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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.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Putt Putt Boats, Part II

We continued our work on making putt putt steam-powered boats. After making vegetable-oil lamps to heat our boilers, we tested the little engines in a dish of water. Sure enough! It wasn't long before we heard a happy little putt-putt sound and the engine jumped in my hand.

Here we deviated quite a bit from the step-by-step instructions from and the kids got creative with their hull design. It is advised to secure your heat source better than we did (our vegetable oil dripped and things got a little greasy).

Lane's hull used the pattern from

See Putt Putt Boats, Part I

Faith that Changes

I'm praying for stronger, deeper faith.

In reading Tozer's Man: The Dwelling Place of God, I've taken time to examine myself. What does my faith mean to me anyway? What does it mean to God? It is a part of my identity, but does it have power?

"Plain horse sense ought to tell us that anything that makes no change in the man who professes it makes no difference to God either, and it is an easily observable fact that for countless numbers of persons the change from no-faith to faith makes no actual difference in the life."
So what is faith?
"It is not the 'believing' of a statement we know to be true. . . the very fact that [some] feel a necessity to seek proof for the truths of the Scriptures proves something else altogether, namely, their own basic unbelief. When God speaks unbelief asks, 'How shall I know that this is true?' I AM THAT I AM is the only grounds for faith. . . Faith as the Bible knows it is confidence in God and His Son Jesus Christ; it is the response of the soul to the divine character as revealed in the Scriptures; and even this response is impossible apart from the prior working of the Holy Spirit."

What changes are happening in my schedule because of my faith in God? What actions am I taking because I believe the Truth changes everything?

"I sought the LORD and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears." Psalm 34:4

Quotes from Tozer's Man: The Dwelling Place of God, chapter "Faith: The Misunderstood Doctrine"

Monday, August 29, 2011


"One thing is certain: the call of Christ is always a promotion. Were Christ to call a king from his throne to preach the gospel to some tribe of aborigines, that king would be elevated above anything he had known before. Any movement toward Christ is ascent, and any direction away from Him is down."
A. W. Tozer, Man-The Dwelling Place of God, Chapter 2 "The Call of Christ"
And, I might add, were Christ to call a college-educated woman from her rewarding career to preach the gospel daily through caring for and teaching her growing brood of children, that woman would be elevated above anything she had known before.
". . . Before God and the angels it is a great honor to follow Christ, but before men it is not so."

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Putt Putt Boats, Part I

We are making Putt Putt Boats as part of our study of the Industrial Revolution. Simple steam-powered engines are made from aluminum cans, flexible straws, epoxy, foil, and birthday candles. Here you see us working on the aluminum engine:

Carefully cut and folded. . .

. . . fitted with straws. . .

. . . sealed with epoxy . . .

. . .  checking for leaks.

Still to come: Finishing up the engines and making boat hulls.
(See Putt Putt Boats, Part II)

Buggy Day

Our leafy willow tree calls to the kids to crawl into her branches for adventures, which they gladly do. Not long ago they discovered a bug in the tree and cheerfully brought it into the dining room to show me.

Lane stood, dangling the thing by an antenna, and we quickly found a jar for the long-suffering beetle, after which the kids identified it with the insect book. It is now mounted for display in our school room.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Getting and Spending

We've been reading William Wordsworth's poetry in Morning Time this week.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
William Wordsworth observed a world around him--a world that, in 1804 when this was penned, included Napoleonic wars in Europe, Lewis and Clark exploring the Louisiana Purchase in the United States, and his homeland Britain securing power over the world's sea trade--that seemed to have lost its bearings.

The Industrial Revolution seemed to rob people of their souls. Wordsworth looks for restoration in Nature:
The Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.--Great God! I'd rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.

Belief in even silly myths, which must be how he viewed faith in Christ, seems to give greater satisfaction and joy than the world (not Nature) could offer.

