant to be redemptive. It is not an attempt to harm or ruin the individual and in most cases it does bring that member back into the fellowship again. Actually, the number of members excommunicated and shunned by the Amish is small.

The Biblical basis for shunning is found in these two verses:
But now I have written unto you not to keep company, if any man that is called a brother be a fornicator, or covetous, or an idolater, or a railer, or a drunkard, or an extortioner -- not even to eat with such a one (I Corinthians 5:11)

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and of fences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. (Romans 16:17)

The families of a shunned member are expected to also shun them. Families shun the person by not eating at the same table with them. The practice of shunning makes family gatherings especially awkward.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Carnival of HS - Aug 26

This week's Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Life Nurturing Education and the theme is Woman's Independence Day. (Did you know women got the vote in America on this day in 1920?) Lots of REALLY great posts - don't miss it.

Simple Woman's Daybook - Aug 25

You can find out more about the Simple Woman's Daybook here. I'm a day late, I don't know how I forgot this yesterday.

For today, August 26th, 2008

Outside My Window... it is warm, drizzly and green

I am thinking ... how surprisingly perfect the weather is for my birthday - makes me want to curl up with a good read.

I am thankful for... thoughtful friends and family who've called or emailed me today.

From the kitchen ... I'm keeping it simple today by defrosting a quiche for dinner.

I am wearing ... a new vibrant blue scarf jauntily tied around my hips like a swashbuckler. Heh, I just wanted to say "swashbuckler" and "jauntily" - is that a word?

I am creating ... a crocheted baby blanket for our to-be-adopted daughter. I started it a couple of months ago and, as usual, put aside briefly...which turned into not so briefly. Time to pick it back up.

I am going ... to finish "Gilead" today, finally!

I am reading ... getting ready to pick back up the book "In Defense of Food".

I am hoping ... my mom gets to come for a visit on Thursday. She's in a very tough season right now and I enjoy having her come here to get away from the stress of her everyday life.

I am hearing ... Hubby on the Wii Fit, children and friends enjoying some cookies.

Around the house... oh, the laundry is piling up as usual, but it's my birthday, so it'll just have to wait!

One of my favorite things... is my new prayer beads given to me by (and hand made by) my dear, dear friend and neighbor (known here as DN - or DDN - hehehe).

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

  • Putting the "final touches" on our school plans for the year. I'm almost done!!

  • Laying some stepping stones to my new compost bin area.

  • Getting out for a "date night" with hubby sometime this week or weekend.

  • After the school plans are done, I plan to start on our landscaping plans (we have a date set for mid-September to spend a week getting some major yard projects done).

Here is picture thought I am sharing:

My kids all crammed in the back of the van as we drive to the airport to drop off big brother (in the middle) and my Mother-in-Law for their trip to Sweden.

DD said, "I almost cried when we watched him walk into the airport, but I had to hold it in!" We miss him, but have heard from him by email and he's having a WONDERFUL time.

We miss you Doodlebug!

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Menu Plan Monday?

I used to participate in the OrgJunkie's Menu Plan Monday on this blog, but have moved it over to my food-focused blog: To Every Meal a Season . Come on over and see what's cookin'!

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Mexican Chicken Salad

This is great to have when you've got leftover chicken from the grill or from a roast.

Here is the recipe from Southern Living:

4 c chopped cooked chicken
2 c shredded sharp Cheddar

Use what you like of these:
2 T chopped green pepper
2 T chopped sweet red pepper
1 16 oz can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained
1 4.5 oz can of chopped green chilis
1 med. onion, chopped

1/2 c sour cream
1/2 c mayo
1 pkg (1.25 oz) taco seasoning mix

Or use your favorite oil and vinegar dressing.

Corn chips
Shredded iceburg or romaine lettuce
2 med tomatoes, coarsely chopped
2 med avocadoes, coarsely chopped (skin and remove pit, of course)
1 can (2 1/4 oz) sliced ripe olives, drained

Combine the first 7 ingredients (or of those, what you want to use). Set aside.

