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Psalm 78
. . . we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. .
so the next generation would know them . . . and they in turn would tell their children.
Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Lead Rider

This summer the kids and I have started taking morning bike rides. We stick pretty close to our mile-section, but have found ways to ride that avoid traffic and yet give us about a four mile excursion. I tow our two-year-old in a Burley two-wheeled cart and the other three ride their bikes.

On our first ride, I felt that it was safer to be at the back, keeping close watch on my line of riders. I tend to worry about traffic and since we are new to family rides I know my kids lack experience with riding in places other than our idyllic cul-de-sac. The kids took turns leading and I called out instructions, "Stop at the corner!" "Keep to the right!" "You're too far ahead!"

It was a disaster. The kids bickered over whose turn it was to be leader. They argued, bumped into each other's bikes, strayed from the curbside (we ride in the street only on quiet side streets), and generally caused me to be anxious about the whole experience.

Fed up, I took the lead. Never mind that I can't have my eyes on them at all times, I scowled to myself. I'm leading this train!

And now we have a marvelous time. No problems at crossings. I assign one of the older girls to the rear position with instructions to tell me if someone is lagging or struggling. I glance back frequently. And they follow. Beautifully.

At the risk of sounding corny or sappy, I have to say that I noticed a parallel in my mothering. I tend to fall into a habit of coming along behind, scolding, barking out instructions, pointing obnoxiously, feeling frustrated when things aren't done right. It makes me critical and negative. Instead I should take the lead, showing by example the right way, training them in the way to live, and providing correction and discipline when they fail to follow.

I'm planning to lead the ride from here on out. But, fortunately, I have a Rider ahead of me giving me a path to follow.

Thank you, Jesus.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Learning to Fly with Wilbur and Orville

On December 17, 1903 Orville Wright successfully flew 120 feet in about 12 seconds along the sands of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. He was piloting a plane that he designed and built with his brother Wilbur, the 1903 Flyer. Having proved their theories, the two men essentially packed up and went home to Dayton, to begin designing an improved Flyer.

We just finished reading the story of the Wright Brothers' invention, a story that began at least four years earlier in 1899. The Wright brothers had made a goal to achieve controllable, powered flight and went about reaching their goal in a very patient, systematic way. Their perseverance paid off, but not immediately. Their story is as much about the miracle of flight as it is about the patient and dogged determination of working hard until the job is done. The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane, by Russell Freedman, took us right along with Wilbur and Orville through each season of testing out their ideas with kites, gliders, and miniature gliders in their homemade wind tunnel. We rejoiced with them when they figured out how to glide, were disappointed with them when their first control system didn't pan out so well, and cheered them on as they went back to the drawing board to tackle the problem of control. When they added their own engine with the power of twelve horses, Lane excitedly pointed to the picture of the chain drive that transferred the engine's power to the propellers, "Here is how it connects!"

Lane pretends to pilot the Flyer, which we chalked out on our street, matching the dimensions (as best as we could). A neighbor friend is stretched out by the far wingtip.

After the brothers reached their goal of sustained, controllable and powered flight they attempted to profit from their ideas. Edwards Academy kids were listening intently to the tale Orville's demonstration flights before the U.S. Signal Corps and Wilbur's demonstration flights over in France. With each triumph, such as the flight of a Wright-designed plane across the United States, Long Island to Long Beach, the kids celebrated. Lane: "He flew over Kansas!"

I wasn't terribly surprised then, when Lane quickly walked out of the room as I read, "Wilbur never had the satisfaction of returning to the wind and sand of the Outer Banks [at Kitty Hawk, as Orville had done]. In 1912 he fell critically ill with typhoid fever, a common disease at that time, spread by contaminated food or water. After battling the disease for four weeks, he lapsed into unconsciousness and died at home on May 30, at the age of forty-five." Long about this time, I heard Sydney begin to sob. Lane returned to the room and his face was scrunched with tears. The two of them mourned deeply for Orville's loss, who carried on without his brother for another thirty-six years. His light had gone out, however, and he stopped flying in 1918.

We took this in-depth visit with the Wright Brothers in anticipation of our first week of Tapestry of Grace Year 4, which covers the first decade of the 20th Century. Some of our summertime reading focuses on the turn of the century, reading about actual events (such as the story of Mrs. Aeneas Gunn) or fictional stories set in that time period (such as Five Children and It).