The pantheistic impulses of the Romantic period are mostly passe today, but the deep loss that Wordsworth feels still exists today. We've given our hearts away! The things that should move us fail to do so.

May we find the satisfaction of our deepest longings not in Nature, but in the Creator, and see that there is a Creed that cannot be outworn, but perfectly describes reality in every age.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Romans 12:2

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Edwards Academy Kick-Off

"Expect great things from God; attempt great things for God."
-William Carey

"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure."
Philippians 2:12-13

Our 2011-2012 school year is into its second week, and we've adopted this rallying cry from William Carey as our school's theme for the year.

In our seventh year of homeschooling, we're studying the nineteenth century with Tapestry of Grace (Year 3). We continue to highly recommend Tapestry of Grace, which has been the backbone of our classical studies for these seven years, but have mixed up our other curriculum choices this year.

Here's a round-up of our students and studies:

Tobias (Kindergarten)
Math U See Primer
Veritas Press Phonics Museum
Tapestry of Grace literature and history selections
Plenty of library books, puzzles, playdough, watercolor painting, and free play
Physical Education class at the Y (but not until second semester, when he is 6 and eligible to enroll)

Lane (3rd grade)
Rod & Staff Mathematics Level 3
Rod & Staff English Level 3
Rod & Staff Spelling Level 3
Rod & Staff Reading Level 3
Alpha Omega LifePac Health
Apologia Science: Astronomy
Tapestry of Grace History, Geography, Writing and Literature
Physical Education class at the Y (twice a week)

Sydney and Hope (6th grade)
Saxon Math 76
Mother Tongue (OOP) English Grammar
Rod & Staff Spelling Level 6
Alpha Omega LifePac Health
Apologia Science: Astronomy
Tapestry of Grace History, Geography, Writing and Literature
Physical Education class at the Y (twice a week)

Because we have a kindergartener this year, as well as a toddler in the mix, we're trying a few new things in our schedule. Most of all, it is challenging to juggle the time I spend in active teaching, making sure that each student gets the instruction they need in addition to their self-study.

Toby Time
In our daily schedule, Toby follows up the first hour of school with 15 minutes spent with each of his older siblings. His "Activity Time" with Lane is often an outdoor recess break in our backyard, while the weather is appropriate. Alternate activities include puzzles, games, blocks, or other school-only toys. Following this, Hope and Sydney each spend 15 minutes reading books to Toby. This is a win-win, because as they read the Lower Grammar book selections from Tapestry of Grace to Toby, they are enriching their own study of history and literature. (If you think picture books are only for pre-readers, you're badly mistaken.)

Morning Time
This is the most significant addition to our homeschooling routine, and it is probably the best scheduling change I've ever made. I know, that sounds like hyperbole, but I mean it.

Morning Time (which I learned about from Cindy) is a catch-all name for about an hour and 45 minutes of our morning that is spent together, gathered around a table. For Cindy, Morning Time is an opportunity to cover several subjects, specifically art, composers and music, poetry, hymns, folk music, Plutarch, and Shakespeare. (For free Charlotte Mason reading list and curriculum plans, check out Ambleside Online. For more information about a Charlotte Mason education click here.) Our Morning Time varies a bit since we follow a slightly different emphasis with Tapestry of Grace.

Here's a glimpse into what we do in Morning Time, and specifically what we're studying this week:

Scripture Reading: Right now we are reading a chapter of Proverbs each day and discussing some of the verses as we read.


Hymn: "God of our Fathers." We sing the same hymn for roughly four weeks.

Pledge to the Flag

"All About Today" with Toby (a wall chart with the calendar, weather, etc.)

Poetry: This week we are reading "The Tyger" by William Blake each day. As I read the poem, the kids write down some observations about the poem in their notebooks. I ask them to consider something different about the poem each day, such as descriptive words, similes or metaphors, or rhyme scheme. Occasionally we'll have more than one poem in a week, but we'll repeat our poetry selection every day of the week.

