Imparting a classical education at home. Check out the Edwards Academy.

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.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Tears of the Saints

“I would rather die now than to live a life of oblivious ease in so sick a world.”– Nate Saint



Found through @NationsBeGlad.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Blab School?

The d'Aulaire's put it this way:
There they [Abe and his schoolmates] sat together, big and small, reading and writing and reckoning aloud, all at one time together. There was such a chatter that it could be heard a long way off. But when Abe was six years old he had learned both to read and write.
And the biographer Carl Sandburg said it this way:
In a log schoolhouse with a dirt floor and one door, seated on puncheon benches with no backs, they learned the alphabet A to Z and numbers one to ten. It was called a "blab school": the pupils before reciting read their lessons out loud to themselves to show they were busy studying.
This does not describe our method, but it seems to describe our outcome. I'm walking Lane through a literature worksheet, Sydney's reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear to Toby aloud, and Hope is mumbling about the grammar sentences she's working on. Whenever this happens, I always remember these lines from the two best Lincoln biographies I know of: Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire and Abraham Lincoln: The Prairie Years and the War Years by Carl Sandburg, the first a picture book for children and the second a single-volume version of Sandburg's original multi-volume biography.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Pharaohs and Pyramids

Tapestry of Grace, Year 1, Week 2:


Our second week of school focused on the Pharaohs and Pyramids of Egypt. We looked pretty closely at the Egyptian religious beliefs, particularly those associated with death and burial customs. We also read the first five chapters of Exodus (notice the flannel figures in the picture--the kids love playing with them). We also started our Homeschool in the Woods timeline images this week. There were so many for the Egyptian dynasties that we couldn't fit them all on the page of our TOG workbooks. To solve the problem, we glued the images onto sentence strips. We were careful to get the chronology correct but didn't worry about the timeline scale. You can also see that we painted our Egypt salt-dough maps this week.

On Friday we got together with another family to work on tomb paintings. Lane (first grade) painted the Egyptian god of embalming Anubis weighing the heart on a scale (right) and Caleb (sixth grade) painted Anubis leading the dead man by the hand (left).



Sydney, Hope, and their friend Addy painted this tomb painting. (They are all fourth graders.)



Toby and his friend Kaity painted this one (Toby is 3 and 1/2 and Kaity, 5, is in kindergarten.)



For more pictures of the kids painting, check out the German family's blog here, here, and here.

Lane's Seven!

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Lines of Literature: Good-Bye, Mr. Chips

I thoroughly enjoyed reading Good-Bye, Mr. Chips, a novella by James Hilton, this week. It is a touching tale of an aging schoolteacher, Mr. Chipping, in fin-de-siecle England.
. . . And once Chips had got into trouble because of some joke he had made about a boy's name. The boy wrote home about it, and his father sent an angry letter to Ralston. Touchy, no sense of humor, no sense of proportion--that was the matter with them, these new fellows. . . . No sense of proportion. And it was a sense of proportion, above all things, that Brookfield ought to teach--not so much Latin or Greek or Chemistry or Mechanics. And you couldn't expect to test that sense of proportion by setting papers and granting certificates. . . ."

"His room was furnished simply and with school masterly taste: a few bookshelves and sporting trophies; . . The books were chiefly classical, the classic having been his subject; there was, however, a seasoning of history and belles-lettres. There was also a bottom shelf piled up with cheap editions of detective novels. Chips enjoyed these. Sometimes he took down Vergil or Xenophon and read for a few moments, but he was soon back again with Doctor Thorndyke or Inspector French. he was no, despite his long years of assiduous teaching, a very profound classical scholar; indeed, he thought of Latin and Greek far more as dead languages from which English gentlemen ought to know a few quotations than as living tongues that had ever been spoken by living people. He liked those short leading articles in the Times that introduced a few tags that he recognized. To be among the dwindling number of people who understood such things was to him a kind of secret and valued freemasonry; it represented, he felt, one of the chief benefits to be derived from a classical education."
Good-Bye, Mr. Chips was a fun read, easily conquered in one evening. I'm guessing, however, that it will soon be a totally forgotten book. Chockablock with allusions to British history, sport, and culture that were probably common knowledge in 1934, it's an easy read but most readers of my generation will not recognize the allusions, or have the patience for them. I jotted down things that puzzled me and, thanks to Google, had a good time tracking them all down. Now, to see the movie.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