Learn more about the 1903 Wright Flyer.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Our Family Hero

My aunt Kathy wrote an article about my grandfather which the Austin (Texas) American-Statesman featured in their Father's Day paper. Read A Lifelong Dream to Visit Africa and meet my beloved grandfather and travel with him and my Aunt Kathy when they visited my father and mother in Kenya several years ago. Grandpa was born in 1903 and lived to be 89 years old. He died somewhat unexpectedly the year after their journey. We miss him still.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

First Day of Summer






Yesterday, besides being the first official day of summer, was a rare day in Kansas: it was still. At least nearly. We took advantage of the stillness and took our dinner out to the lake near our home. We rode on Grandpa's boat to our favorite little beach which is surrounded by woods, we saw turtle tracks in the sand, we ate sandwiches on a blanket, and we splashed around in the muddy water for over an hour. After another boat ride back to the marina the kids took showers in the marina bathhouse while Mr. Edwards and Grandpa "buttoned up" the boat. All clean and fresh, we stood around and drank root beers before the drive home.

All in all, a great evening with family.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Summer Smiles

Lane and a backyard find
Sydney and Hope with a friend on the swing set.
Hope and Sydney and their friend.

Journey to Elsey Station in 1903


Last week after The Little Black Princess by Mrs. Aeneas Gunn arrived in our mailbox, Edwards Academy kids and I became acquainted with Bett-Bett, an Aboriginal princess who lived near the Roper River of Australia’s Northern Territory in 1903. Bett-Bett was about eight or nine at the time that Mrs. Gunn (Jeannie) moved to the Elsey cattle station with her husband Aeneas. It was unheard of at the time for a gentlewoman and bride like Jeannie to settle in the wilds of Australia. The Gunn’s homestead was forty-five miles from the front gate of the property. And yet, Jeannie made the move and triumphed, winning over the skeptical stockmen of the station and coming to care deeply for the Aborigines who lived in the area. One of these was Bett-Bett.

Our kids loved hearing Mrs. Gunn’s tales of Bett-Bett and Goggle Eye, the old king. Bett-Bett and her little dog Sue were befriended by Mrs. Gunn, who took in Bett-Bett and gave her a chance to “sleep longa house” with “Missus.” Still, it was Bett-Bett who taught Mrs. Gunn much about the bush and the ways of her people. When the book first arrived and I read the prologue, which gives the context of the book, my children seemed distracted. But once I began reading about Bett-Bett, jumping in the river and hiding from the Willeroo people chasing her, leaving just her mouth and nose above water and risking the wrath of the crocodiles to stay hidden from her enemies, the kids were hooked.

Yesterday we finished the story of Bett-Bett so I borrowed We of the Never Never from the library. This is an Australian film based on Mrs. Gunn’s novel of the same name that tells of her thirteen months living on Elsey Station with her husband Aeneas. Although We of the Never Never focuses more on Mrs. Gunn’s challenge of making a home in a hostile place than the story of Bett-Bett, my kids were mesmerized by the film. They knew immediately when Bett-Bett and Goggle Eye where on the screen before the film even mentioned their names, recognizing them as old friends.

We of the Never Never is a touching story and film. (The novel, which I’ve not yet read, can be read free online through Project Gutenberg.) My daughters were very inspired by Jeannie’s strength of character. She never complained about the primitive homestead she found at Elsey, but determinedly set about making it into a home. Her attitude in the face of stockmen who did not want her there touched my daughters. When Jeannie meets the ranch cook, an angry man who will not let her cook for her husband, one of my daughters said, “But why don’t they like her? She just wants to cook and clean for her husband, and maybe ride horses once and a while?” According to the Australian Dictionary of Biography, Jeannie Gunn was the daughter of a Baptist minister and educated at home by her mother until she was seventeen. This little fact is not central to her story, but makes her that much more interesting for our home school.

Our week-long journey through the Northern Territory of Australia in 1903 would never have happened had it not been for Sharon’s post. Sharon of Equip Academy told about reading this book to her children, who are similar in age to mine, and I immediately decided to find the book, The Little Black Princess. It is out of print, but with some tips from Sharon I found it through Abe Books. Thank you so much for the tip, Sharon! It is thrilling to discover primary source books that children can enjoy.