Use the dressing of your choice (mix ingredients for Dressing 1 together). Pour over chicken mixture; toss gently, cover and chill.

Place corn chip on a plate; top with lettuce. Spoon chicken mixture onto lettuce. Top with tomato, avocado and olives. Serves 8.

When I made this I made only 2 servings. I used the oil and vinegar dressing and just poured it all over the salad rather than mixing and chilling. :) I'm never one to follow a recipe, but I figured I'd give you the "official" recipe then let you adapt it.

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Figs with Goat Cheese and Balsamic

I heard about this somewhere recently - darn, wish I could remember so I could give a link. (If you recognize this recipe and posted it recently, let me know and I'll link to you!) Anyway - we tried it and it is SPLENDID!

Here's what I did:

Take a large handful of the freshest figs you can find. Slice in half. Top each with a small amount of goat cheese. (I scooped a small amount and gently formed a clump for each fig half.) Drizzle balsamic vinegar (splurge on a good quality Modena for this if you can) over the top - you want just a splach on each fig. (We drizzled it on the plate first and then set our figs on top.)

The tartness, sweetness, creaminess is to die for! I should have taken a photo - but we gobbled them up to quickly!

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Saturday, August 23, 2008

Something Spiritual for Sunday

This has been in my RSS reader just waiting to be savored. I'm not sure I really had time to savor it right now, but I did read it and found it an excellent article on the humility Christians are to seek in their lives. The author is an Eastern Orthodox priest and speaks directly to the Orthodox believer and church, but there's plenty in there that is applicable to all Christians.

How do you approach conflict through humility? I see the benefit of making this a focus in the wider Church as well as my own life. Both need a lot of work in this area. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Have a blessed Sunday!

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Farmer's Market Report is up

Did you visit your Farmer's Market today, or earlier in the week?

Share what you found, what you are making, or any anecdotes from your trip with
The Farmer's Market Report for August 23rd
at To Every Meal a Season.

Peter Piper's Picks - Aug 23rd - BIRTHDAY Edition

Yup, it's almost my birthday! (August 26th, for those of you hoping to send me birthday cards. Heh.) So, in honor of August babies, here are some August/birthday related picks...

Here's what happend in World History on my birthday! I found this pretty interesting.

August's lovely pale green birthstone - Peridot.

What is your REAL age? Hallelujah - I'm apparently 17! (I'm not sure my back agrees, though.) Or this one, which is a little bit more thorough - and, unfortunately, probably more accurate...this one says my Real Age is 36.6.

I always enjoy reading about traditions from other countries - here are some birthday ones.

Besides birthdays - there is much more to celebrate in August - like National Dog Day, Crackers over the Keyboard Day, and National Underwear Day. This website has serious and silly lists for each month.

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Friday, August 22, 2008

What we are using this year...

The Heart of the Matter Meme for today is "What are you using this year?" Boy, is this a common question among homeschoolers! We love to share ideas, gather impressions, and swap information.

So, here is what we are using this year. My kids are in 1st, 3rd/4th and 7th:


(1) Singapore 1A,B - slowly
(3/4) Singapore 2A, B - a bit more quickly in the hopes of moving on to 3A,B
(7) Saxon 8/7

Language Arts:
(1) Explode the Code 1 and 2 (with the supplemental "1/2" books as needed); Bob Books; Copy Work; Narration
(3/4) Explode the Code 3 (with supplemental "1/2" book) - possibly ETC 4 if needed; Scholastic and DK Readers; Handwriting Without Tears Cursive; Copy Work; Narration
(7) IEW's Bible-Based Writing; Editor in Chief; Papers on Newberry Literature

Bible, Saints, and Seasons:
(All) Childrens Story Bible; Rings, Kings and Butterflies
(7) The Case for Christ for Kids

Grammar Level

1st Grader: The Jungle Books(and selections from an Ambleside-based "Free Reading" list)
3rd/4th Grader: Tanglewood Tales, A Wonder Book (and readings from my "Free Reading list);
Both: Daily poetry from The Oxford Book of Children's Verse in America, The Story Of Dr. Doolittle, The Wind in the Willows and some other selections from my "Free Reading" list