I Need Thee Every Hour

Thanks to the offhand remark of a friend,* we've chosen the hymn I Need Thee Every Hour for our hymn of the month. We begin our school days singing it together. I especially like verse two:
I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their power when Thou art nigh.
I need Thee, O I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
O bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
My morning devotions today seemed to be shouting this truth into my soul: I desperately want to bring glory and honor to God in my life and breath, but I'm incapable of doing so unless Jesus enables me.
As your name, O God, so your praise reaches to the ends of the earth. Psalm 48:10
May your Name be praised with my life and breath. I need you , Lord Jesus, for without Your Holy Spirit at work in me I am no glory or praise to your Name. I cannot bring praise in my own power...give Your Spirit generously to me today that I might be able to bring back praise to You. Forgive me for thinking, believing, behaving as if I am capable of bringing you anything!
Praise be Your Name!
It reaches to the heights but bends low to pour grace over me!

Who among you fears the LORD
and obeys the voice of his servant?
Let him who walks in darkness
and has no light
trust in the name of the LORD
and rely on his God.
Behold, all you who kindle a fire,
who equip yourselves with burning torches!
Walk by the light of your fire,
and by the torches that you have kindled!
This you have from my hand:
you shall lie down in torment.
Isaiah 50:10-11 (Click here to read this passage in several versions.)
How often I have kindled my own fire, lit my own torches, and compassed my way according to my own equipment of light! How do I expect to make any progress, let alone bring praise and glory and honor to You, when I am following my own fire, blazing my own trail?
You know the destination reached by all of us who walk among our own firebrands, who see by the flicker of our own flames.
It is only torment.
It is prostration.
But You bring illumination in the voice of your Servant:
"I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." (John 8:12)
Let me fear the LORD!
Let me obey His Servant!
May I trust in the LORD's Name for my path--
for you, O LORD, will not lead me to torment,
but to righteousness!

*Thanks, Heather!

Friday, August 14, 2009

Curtain Rises on Egypt

Here's a glance at our Tapestry of Grace Year 1, Week 1:



Toby's puzzle has nothing to do with Tapestry studies, but his puzzles were a lifesaver for me this week! We read part or all of each of these books; the artwork shown includes both tracing and freehand pieces; each of the school kids did all three maps, and some of the other written work, as well as salt-dough maps aren't shown.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Lines of Literature: Persuasion Part II

So much for reading only during recess! I finished reading Persuasion last night, after reading it most of the afternoon as well. By ten o'clock last night I was all wrapped up in the world of Anne Elliot, waiting for her Captain to finally confess his constant love for her, even after eight years have passed. It was inconceivable to put it down with only a few chapters left...

I finished before eleven. It was worth it. I may update later with some more quotes.

A New Start

With the start of our 2009-2010 school year, Mr. Edwards and I are making some changes to our routine. We're only four days in, but we're hoping to get our habits in place before we add more to our schedule, such as BSF and AWANA (three nights a week).

Physical Training
Physical training is of some value, Paul says, but the fact is that I live my life not valuing it at all. For a while now I've wished I was exercising, but couldn't figure out how to get it done in my routine. Like anything that we finally commit to doing, I've been thinking about it for a long time. I've also been inspired by others such as Susie, Tina, Amy R., Michelle L., Diana, and even Hillary, my neighbor who I see running on a regular basis. I've never been much of an athlete, but what encouraged me most of all was hearing Tina's and Michelle's stories and realizing that it isn't about having intrinsic athletic skills (although they might, I don't know). It is about training.

I found this training program for beginning runners and have started following it.