We are spending the summer occasionally reading stories set in the turn of the (last) century, since our coming school year will kick off with this decade. The Little Black Princess was an unexpected treasure that fit in exactly with our summer emphasis. Coming up: Five Children and It (1902) by Edith Nesbit. Nesbit’s books were an inspiration to Edward Eager, the author of another Edwards Academy read-aloud, Half Magic. We know her already as the author of The Railway Children and look forward to reading about the wishes that five children make when they encounter a fairy in Five Children and It.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Twentieth Century Reading


The Edwards Academy will be studying the 20th century in the coming school year (Tapestry of Grace Year 4). The recent history of the last hundred years is a difficult tale to tell. It is complex and often depressing and its subject matter is often heavy and dark. The tale of the 20th century chronicles wars, rebellion, and moral depravity. Truth and beauty, taste and discernment are all tossed aside and scorned. Yet this is the century that shaped me. My grandparents were all born in the first twenty years of the 20th century, my parents before 1950. I came of age before the close of the century. The long study of chronological history that we are taking in the Edwards Academy is now coming into clear focus as it reaches recent times.

Teacher Enrichment Training. This summer I thought it would be fun to revisit the 20th century books that are on my shelves as I prepare mentally for the coming school year. My shelves are lined with books that tell, in a way, the story of my life. Over there are the books that I devoured as a teenager, down there are some of the history books I kept from college, here are some novels that I read when I was in high school, up there are the biographies I read when I was expecting the twins, etc., etc. Returning to a book on my shelf brings back more memories than simply the story between the covers.

When I thought of grabbing a 20th century book off the shelf, I immediately thought of The Winds of War, by Herman Wouk. I first knew of this story in the early ‘80s when my folks watched the miniseries on television. With Robert Mitchum in the title role of Pug Henry, the miniseries brought to life the story of Henry’s family just as the thirties come to a close. Hitler is war-mongering in Europe and everyone is asking, “Will there be war?” With a son in the Navy, a daughter in college, and another son in Italy, the novel opens with Pug Henry, a career Navy man, taking an assignment in Berlin and moving there with his wife, Rhoda.

I was about eleven when I saw portions of the miniseries and read the novel sometime thereafter. It was a tough read and I don’t think I really got through it until high school. I was fascinated by the whole subject of World War II and enthralled with the 1940s in general. I’m sure my ignorance of the very subject that intrigued me made much of the book a mystery to me, but at the same time it served as an education of the times.

It was such a favorite book of mine that when given a term paper assignment in my high school English class, I decided to compare The Winds of War with Dr. Zhivago. This was a grievous mistake. My whole thesis was wrong, but by the time I discovered it the confounded notecards were due! The two novels have nothing in common except that they are both “World War II stories.” My choice of thesis proved that although I had read both books I hadn’t really understood them.

The wonderful thing about returning to a book is that it shows how much you, the reader, have changed since you last read it. Sometimes the response is, “How could I have thought this was any good?” Other times more like, “I get this now!” Some books endure for re-reading, others expire after the first encounter. For me, The Winds of War strikes me as better upon re-reading. I’m a different person now, with a much stronger grasp of history and better able to understand the context of the story and the human relationships within the story. It is a richer experience.

Herman Wouk is a 20th century novelist, for sure. His book Youngblood Hawke (1962) was a formational book for my dad as a young man and Wouk’s Marjorie Morningstar (1955) struck a chord with his older sister, who suggested I read it when I was a college student. I did, and couldn’t put it down. Wouk’s stories of World War II and young people coming of age in the post-war years, if read in the right time of life, can be the sort of book that deeply affects you. (These novels are not for children.)

I’ll be re-reading or skimming all the Herman Wouk books on my shelf this summer.
Other 20th Century books on my shelf I may re-visit this summer that are not on the TOG reading list:

Roosevelt, by Conrad Black (A thorough biography that makes sense of both the New Deal and WWII. The Canadian author and newspaper mogul wrote the book in 2003 and has since fallen from grace after running afoul of the law in his business dealings. Not the best Roosevelt biography, but I bought it after reading a book review in 2003 and enjoyed reading it as my preschoolers played with their toys.)

Lindbergh, by A. Scott Berg (A biography written in the 1990s that gives a cradle-to-grave portrait of the man famous for flying across the Atlantic and losing a son in a kidnapping, but somewhat forgotten as a anti-war advocate during the years before WWII and as a thoughtful writer.)

An American Childhood, by Annie Dillard (A memoir of the author and a favorite of mine. I mentioned it before in a post.)

I Will Bear Witness 1933-1941, A Diary of the Nazi Years, by Victor Klemperer (This book contains the journals of the author from the time period. An excellent primary source book with a companion, I Will Bear Witness 1942-1945, A Diary of the Nazi Years.)