(for both 1st and 3rd/4th graders) Classical Conversations - Cycle 3; selected poems and scripture from The Harp and Laurel Wreath

Modern Studies:
CC Cycle 3 (US History and Geography); God's World News (Taking Off and Early Times); National Geographic Picture Atlas of Our Fifty States'>

CC - Cycle 3: 1st Semester (Anatomy) - Blood and Guts; The Usborne Internet-Linked Complete Book of the Human Body / 2nd Semester (Chemistry) - Adventures With Atoms and Molecules , The Periodic Table: Elements with Style

Classical Studies:
D'Aulaires Book of Greek Myths, Famous Men of Greece

Foreign Language:
Tutor taught (so no curriculum, yet)


Newberry Literature (Magician's Nephew, Bronze Bow, Number the Stars, Amos Fortune, Door in the Wall, Secret Garden, Carry On Mr Bowditch )

Classical Conversations - Challenge A (World Geography); Compact Atlas of the World

Challenge A (Natural Science): Nature Sketchbook, Biology Lab Sheets

Clear Reasoning:
It Couldn't Just Happen: Fascinating Facts About God's World, Don't Check Your Brains at the Door: A Book of Christian Evidences

Black Ships Before Troy, The Wanderings of Odysseus

Latin's Not So Tough 3 & 4

Plants Grown Up; Drama classes (in community)

Fine Arts (All)

Art Appreciation:
CC Cycle 3 (American Artists) - Discovering Great Artists: Hands-On Art for Children in the Styles of the Great Masters (Bright Ideas for Learning); National Gallery of Art Educational packages/videos: American Painting pkg, "American Art 1785-1946" video, "American Art" video, Early Modernism 1900-1940 pkg, Art Since 1950 pkg, "20th C Am. Art" video

Studio Art:
The Young Artist's Handbook, Drawing Textbook

CC Cycle 3 (Great Composers); Minute Sketches of the Great Composersor History's 100 Greatest Composers, Story of the Orchestra; Charlotte Symphony "Children's Concert Series"

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School is Back in Session!

This week was our first week of school!

There are so many reaons that this wasn't the ideal week to start school:

  • Eldest son left on Thursday for a 10-day trip to Sweden (more on that later)

  • MIL was in town (she is traveling with him)

  • I'm not totally finished with year's plan - I know *what* I'm doing, but not necessarily *when* or *how*.

  • One kid is sick...and I might be right behind her.

One thing I've learned the past 5 years we've been doing this is that my perfectionism can really get in the way. In the past, I'd have wanted to wait until I had everything perfectly planned out (even if that plan didn't last 2 months) and everyone was totally ready to start on a full schedule. But, usually it is just best to START, even if it is at "half-power". So, that is what we did - and it went pretty well!

We just did the basics: math and language arts, but we DID it! And eldest son had his first day of Challenge A (with Classical Conversations), so he only had a little prep work to do for that. By the time we get up to "full speed", we'll be ready to start back to Classical with the younger two. (Their CC classes don't start until Sept. 3.)

When is your first day?

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Monday, August 18, 2008

Turkey meatballs and Spaghetti

These are such a hit at my house! These are a great easy meal for any time of year.

1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp garlic powder
1 T Worchester sauce
1/8 c. Parmesan cheese (grated)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1 egg, beaten
1/2 c dry breadcrumbs
1/4 c. tomato sauce (I use Barilla Marinara), plus the more for the pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix all ingredients. Spray a 9 x 13 baking pan with veggie oil. Pour a very thin layer of sauce on the bottom then begin forming the meatballs and placing them in the pan. Spoon a little more sauce over the top of each meat ball (I just gently drizzle it around the pan - hitting most of the meatballs). If you have more sauce in your jar, you can save it to top the spaghetti. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Pull off the foil after 30 minutes and turn off the oven. Let the meatballs sit in the warm oven while you finish the pasta.
I use Barilla thick spaghetti noodles, boiled until al dente.