Mr. Edwards is also back to walking and running, but he chooses the treadmill in the evening.

Spiritual Training
A big reason I have never exercised regularly is boredom. The treadmill is unbearable to me for this reason (Mr. Edwards watches a movie, but that doesn't always distract me enough!). However, I'm listening to podcasts as I walk and run through our neighborhood and the thirty minutes seem to fly by. A Sunday sermon by John Piper or Mark Driscoll is about 50 minutes; hopefully I'll work my way up to running for a full sermon.

Meanwhile, Mr. Edwards is also listening to the Wayne Grudem Systematic Theology podcasts I mentioned in an earlier post. He listens in the car to and from work and now our dinner conversation is dominated by doctrinal discussions, with a little bit of the day's politics thrown in.

Daddy-Daughter Nights
We booked up our iCal calendar for the school year with most of our recurring commitments--BSF and AWANA, for example--and at the same time booked up Thursdays for "Daddy-Daughter Night." Mr. Edwards is spending each Thursday with one of our daughters, switching off each week. Last week he baked cookies with Sydney. Tonight he'll be baking a cake with Hope. It might be that they go out for dessert, or maybe just a board game at the dining room table, but it will be one-on-one daddy-daughter time.

I'm praying that we can follow through on these changes to our routine and stick with them, even as our school year gets busier. What shifts are you making this fall?

(Edited 8/15/09)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Lines of Literature: Persuasion


After watching the BBC movie Persuasion last weekend (thanks, April!), I'm reading Jane Austen's novel on which it is based. This is a novel that I've had around for years and picked up repeatedly, especially after a re-reading of Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility, when I craved more Austen. It no doubt reflects poorly on me that I could never stick with Persuasion. However, after watching the movie adaptation (the YouTube clip above was made by a fan and nicely summarizes the film) I took on the book once again.

I'm just starting (reading during recess time doesn't get you very far) but already have some fun quotes to share:

About Anne's upcoming visit to another town:
"...she believed she must now submit to feel that another lesson, in the art of knowing our own nothingness beyond our own circle, was become necessary for her;"

About Anne's brother-in-law, Charles Musgrove, a man married to Anne's younger sister Mary:
"Charles Musgrove was civil and agreeable; in sense and temper he was undoubtedly superior to his wife; but not of powers, or conversation, or grace, to make the past, as they were connected together, at all a dangerous contemplation; though, at the same time, Anne could believe, with Lady Russell, that a more equal match might have greatly improved him; and that a woman of real understanding might have given more consequence to his character, and more usefulness, rationality, and elegance to his habits and pursuits."
This made me wonder: am I the sort of wife that is "a woman of real understanding," the sort of woman that brings more consequence to my husband's character? I pray so.

Anne tried to encourage Mary to stay home with her son, rather than go out, after his collar-bone injury, but Mary selfishly dismissed the idea:
[Anne said,] "Nursing does not belong to a man, it is not his province. A sick child is always the mother's property, her own feelings generally make it so."
"I hope I am as fond of my child as any mother--but I do not know what I am of any more use in the sick-room than Charles..."
"But, could you be comfortable yourself, to be spending the whole evening away from the poor boy?"
"Yes; you see his papa can, and why should not I?"
Mary seems pathetic, but how many times have I been glad for Mr. Edwards to stay home with a sick one? Too many to count, I'm afraid!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Back to School

After a full summer break, it is time to start school again. We had a marvelous summer, although I didn't get everything on my summer to-do list completed, I made a dent in it and we did many other things I didn't anticipate.

This Monday we begin the 2009-2010 school year. The day inspires eager anticipation in some and dread in others, but either way it is coming! I've been preparing for it off and on all summer long.

We are going back to the beginning with Tapestry of Grace. After teaching all four years of Tapestry of Grace's Classic version of curriculum, we are going back to the ancients with Tapestry of Grace Redesigned Digital edition. I still have my beloved Classic edition in notebooks, so I choose the digital redesign instead of the print edition. I have mixed feelings about digital, but in the end think it is a good option if you have a way to cheaply print off pages and pages of valuable curriculum. Plenty of blogs and websites have commented on the differences between TOG print and digital, classic and redesigned, so I won't do that here.