War and Society in Europe, 1870-1970, by Brian Bond (A book from a college class.)
Stalin Breaker of Nations, by Robert Conquest (Another college class book.)

How does your reading for pleasure intersect with the subjects you cover in your homeschool?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Happy Father's Day

Twenty-three years ago Dad baptized me in a Kansas lake.
“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.”
Matthew 28:19-20a

Thanks, Dad, for obeying Jesus’ command.
You have traveled to many nations,
made many disciples,
baptized many people,
and faithfully taught the Word of God.

But I’m most grateful for your obedience to Jesus in discipling, baptizing, and teaching me.

Your example has taught me, and continues to teach me, what it is to be a servant in the Kingdom.

Happy Father’s Day!

Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Love Game

The four Edwards children


There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts,
but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

Proverbs 12:18

...but those who plan peace have joy.
Proverbs 12:20b

One day last week was particularly difficult for our children. We were home most of the day carrying out our new summer schedule. It seemed that all day long the kids argued, bickered, provoked one another, and found ways to aggravate their siblings whenever they could. I was tired of it and found that my own words in response were not helping and probably fueling more frustration.

That evening as we gathered in our circle on the floor to kneel in prayer, as we always do at bedtime, I impulsively announced:

"Tonight we are going to do something a little different before we pray. I want to go around the circle and when it is your turn I want to you say something that you love about the person on your right. I'll start." The kids eyes widened at this change of routine. "One thing I love about Hope is that she is not afraid to try new things." Hope smiled a little shyly. "Hope, now it is your turn."

"One thing I love about Lane is how he makes books."
And Lane said, "One thing I love about Daddy is how he works so we can have food."
And Mr. Edwards said, "One thing I love about Sydney is that she stays with a task until it is finished."
And Sydney said, "One thing I love about Toby is the way he likes to play motor boat with me."

The next evening when it came time for our bedtime routine, Lane called out, "Let's do the love game again!"

And now "The Love Game" is a new element in our bedtime routine. We are careful to remind the kids not to say, "I love so-and-so because..." but to say, "One thing I love about..." We've heard beautiful compliments shared from brother to sister, sister to brother, father to daughter, son to mother, etc.

This morning when I read Proverbs 12 in my devotional time, the verses quoted above struck me anew and I reflected on our "Love Game." Peaceful relationships often require planning. And indeed, our rash words spoken throughout the day hurt like sword thrusts and invite a tit-for-tat sort of war of words. But a wise tongue can offer healing words of love. And the evidence of healing spreads across each of my children's faces in a smile when they hear their brother, sister, mother, or father give them a sincere compliment.

After one week of this the Edwards kids are adept at deciding where each of us should sit in the circle so that we rotate through and hear from each family member. Even Toby joins in, sometimes with prompting. Last night he proudly said, "Mommy is....Mommy is...." Mr. Edwards whispered in his ear. Toby continued, "BOO--TI--FUL!"

Yes, I like this game a lot!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Synonyms

Lane and a stove "just like Almanzo's" at Tallgrass Prairie Preserve

Lane and Mr. Edwards just returned from the store with some groceries we needed.

"Mom!" Lane ran up to me to give me a report of their outing. "We got apple juice but this time it is focus."

"Focus?" I asked, puzzled.

"Yeah, you know, in the can." We usually buy apple juice in a jug.

"You mean you got juice concentrate?"

"Right! Concentrate."

"Great!"

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Book Review: The Dumbest Generation

The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future*
*Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30

By Mark Bauerlein, 2008.
Book Review by Amy M. Edwards, 2008

Is it possible to rise above the rottenness of your own generation? Is it possible to gain some insight into habits, thinking patterns, and assumptions that you aren't even aware of having? When an entire generation of Americans--make that people--accepts as normal a level of anti-intellectualism among the masses, is there any hope for transcending the norm?

Although I'm safely on the high side of 30 years old (you can trust me on that), the thesis of Mark Bauerlein's book, The Dumbest Generation, has me gravely concerned for my children. The Emory University English professor argues that the newest generation gap is not anything similar to your father's generation gap. Instead, the upcoming "Millennials" are actually bringing a whole new level of despair to the usual middle aged hand-wringing over "youth today." Why? Because the digital age of video games, Facebook and My Space, blogging (ouch!), Web 2.0, texting, email, and television has created a very isolated generation that is not engaged with the broader world. The isolation is geographic ("Is Paris in England?") and civic ("How long do Supreme Court justices serve anyway?") and historic ("The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire is completely irrelevant to me.") Yes, these young people have more information at their fingertips than any other generation has experienced, but rather that trying to understand their world, they seem to be shrinking it. And, dangerously, while their knowledge base shrinks, their opinions seem to grow.