Serve a plate (or bowl) of pasta topped with a dollop of sauce and a few meatballs. Parmesan cheese is always delicious on top, too!

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Simple Woman's Daybook - August 18th

You can find out more about the Simple Woman's Daybook here.

For today, August 18th, 2008

Outside My Window... my grass is getting a wee bit long.

I am thinking ... that I'm glad to be getting school started even if I'm not entirely "ready".

I am thankful for... finally getting to enjoy dinner with friends we haven't seen much this summer.

From the kitchen ... making another batch of delicious Cinnamon Raisin bread today.

I am wearing ... blue yoga pants, white tank top and white hoodie - my standard "dressed, but not really dressed" outfit.

I am creating ... my yearly school plan this week. I have the basics, but there are some details I need to work on.

I am going ... to pick up groceries today. My local grocery story has an online shopping service - i take advantage of it very frequently during the school year. It costs my $5 in service fees, but that is worth the time it saves me! And I find that I actually save more than that in avoiding "impulse purchases".

I am reading ... still Gilead and Iliad, but also, my Cindy Rushton's yearly planning book.

I am hoping ... today's first day of school will go really well. We were up late and are getting a VERY late start to the day, but we're really not doing much "school" on the first day, so that is fine with me. Mostly we are just going to walk through the day's schedule and look over books.

I am hearing ... my local NPR station's morning talk show "Charlotte Talks" - they are talking about alternative fuel vehicles.

Around the house... I have a stack of games that I cleaned out of the bottom of my school cabinet that need to find a new home. And a pile of laundry - just no laundry detergent.

One of my favorite things... since I mentioned NPR above, it makes sense to tell you that NPR is one of my favorite things. I know they can certainly be left-leaning, but it's pretty obvious to me when they are, so it's easy to discern "spin". What I enjoy about NPR is the wonderful storytelling and the fascinating subject matter. I don't often find that they get bogged down in the silly nonsense that many news shows on TV do (which end up being mostly gossip and entertainment rather than NEWS).

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week:

  • First Day of School
  • Mother-in-Law arriving on Tuesday
  • Wednesday is eldest son's first day of Classical Conversatsions - Challenge A
  • Thursday MIL and eldest son leave for a 10-day trip to Sweden
Here is picture thought I am sharing:

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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Farmer's Market Report is up!

Did you visit your Farmer's Market today, or earlier in the week? Share with us what you found, what you are making, or any anecdotes from your trip at the Farmer's Market Report for Aug. 16th.

Peter Piper's Picks - Aug 16th

I've always loved a beautiful drive. Here are some remarkably beautiful roads.

Stop telling them to "BE CAREFUL"? Why risky play is important for children.

As much as I love changing things around in my home, I also love changing things around on my computer. Here are some pretty nice wallpapers! Or these wallpapers that might boost your productivity.

Have you heard about this amazing duck rescue? I didn't believe it at first, but it checks out on

Ok, these are just some very WEIRD bits of useless information, but many of them made me giggle. Let me know if you try out #33.

Why Elizabethan English is good mental excercise...Shakespeare meets Neurobiology.

Meals that last all week - I LOVE THIS. I want more ideas along these lines - any ideas?

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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Notes from The Mark of the Christian

In this age of tatooes, brands, and slogans, Francis Shaeffer's essay entitled, The Mark of the Christian has a lot to say about how we show the world we are Christians. It also has a lot to say in this age of major mainline denomination shake-ups and ever-splitting Protestantism about Christian unity. A lot to say in only 59 very small paperback book pages.

I've had this little book for a few months now sitting on my reading shelf picking it up occassionally and reading a paragraph or two, which no way to read this book. Today is the last day of my short "sabbatical", so I decided to sit down and read it in it's entirety.

Here are some quotes:

"Through the centuries men have displayed many different symbols to show that they are Christians. They have worn marks in the lapels of their coats, ...chains about their necks, even had special haircuts. Of course there is nothing wrong with any of this.... But there is a much better sign - a mark that has not been thought up just as a matter of expediency for use on some special occasion or in some specific era. It is a universal mark that is to last through all the ages of the church till Jesus comes back....'that ye love one another; as I have loved you'...."