Edwards Academy students are in grade four, grade one and preschool this year, which means I'm still teaching TOG upper and lower grammar levels. For the most part, I'm in a very good groove using TOG curriculum and don't plan on major changes to how we implement this in our family. I did, however, change the way I record my lesson plans and made some minor changes to the kids' notebooks.
I've used handwritten lesson plan books before, but last year I made my lesson plans in Word document assignment sheets that I then printed out for the kids. It worked well for me, but took a lot of time. Although I tried to do it nine weeks at a time, tweaking was always in order and sometimes Monday mornings rolled around and my lesson plans/assignment sheets weren't ready. This year I have gone back to handwritten planning, using lesson plan templates from DonnaYoung.org. Using the ProClick binders (that we use for TOG student notebooks as well) I decided to make my own lesson plan book. I used the two-page per week lesson plan grid and inserted between the pages of a week the TOG reading assignment pages, the TOG weekly overview pages, and the TOG writing assignment page for our two writing levels (1 and 4). I trimmed the margins of the TOG pages so that it is easy for me to flip around within the two lesson plan pages of any given week.


Also, I trimmed the writing assignment page even further, keeping the most essential column, but trimming off the other side so that the other pages are more visible and accessible.

As you see below, the three TOG pages are sandwiched between the two-page per week lesson plan sheets. This is exceedingly handy for me. We'll be using the TOG vocab list this year for handwriting copy work and so much of the info on these three pages are essential to refer back to throughout the week that I wanted them very handy, without having to re-type or re-write lists and details.


Last year we began making student notebooks for each unit of Tapestry of Grace (one notebook per quarter) using the ProClick binders. ProClick bindings can be re-opened so it is very easy to add pages in later. You've probably seen student workbooks like this before, if you are a TOG user, since it has become a very popular way of using TOG and Charlotte Mason-style notebooking.

Our student notebooks are separated into week-plan sections using colored card stock. The week's section begins with a blank cover sheet from Notebookingpages.com. These free pages, made specifically for Tapestry of Grace, give space for jotting down vocab words, pasting in our Homeschooling in the Woods time line images, or even pasting in lapbooking-style flaps and pockets. On the back side of this cover sheet, I printed blank assignment sheet forms.


This form (shown above, click to enlarge) is a revised version of the assignment sheets that I made last year, completed in advance for Academy students. Tapestry of Grace actually recommends that students keep their own assignment sheets and this is a typical expectation of traditional school students, to be sure. A friend of mine suggested creating a boiler-plate assignment template that would make the process of the "Monday morning meeting" a bit easier and quicker. I loved her idea. With this form, we should be able to quickly go through the week's assignments as the kids fill in page numbers where possible and write longer items when necessary.

The rest of the student notebook has the TOG student activity pages for their level (including literature worksheets), the TOG maps for the week, the TOG writing helps needed that week (such as clustering diagrams, etc.), blank writing pages for writing assignments and dictation, as well as dictation grading forms, and any other supplemental material. For instance, I often pull extra things from sites like Homeschoolshare.com that go along with the literature selection. In the picture above you can see that I place the blank TOG MapAids map for their level opposite the Map Aids teacher map. I've found that the kids are best able to color and label their maps using the teacher map. It is the process of copying and coloring that helps them remember the places.

Below you see blank lined pages for writing assignments as well as a report grid form (from Writing Aids).


As Mr. Edwards might say, we're locked and loaded, ready to fire! It is easy to get wrapped up in the details, the methods, the curricula, but may we never lose sight of the target:

Note: I'm updating the sidebar with our current year curriculum choices, if you are interested in comparing notes. I love reading what others are using and thought I would return the favor.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Doctrine on Audio

Do you have Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology? This is a great, albeit a bit intimidating to some, book. I use it as a reference and enjoy reading chapters on various subjects, but what I'd really like to do is study it with my husband. Mr. Edwards is interested in the subject, but not keen on reading, studying, and answering discussion questions on the 1,291 pages!