Bauerlein writes that the online phenomenon creates a peer community that is isolated and false. Teens text their peers, they read their peers' Facebook pages, they email photos of themselves to classmates, but they aren't moving beyond a very narrow circle socially or intellectually. The social set they've created for themselves does not reach across generations. Bauerlein writes, "Maturity comes, in part, through vertical modeling, relations with older people such as teachers, employers, ministers, aunts and uncles, and older siblings, along with parents, who impart adult outlooks and interests...The Web (along with cell phones teen sitcoms, and pop music), though, encourages more horizontal modeling, more raillery and mimicry of people the same age, an intensification of peer consciousness." (Bauerlein, page 136)

Web 2.0, the phrase du jour for the Internet as we now experience it (my own blog being a prime example!), makes it easier than ever to surround yourself with only your own experience. It is as if we are all living a provincial, small-town life of our own making. We read blogs of our friends, their friends, follow their links, and give each other feedback. But rarely do we encounter something outside of our own interests or views. Does this matter? It does if you are in the rhetoric stage (a term from classical education philosophy that refers to the teen years in their educational development). Rhetoric stage kids (teens) should be taking the body of knowledge that (hopefully) they've attained and begin expressing themselves, interacting with the knowledge and ideas of great thinkers of all time, and wrestling with truth. Unfortunately, Millenials and the teens that follow after them are reaching this stage of life with little body of knowledge to respond to and only the ideas of their peers to wrestle with. It is the blind leading the blind.

In The Dumbest Generation Bauerlein cries out against trends that have been observed and bemoaned before. The sad thing is that apparently no one is listening and few are deciding to make difficult changes in their lifestyles to counter-act the trend. I can think of Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death (1985), Allan Bloom's The Closing of the American Mind (1988), and Jane Healy's Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don't Think and What We Can Do About It (1990) just for starters as books that served as canaries in the mine, warning of the suffocating effects of media. Unfortunately, Bauerlein doesn't offer the reader much help in understanding how to transcend this problem.

As a Christian parent, I have an even greater reason to be alarmed by this trend for my children's sake. Literacy is essential to worship. God's revelation to us in Scripture is the primary way that He communicates with us. Minds shaped by Web 2.0 are not interested in reading for pleasure. It is doubtful, then, that these minds will embrace reading and studying Scripture as a voluntary spiritual discipline. Indeed, even among Christian churched teens, personal Bible study is rare. Furthermore, churches are increasingly turning to an experiential and energy-driven method of children's ministry that does not cultivate a value for learning. On the contrary, it apologizes for spiritual disciplines, bending over backward to convince kids that church is fun. This whole approach has a way of confirming the lie that something must be fun and relevant to ME to matter.*

Here are some ideas for helping our kids rise above the unique challenges facing them because of the digital-age that shapes them:

Keep fighting against screen time in your home. Even for those convicted about the negative impact of media, it is something that creeps into our lives almost unnoticed. For me, the summer schedule tempts me to allow more video time, especially when I crave some calmness while fixing dinner. Fighting screen time is more than a content issue. Wholesome or educational viewing still should be kept to a minimum for kids. And kids two and under shouldn't really be watching at all. Computers and gaming are in the same category. Even in homeschooling and Christian circles I find that there is tremendous pressure against saying "no" to these guilty pleasures. Need a reminder why this matters? Read Jane Healy's Endangered Minds.

Sharpen your minds with literacy. This means reading long novels, non-fiction books, and reading aloud to the family. Skimming doesn't count. It takes effort to stick with a full-length book rather than scanning (scrolling down) over a online blog posting. But the effort engages your mind and stretches your attention span. It is especially critical for the developing minds of our children. We must hold a higher standard for them in part because their brains are in development. Cultivate minds that read so that they will be able to read God's Word.

Practice listening. Literacy and the love of language are important tools for effective communication. It is important to develop a good ear for quality language. Listen to E.B. White read his book Charlotte's Web and The Trumpet of the Swan. We also love the Little House books on audio CD, in addition to the Narnia books. Try to start early with narrative-driven audiobooks. Listening to a story without visual cues develops imagination and attention-span. Train kids early on to stick with a long story.