Civics: I'm calling this category "Civics" because we are spending most of the year reading through the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments, including the Bill of Rights. We are using Our Living Constitution as a guide through this process, reading and discussing a little each week. For instance, this week we read Article I, sections 4-6, discussed what these sections mean and learned the names of the current House and Senate leaders, as well as the names of our state's Senators and Representatives, and their party.

Grammar Jingles and Sentences: We listen to the Shurley Grammar jingles and classify a few sentences together.

Composer and Music: This week we read about Beethoven and began listening to some of his most important pieces. Our composer choice is tied to our Tapestry of Grace studies, and we don't always have a new composer for the week. When we do, we read about him during Morning Time on Wednesday and the kids make a notebook page about him. We'll be listening to Beethoven at various times, during school hours or as we go about our family life this week.

Artists and Art: We are doing both art appreciation and art during Morning Time, on Tuesdays and Thursdays. We have a couple of different resources to help us study great artists and their works. For art class, we're using ARTistic Pursuits Grades 4-6 Book 1: The Elements of Art and Composition. So far, this is working very well. On art days, the kids work on their art project as they listen to me read aloud.

Read Alouds: We also use our Morning Time for Tapestry of Grace read-alouds. Sometimes this is the actual TOG read-aloud suggestion, sometimes I read selections from history "spine" books, sometimes I read books about the missionary or church history "hero," which is currently William Carey.

On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, when we do not have an art project, the kids work on penmenship, TOG map work, or add to their States and Presidents Notebook. This gives them something productive to do as they listen.

It is difficult to keep our kindergartener engaged during Morning Time, and sometimes he is more easily involved than other times. He is free to slip away from the table and play quietly on the floor with a puzzle or blocks for part of the time, and I also give him pattern blocks or watercolors to occupy him at the table at other times. Sometimes this is more effective, sometimes less!

Lydia, by the way, naps during Morning Time.


Lane is now nine years old, halfway to the culture's most significant milestone marking adulthood: eighteen. The halfway mark is far more meaningful to me than to Lane, who isn't looking back on the same nine years of memories and looking ahead into a stretch of nine unknown years. He's just thrilled to finally be nine, enjoy the fruits of this milestone (his birthday gifts) and to feel that he might be old enough to get some neighborhood respect. We're very proud of this boy and the young man he is shaping up to be.

The Art of Writing

In our first Truth Treasure Hunters meeting, we made quill pens. It turns out that cutting a good nib is no easy task, and a sharp penknife is a must. After discovering that there is a skill to cutting a good pen, and learning that new nibs needed to be cut after writing several lines of script, we gained new appreciation for the handwritten manuscripts of the past. Thank you, Mrs. M., for teaching and leading this activity.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Raising Boys Who Treasure the Life of the Mind

Wheaton College President Phil Ryken discusses the fact that men are vanishing from college campuses, a place where women are often over 60% of the student population. Without wishing to limit the opportunities for women, President Ryken offers some ideas for parents seeking to raise boys who value the life of the mind.

First Day of Classes: Where Are the Men? from The Gospel Coalition on Vimeo.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Of Creek Stomping and Pottery

One of the activities at Family Camp is "creek stomping." This amounts to wading through the cool waters of the creek that winds its way through camp property. All sorts of fun creatures can be found in the creek, but crawdads seem to be the most fun to catch. These critters were put back in the creek and didn't end up on our dinner plates, but incidentally my Parents' Night Out date-night entree at Buzzard Billy's in LaCrosse was--

"Chicken Atchafalaya
Crawfish tails sautéed in garlic and spices in a creamy Cajun brown sauce and ladled over a juicy blackened chicken breast. Served with rice and vegetables."

It was delicious. (Yes, crawfish and crawdads are the same thing--freshwater crustaceans. Sharon, if you are ever with us for Parent's Night Out, we'll avoid Buzzard Billy's!)