I was very excited, then, to stumble across this Podcast of Wayne Grudem teaching his own book! There are about 110 episodes of lectures. We can listen to them on iPods or burn them to CDs for easier listening in the car. I listened to the first lecture about the Old Testament canon yesterday as I did some housework and Mr. Edwards plans to listen today in the car on his way home from work.

Is "systematic theology" a new term for you? It is simply a method of studying everything the Bible teaches on a subject. Systematic theology, then, looks at topics such as sin, man, Christ, angels, Scripture, the new heaven and new earth, etc., and examines everything that the Bible says about the subject and then develops a doctrine from Scripture's teaching on the subject.

Apologetics315.com - Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology - Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

The Case for Early Marriage

This article, by Albert Mohler, is well worth your time. For parents of sons and daughters, but perhaps particularly for parents of sons, it is a good food for thought.

Does it make any sense to teach abstinence to Christian teens but then tacitly discourage them from marrying young? According to the article the median age for first marriage is 26 for women and 28 for men, up five years from 1970. Mohler quotes sociologist and author Mark Regnerus, "That's five additional, long years of peak sexual interest and fertility."

The problem is that serious Christian women tend to outnumber serious Christian men (about three women for every two men). The article doesn't discuss how this might impact one's parenting, but it reminds me that I want my sons to know that marriage is wonderful and fulfilling.

It's Getting Really Difficult, Part II

(This post is a follow-up to this one; you may want to read it first.)

I still think it is getting really difficult to wisely guide my twin daughters, but you might be interested in knowing that when Mr. Edwards and I talked it over, he thought I was over-reacting. My "the next ten years are going to be really hard" comment prompted him to say, "No it won't. Once they're driving they'll just do their own thing, go where they want and have their own friends."

I looked at him, amazed.

As for my explanation that they are beginning to be increasingly jealous of one another and of relationships ("For the first time they are each beginning to want their friends to love only them and not their sister as much."), Mr. Edwards looked at me, mystified. "This isn't a twin thing," he told me, "this is a friendship problem."

"But," I protested, "I had enough trouble as a girl getting along with my sister, at least she wasn't taking my friends!"

Mr. Edwards just smiled at me.

"Okay," I told him, "I'll trust you that I'm over-reacting about this but you need to trust me that it really is a hard thing for them." He smiled.

"One thing is sure!" I finished up because he was on the way out the door to work, "You've never been a little girl!"

The corners of his mouth curled up. "You've got that right! I've always been kinda proud of that!"

And he was off.

There is something just so perfect about the combined parenting of man and wife, father and mother, isn't there?

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

It's Getting Really Difficult

The waters of motherhood are getting much deeper, and my oldest two are just nine years old.

First of all, isn't this brilliant? Look at these sisters having such a wonderful time with their rich imaginations.



Being a twin is something most girls dream of, but the reality isn't always a picnic. Of course, most of the time it is a huge gift of constant, loving friendship. Sydney and Hope have great times together and their love for each other is deep. But sometimes being a twin is just a really raw deal. And being the mother of twins is hard, too, because I feel inadequate in helping them meet the challenges.

Jealousy between them seems to be growing. Suddenly it hurts them inside that all their friends are "our friend" rather than "my friend." I think I should advise them to let go of some friends and let friendship grow more with one or the other, but I see the pain in their eyes when they think that they might not be the sister that their friend prefers.

They are older now, and wiser, and beginning to see their own strengths--and weaknesses--relative to their sister. It doesn't cheer them that they have different strengths from each other, because human nature makes us shrug off our advantages as meaningless and focus on our disadvantages.

I tell them to leave behind the jealousy, that God doesn't compare them to each other, that it is okay to have different friends, that Daddy and I love them both no matter what, that being born two minutes ahead (or behind) means nothing, that it is a gift to have this struggle because God will use it to refine them and purify them.