Keep contrary views on your radar screen. Not because every view has value. In fact, most ideas are worthless. But are you able to tell the difference? Are you able to apply your Biblical worldview against a hostile view and teach your kids to see the danger of false philosophies? A caveat: Grammar stage kids are not developmentally ready to wrestle with abstract ideas. Keep things simple and black and white in the early years and begin more argumentative thinking in the logic stage (middle school years). An important warning: Don't forget about Philippians 4:8 "Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things." But check in on contrary thinking and keep abreast of the false philosophies that are shaping the world that our children are growing up in.

Deepen your Biblical worldview and your understanding of history. As a homeschooling parent committed to classical education, I am giving our kids the very long view of history with which to analyze our current times. Kids need to understand history in order to put their own lifetime into context. The Millennials are incapable of seeing outside of themselves, let alone outside of their age. This is a skill that must be honed intentionally.

Steel yourself for the consequences. Learning to rise above the rottenness of your generation means being like Daniel, in the Old Testament. It is a calling that often carries great risk, difficult suffering, and possible loneliness. I need to hate the media-impact on Millennials for two reasons: its foundational philosophies are godless and it's anti-intellectualism leaves people unprepared to know God through Scripture. I must cultivate literacy and intellectualism in my children to give them a better ability to study their Bible and follow after God's will for them.

*For more on this, see my book review of Perspectives on Children's Spiritual Formation posted 9/27/07. Also, for thoughts about studying the Bible chronologically rather than topically, see my post A Word in Defense of Chronological Study.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Summer Sanity



The Edwards Academy summer break started one month ago. Sure, we're still plugging away on math and we have daily reading time, but for all intents and purposes school has been out. We've had a few major distractions in the month of May (birthdays, dad in the hospital, finishing our beloved BSF, the homeschool convention) but now we look ahead to a nearly blank calendar in June.

It is time for a summer schedule!

After a few restless days in which I accomplished nothing and the kids' playtime dissolved into bickering, I powered up my Excel spreadsheet and put together our summer schedule and summer chore charts.

I periodically kick off chore assignments, which we generally follow for a few months before circumstances change and we stop for a few days and then I fail to reinstate our chores. But it is time to kick it off again and this summer I'm going to try a zone defense.

I've assigned rooms to each of my kids on certain days. If you are assigned the hall bath, then it is your job to keep it shining all day long. Ditto on the dining room, laundry/mud room, living room, bedrooms, and kitchen. It didn't take long for them to realize that they don't appreciate their siblings making messes in their space!

Meanwhile, we've blocked off time for outside play in the morning, math time, reading time, playdough with Tobias, snacks, Edwards Academy summer art class, and chores. I'm able to keep the laundry moving throughout the day, work on some extra household chores, and devote some time to the book project I'm working on.

We are all happier and live at peace when we are guided by a schedule. Especially me.

Oh! It's time to fold the laundry!

Keep Your Eyes on Your Own Paper!

Edwards Academy students reading Black Beauty. "We won't be doing your reading for you."


Like most bloggers, I use a free tracking service to keep an eye on blog traffic. This blog has very few readers (if you are reading this, you are among the elite!), but I'm not really aiming for high traffic.

I have a few friends who read pretty regularly, family members who check on us this way, and other hits that come to the blog through Google searches. Yesterday one of these searchers came to my blog after searching "Owls in the Family gave away Weeps." After this search they came upon my daughters' book reviews of Owls in the Family (posted a few months ago).

They are not the first to do so. Since the book reviews were posted, about a dozen searchers have come to this blog because of an Owls in the Family search. One time it was a Canadian searching for "Who is Billy's friend in Owls in the Family" and it was then that it hit me: these are probably kids working on a school assignment. (Owls in the Family is probably better known in Canada since that is its setting and home of its author.)

I've heard all about kids who would rather Google for answers than actually read what is assigned to them, or would rather waste time Googling for essays to copy rather than actually write one. It irritates me that my blog is assisting them (perhaps).

I want to inspire you to discover literature first-hand, not give you short cuts so that you miss out on the true pleasure.

So, if you hit on this post because you Googled, "Billy's dog in Owls in the Family" or "Where did Billy find Wol" or "Where did Billy live in Owls in the Family", I hope you will consider that reading the chapter in the book is much more fun than reading this posting. But then, you probably quit reading this after the first sentence.
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