"The church is to be a loving church in a dying culture. How, then, is the dying culture going to consider us? Jesus says, 'By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.' In the midst of the world, in the midst of our present dying culture, Jesus is giving a right to the world. Upon his authority he gives the world the right to judge whether you and I are born-again Christians on the basis of our observable love toward all Christians."

"But Jesus is not here saying that our failure to love all Christians proves that we are not Christians. (...) What Jesus is saying, however, is that, if I do not have the love I should have toward all other Christians, the world has the right to make the judgement that I am not a Christian. (...) Of course, the world may be making a wrong judgement because, if the man is truly a Christian...they made a mistake. (...) Here Jesus is talking about our responsibility as individuals and as groups to so love all other true Christians that the world will have no valid reason for saying that we are not Christians."

"But Jesus did give the mark that will arrest the attention of the world, even the attention of the modern man... Because every man is made in the image of God and has, therefore, aspirations for love, there is something that can be in every geographical climate - in every point of time - which cannot fail to arrest his attention. ... The love that true Christians show for each other and not just for their own party."

"The Christian really has a double task. He has to practice both God's holiness and God's love. ... Not his holiness without his love: that is only harshness. Not his love without his holines: that is only compromise."

"What divides and severs true Christian groups and Christians - what leaves bitterness that can last for twenty, thirty or forty years ... - is not the issue of doctrine or belief which caused the differences in the first place. Invariably it is the lack of love and the bitter things that are said by true Christians in the midst of differences. (...) It is these things - these unloving attitudes and words - that cause the stench that the world can smell in the church of Jesus Christ among those who are really true Christians."

"First, we should never come to such difference with true Christians without regret and without tears."

"The church is not to let pass what is wrong; but the Christian should suffer practical, monetary loss to show the oneness true Christians should have rather than to go to court against other true Christians, for this would destroy such an observable oneness before the watching world."

"I want to say with all my heart that as we struggle with the proper preaching of the gospel in the midst of the twentieth century, the importance of observable love must come into our message. We must not forget the final apologetic. The world has a right to look upon us as we, as true Christians, come to practical differences, and it should be able to observe that we do love each other. Our love must have a form that the world may observe, it must be seeable."

"Love - and the unity it attests to - is the mark Christ gave Christians to wear before the world. Only with this mark may the world know that Christians are indeed Christians and that Jesus was sent by the Father."

I know I have at times NOT worn the mark of love. I can think of a few events or moments when I have very clearly not been loving to Christians with whom I've disagreed. I've also been on the receiving end of not being loved and it really hurts - especially when it comes from other Christians. What hurts even more is realizing how damaging this is to the Gospel.

What I've learned today is that while choosing to wear marks to announce our faith is fine, it is good to make sure we are not missing THE mark that Christ gave us to wear.

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Online maps for use in History lessons

Maps of War is an online collection of animated maps and links to other realated maps around the internet. These aren't limited to solely war-time maps (although the focus is on what you might call "Conflict" maps).

Here are some of my favorites:
History of the Middle East
History of Religion
March of Democracy
American Leadership and War

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Heh - I am the Tin Man

Just for fun...

One of the "famous" INFJ's is the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz. So, I guess that is why I always liked the Tin Man. If you take the test (a very shortened one based on Myers-Briggs), leave your type in the comments!

Click to view my Personality Profile page

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Monday, August 11, 2008

The Simple Woman Daybook - Aug 11

You can find out more about the Simple Woman's Daybook here and see today's post for more Daybook entries.

For today, August 11th, 2008

Outside My Window...another sunny summer day, but the air has cooled just slightly.

I am thinking...about how to celebrate the start of a new school year. I want to make it really special for my kids. In the past, we've always had an "Ice Cream for Dinner" party, and we'll do that again, but I'm also trying to think of fun ways to "gear up" for the year - not just on the first day.

I am thankful for... sweet solitude. My dear husband took my children to the beach with friends for a few days leaving me with a quiet house to myself.