I want to put it in perspective and remind them that life is hard, people suffer much greater things, this is petty, just get over it. But I remember being nine. I remember being the friend that was left behind for another. I know that the wisdom of perspective cannot be attained like factual knowledge. "Okay mom, you're right, it's petty. How silly of me to be jealous..." is just not something they are going to say or realize because I tell them it's true.

I think I'm in for a tough ten years. The tears are pricking behind my eyes as I think about it. This is a job that is too hard for me, Jesus. I'm not good at it. I can't do it. I hugged my girls earlier and advised them that, "It's hard to be a twin, but it is a blessing to be faced with hard things. If you weren't it would be much harder for you to see your need for Jesus to heal you." I told them each about the verse that I read yesterday about our great God:
And the LORD will make himself known to the Egyptians, and the Egyptians will know the LORD in that day and worship with sacrifice and offering, and they will make vows to the LORD and perform them. And the LORD will strike Egypt, striking and healing, and they will return to the LORD, and he will listen to their pleas for mercy and heal them. Isaiah 19:21-22 (ESV)
This prophecy is about Egypt, but it teaches me something important about God. He wants me to cry for mercy and healing. He is willing to strike so that He might heal! So that I might worship! I tried to help Hope and Sydney see that if hard things like hurt feelings and besetting sins give us an opportunity to see God's healing hand in our lives, then we can rest in Him and depend upon Him in prayer.

I pray that they will begin to see that this is true and experience that it is true as they go through these deep waters. I'm right there next to them in prayer, rejoicing that God is sanctifying me through the difficulties of motherhood, pleading for his help because apart from Him I am totally at a loss to give my precious twin daughters any wisdom. Help me, Jesus!
Here I am in the easy years, so thrilled to be a mother of twins.

Family Camp 2009

We are recovering this week from our fifth year at family camp. As I said last year, there are plenty of reasons why we make the long drive to northeast Iowa for a week of camp. One of them is the great summer staff. This year our family was matched with Kayla, a full-time summer staffer, and Ryan, a "jumper." Village Creek Bible Camp does such an excellent job of training and discipling the young people that serve as counselors and helpers. I am always thrilled with the role model they provide to our children. It is amazing to see all the teens and college students that work at Village Creek cheerfully serving during family camp. They work hard but I never see them complain or argue or protest when they are asked to do something.


It is a testament to the work of God in my life that I keep on track with my morning devotions at camp. The first year or two we were there I took the week off, figuring with two chapels each day I was okay, but not anymore. We had some chilly weather in the mornings so I often had my coffee with the Lord inside, but on this morning Sydney came outside to find me here. She decided to take my picture. From my spot on the blanket I had a view of the playground and, across the creek, a misty field where deer are often wandering around.

Hope and Sydney enjoyed the craft room again this year. (I say craft room, but here you see them working outside.)



I know I told you about the men and boys breakfast last year, but it is such a fun thing for our boys, I have to mention it again. This was Toby's first year to go, although Mr. Edwards told me that his little legs lagged behind. Mr. Edwards and Toby didn't "charge the hill" as quickly as the crowd, but Lane kept up. For the men and boys breakfast, the guys meet at the camp's teepee (sorry, I don't have a picture of it for some reason) and have their faces painted before the run up the hill to eat breakfast in the woods. I didn't know, until he emerged from our room in the morning, that Lane had brought along his beloved army ammo-holder vest that he got from Uncle Jason.


Lane loved canoeing this year. In this picture you see him with his friend Markus and Mrs. L.


Toby climbed the tree net this year--or at least attempted to. The staff pulled him up a bit, but he did some of the climbing on his own. He asked to do it and they told us he was probably the littlest one to do it this summer. Toby is such a contrast to our other kids who never would have dared to do such a thing at three years old. The upside to being the youngest, I guess, is being bold to try new things sooner.

Monday, August 3, 2009

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