This year for the first time Village Creek had pottery wheels. Hope and Sydney got to try out throwing some clay on the wheel. An experienced instructor guided them through the process and they each succeeded in creating a small little dish.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Mighty to Save

For friends and family, here's my 12-year-old nephew Wesley's first YouTube video.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Who Invented Math?

Did people invent mathematics? Or did they merely discover it?

Mario Livio contemplates the issue in Scientific American--without crediting our Creator. Still, the astrophysicist's observations remind me that mathematics and the very laws of nature declare the glory of God:
This careful selection of problems and solutions [by mathematicians] only partially accounts for mathematics’s success in describing the laws of nature. Such laws must exist in the first place! Luckily for mathematicians and physicists alike, universal laws appear to govern our cosmos: an atom 12 billion light-years away behaves just like an atom on Earth; light in the distant past and light today share the same traits; and the same gravitational forces that shaped the universe’s initial structures hold sway over present-day galaxies. Mathematicians and physicists have invented the concept of symmetry to describe this kind of immunity to change.
Fascinating article that I think happens to reveal the inadequacy of naturalism as a worldview.

Read the whole thing here.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Family Camp 2011

We're back from our seventh annual family camp vacation at Village Creek Bible Camp and I can happily report that it just gets better every year. What mother of five (or four or three or two or one?) wouldn't love a week off from cooking and cleaning up? Who wouldn't appreciate a week with two family assistants, eager to help whenever and however they can? I feel refreshed, even though I came home physically exhausted!

Some snapshots from our time away:

Gaby, our sweet young staff assistant, took great care of Lydia this week. She stayed with her for naps and bedtime, freeing me up to be with the rest of the family and take part in activities.

Mr. Edwards helps Lane manage the 410 and shoot some trap.

Mr. Edwards and I took a kayak trip down the Mississippi River. This is one of our favorite camp activities. It is pretty relaxing kayaking (especially when one's husband is truly doing all the work in back!) as the current carries us along.


I wasn't fast enough to get a photo of the bald eagles that we saw flying by, but I did get a picture of a nest.

Although we cross the main channel twice (back and forth), we mostly navigate through the quiet backwaters of the mighty river. It is beautiful.

My sister Jen shared a kayak with her son, Wesley.

Lydia and I rode with the rest of the family on the hay-rack up to "trail breakfast," a family camp tradition of breakfast in the woods with "heart attack toast" toasted on a griddle over a fire.

The four older Edwards kids went creek stomping with Connor, our staff assistant (seen in the background).

Toby is making it an annual tradition to fall asleep at dinner!

In the face of a rainy afternoon we played cards with friends and family. Our kids were off enjoying camp activities with staff assistants.

Lane got a couple of hits in the inter-generational softball game (Lane is the batter in the picture above and Uncle Jason is pitching).

Mr. Edwards  helped Toby with some trap shooting. The stock was too long for him, but he still loved it!

Hope had a marvelous camp week roaming around camp with friends. Here you see her with plenty of wildflowers in her hair. She tackled a steep hike three times in one day, exhausting the staff assistant that went along!

Sydney and Lydia tried out the hammock during the softball game.

This year Lane passed the swim test for the deep part of the swimming lake. With this under his belt, he was free to use the high dive. In spite of his slight physique, he was a finalist in the splash contest!

The boys tried ice blocking for the first time this year.

All the kids love the rope swing (Hope is shown in the picture above), and this year the three older kids did the Blob (but I didn't get pictures of that achievement).

Hope took a dive several times. Our local pool at home doesn't have diving boards, so this is a real treat for her.

The gun range was a busy place this year. Mr. Edwards shot his pistol and other friends were nearby, firing their guns.  

A highlight of every camp year is Parents Night Out. We went to LaCrosse, Wisconsin with five other couples and walked along the riverfront after dinner.

We took our annual parting photo at the Village Creek sign and our beloved assistants Connor and Gaby stood with us.

This year we left our daughters behind for a week of junior camp.
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