From the kitchen ...I'm contemplating making a batch of my favorite eggplant dip (similar to baba ganoush).

I am wearing ... tan capris, violet t-shirt. Nothing fancy - just comfortable to work in.

I am creating quite a mess as I clean out my school cabinet in order to refill it with this year's school supplies and books.

I am going the post office today to send our i800a - the next step in our adoption!

I am reading ...out of my RSS reader today. There are a number of items I've saved for later and these next few days will be the time for "later". I'm still reading Gilead, the Iliad, and my landscaping books.

I am hoping use my days of solitude well. Mostly, I want to maintain a good balance between getting some needed projects done and having some relaxation time.

I am hearing ...the hum of my refrigerator. It's not very often that my house is quiet enough to notice that.

Around the house... things have stayed VERY neat with no extra people to leave little messes. Well, until I started cleaning out the school cabinet. So, let's say every room but the kitchen has stayed VERY neat.

One of my favorite things... during these few days of solitude has been having my thoughts uninterrupted. As any mom, especially when you have little ones or home educate, knows this is an extremely rare thing.

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: My goals for this 4-day holiday are: Relax, get my new Fly Lady schedule tweaked for the start of the new school year, clean out the school cabinet, get the kids' new school supplies and books into the cabinet, look over school plans for areas that need some work or fleshing out, have coffee with the same friend I was trying to have dinner with last week, and Relax.

Here is picture thought I am sharing:
I think if you click on that picture it will take you to a larger image. That is me on the left (in white) in Tiananmen Square in front of the Official Beijing Olympics Countdown Clock. If you look closely, you might be able to figure out when we were there!

I have other pictures from China that are much prettier than this one, but it seemed the most appropriate for this week. My traveling companion (and neighbor) and I are really enjoying these Olympic Games and celebrating the Chinese culture and people that we came to love while we visited.

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Saturday, August 9, 2008

Peter Piper's Picks: Aug 9th

This week's Picks have a decidedly Olympic theme. Enjoy!

Plan your Olympic viewing schedule. We are setting up our DVR today so we won't miss our favorite events.

Olympic Logos from 1896-2012.

Wow - some fantastic Chinese architecture for the Olympics.

Western Classical music grows in popularity in China.

This isn't exactly relating to the Olympics, but I think you'll understand why I picked it to go with this theme...13 words not found in the English Language.

And my own travel journal from my 2007 trip to China. When I grabbed this link, I realized I'd never finished blogging about the final days in Guangzhou - that's too bad, because we had a great time there. (all these journal entries are pulled from our emails home...and in Guangzhou, we just didn't have the time to email and it was much more expensive)

The following are not Olympics related, but they are both timely, so I'm posting them today...

Fantastic photos of the total solar eclipse that occurred on August 1st across the very northern areas of Canada, Greenland, Northern Europe, Russia and China.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn has passed away this week and his Harvard address from 1978 has been republished on the 'net quite a bit.

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Friday, August 8, 2008

7 Steps to a Productive Farmer's Market Trip

...from my new blog, To Every Meal A Season , a post to help you make the most of your farmer's market trip: 7 Steps to a Productive Farmer's Market Trip. I've got 7 tips for you, perhaps you'll have some for me!

And tomorrow, check back for a "Farmer's Market Report" Mr. Linky - join in with your Farmer's Market finds for the week - YUM!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

August "Recipe Swap Box"!

Today is Randi's "Recipe Swap Box" day at i have to say. The theme is "Garden Fresh", so skidaddle on over and check out the delicious recipes!

I've got some recipes from my new blog To Every Meal a Season in the Swap Box, too!

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Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Model Magic Creations

I mentioned yesterday about the Model Magic my kids were enjoying. They love this stuff because it is so easy to work with...and I like it because it really is "no-mess". It dries quickly and nicely, too!

So, you want to see what they created?

This is my middle son with his creations. He was disappointed that the "cool colors" didn't show up in this photos, so I took another one:

You can see he made an alligator, giraffe and a bird.

Here are my daughter's creations:

Let's see I'll list these clockwise starting with the big "E" - her first initial. Beside the "E" is a fish, butterfly, sun, platypus, and a flower.

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Monday, August 4, 2008

Art History Links for Homeschoolers - August 2008

What are Art History Links for Homeschoolers?
Well, as homeschoolers, we love to learn...and it needs to be cheap and easily accessible (ie. local or ONLINE). I look for online exhibits, resources, reading lists, videos, and activity ideas for major art historical themes. Many of these resources are offered in conjunction with local exhibits, so if you are lucky enough to be in that vacinity, take advantage of it.

How can you help?
Know of a great resource online or a great exhibit in your area? Email me or leave a comment. I'll incorporate your finds into a future month's listing. And if you take advantage of any of the resources...or attend an exhibit mentioned here, let me know what you think! Your feedback helps me provide better listings.

In conjunction with the Beijing Olympics, I've found two Chinese art resources:

Ancient Chinese Sculpture
From the Art Knowledge Newsletter:
The script is familiar but irresistible. A cache of art is stored, unexamined, in the bowels of an esteemed institution. Scholars become intrigued. Cataloging begins. The quality is unexpectedly high, and soon an exhibition materializes, accompanied by a catalog that illuminates the tale of neglect, renewed interest and diligent scholarship as well as the splendors of the art. That is the plot for “Treasures Rediscovered: Chinese Stone Sculpture From the Sackler Collections at Columbia University,” an eye-opening show at the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Gallery at Columbia University.

Anatomy of a Masterpiece: How to Read Chinese Paintings
Another excellent online exhibit, this time of Chinese paintings and calligraphy. If you'd like to share some images of masterpieces of Chinese painting and calligraphy with your kids, this is a great resource. The works span 1,000 years of Chinese art history.

Create a custom art history timeline
As you put the finishing touches on your lessons for the year, you might want to consider using this excellent resource from the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. It will make adding art to your lessons easy as pie!

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An Art History Carnival

Look-y what I found - an ART HISTORY CARNIVAL. I know I'm a geek to get so excited about that, but what can I say. Margaret is hosting this carnival at her blog The Earthly Paradise. She is a grad student and a former homeschooler.

If you enjoy reading about art...or looking at art, you'll find something worthwhile in this carnival. I've got a wee little submission in there, too.

The posts include:
  • Art History essays (Mondrian, Whistler's Mother, a mystery/history lesson),
  • Art News and Exhibits (online exhibits, free or reduced fee museum days),
  • Philosopy of Art (creativity origins, Neolithic art), and
  • Reviews (Indian architecture).

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Eating Seasonally and Sustainably in Suburbia

In the past year, my family has been making a concerted effort to eat according to the seasons. We are also trying to purchase as much as we can from local farmers. But we are still learning - and living in suburbia can make it quite a challenge.

Are you interested in eating seasonally and sustainably? Come join the conversation as we continue learning! We'll share some recipes and ideas, and hope you will, too. Where? Here:

To Every Meal a Season

If you like what you see, be sure to help spread the word!

Classic Tomato Sauce

Marcella Hazan is one of my favorite Italian cookbook authors. Her book, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking, is a fantastic resource if you love Italian food. She has many great recipes for pasta sauces - this one is a true classic and couldn't be much simpler.

Tomato Sauce with Onion and Butter
2 lbs fresh, ripe tomatoes (blanched, skinned and coarsely chopped) OR 2 c. canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juices
5 T butter
1 med. onion, peeled and cut in half

Put the tomatoes in a saucepan, add the butter, onion, and salt, and cook uncovered at a very slow, but steady simmer for 45 minutes, or until the fat floats free from the tomato. Stir from time to time, mashing any large pieces of tomato in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon. Taste and correct for salt. Remove onion before tossing the sauce with pasta (save it for the stock pot).

This sauce may be frozen - just remove the onion before freezing. Marcella says this is the "unsurpassed sauce for Potato Gnocchi" - little potato and flour dumplings cooked like pasta in water. Instead of making these from scratch - which I've done before, I found some all prepared to be boiled at Trader Joe's, so that is what I'm using. Cheating, I know!

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