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, December 1, 2012

Freezer Cook BIG

BIG news!

Recently I partnered with a friend to launch FreezerCookBIG.com, a website inspired by our freezer-cooking adventures together. I blogged about our first freezer cooking adventure over a year ago and since that time Tina and I have kept our freezers full of great meals for our families. We like to freezer cook BIG, which means we need a spreadsheet to manage our planning process.

Tina
We're so excited to make that can't-do-it-without-it spreadsheet tool and our e-book pdf "Make Dinner Easy" available on our new website. At FreezerCookBIG.com you'll find our planning package, great free printable downloads, and we're adding free recipe downloads and other helpful content all the time.
Amy

Not only that, FreezerCookBIG is collecting the best of the best in our Pinterest boards. Find us at our website, FreezerCookBIG.com or on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube (yes, we have videos and new ones are coming), and, of course, Pinterest.

Check it out!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

That's Progress!

We're studying the Progressive Era in the Edwards Academy, but it almost feels like we're studying current events. Progressive ideology is increasingly carrying the day, at the expense of individual liberty. Hope and Sydney have been thinking through the pros and cons of Woodrow Wilson's Progressivism, taking an honest look at the good that came of it, and a hard look at the harm that has been done by it.

In short, Progressives saw problems in American society that they sought to solve through government intervention. Because American Constitutional government was limited in its power, Progressives were limited in their ability to accomplish social reforms without re-imagining the Constitution to be a "living" document, a system that should adapt to the times. Government action is costly, so the Constitution was amended in 1913 to enable the federal government to collect income tax. 

We set aside our studies for our lunch break today and I read this news headline to the kids: "NYC Board of Health passes big-soda crackdown rule." I explained that in New York City they now have a 16-ounce size limit on sugary drinks served in restaurants, movie-houses, and concession stands.  Why? Because they believe that people are too fat and unhealthy, partly because they don't say "no" to high-calorie drinks.

Sydney responded, "That's Progressive!"

Lane asked, "Well, if they think that sugary drinks are bad for you, why do they allow alcohol?"

Thursday, September 6, 2012

The Narrative

I'm seeing a lot of word cloud visuals for the major political party convention speeches lately. Looming large in everyone's speeches, for Democrats and Republicans, are words like "president," "America," "Obama," "Mitt," and "government." I'd like to see some word cloud analysis on the words of the television anchors and analysts, reporters and pundits. I'm betting that this phrase would loom large: "CREATE A NARRATIVE."

Yesterday's spin is today's narrative. This is more than a turn-of-phrase. It is a revelation of worldview. And everything comes down to your narrative. In spite of the popularity of journalistic fact-checkers, the media that shapes our interpretation of the news events is hardly focused on facts. Instead, it is all about the narrative. 

The media tells us that there is a GOP narrative, a Democrat narrative, a Romney narrative, an Obama narrative, a Ryan narrative, and, well, even Biden has a narrative (and it isn't a happy one). Like sports analysts before the game telling us what the quarterback must do to win the game, pundits tell us what sort of narrative the politician must create in order to win over voters. 

What if the brilliant narrative created by the speaker doesn't match reality? No matter. In this post-modern age, the reality of a speaker's belief system takes a back seat to their narrative. If the narrative isn't polling well, politicians scramble to shift the narrative. When the Democratic party platform failed to affirm Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and failed to mention "God-given potential" it rightly upset a lot of Americans. To remedy the situation, Democrats scrambled to amend the platform and shift the narrative. Did it change the beliefs of President Obama, who has been pretty candid about not affirming Jerusalem as the capital? Not at all. Did it even reflect the sentiments of the delegates who, when asked to vote on the amendment, did not cooperate with the new narrative (in three tries the nays were at least equal to the ayes). Not really.

Tonight we hear from President Obama. Recent news reports have revealed that he has struggled to govern, struggled to lead the executive branch, and struggled to form relationships with people in government in order to get things done. This isn't a narrative that he must struggle to overcome. This is the reality of his administration.

In spite of this, I expect to hear a masterful narrative tonight and I expect that the media will expound enthusiastically on the narrative that our President has managed to craft.



Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Advice from Lord Kitchener

This week in Edwards Academy we kick off our study of the Great War, the one that was supposed to end all wars.

The kids are working on drawing some propaganda posters from the period and Lane chose this one, which pictures Lord Kitchener urging you to carry on.

It has none of the soothing "keep calm" that appeared on British propaganda posters in World War II, but I find it to be timeless advice and particularly applicable to Edwards Academy students.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Mothering Math

The odometer on our old Suburban is closing in on 200,000 miles. Sometimes when I'm driving around town, watching the dial tick closer to the 200k mark, I start reflecting about all the milestones we're passing this year.

 This is the summer before our oldest children start seventh grade. This means, I was startled to realize, that they are two-thirds of the way to 18--and halfway through their formal pre-college schooling (okay, I know you know I started formal schooling with them early because I was eager, but these days I don't count kindergarten as "formal.") Their elementary years are past and they are on to upper school.

Our son Lane will soon be ten, but for now he's halfway to 18 and half-way through elementary school.

Tobias is just getting started.

 And Lydia? Well, I've got a lot of milestones yet to mark. I've had 12 years of mothering children under 12 and by God's grace I'll have 18 years of mothering teens.

It seems like a big deal that our oldest are moving into their adolescence. When I left the hospital twelve years ago with a baby in each arm, I was brimming with confidence. These days I know that I'm not at all up to the task of being a godly mother!

  I'm reading Paul Tripp's Age of Opportunity: A Biblical Guide to Parenting Teens in search of some biblical wisdom to help me in the next eighteen years of mothering.
"The tumult of the teen years is not only about the attitudes and actions of teens, but the thoughts, desires, attitudes, and actions of parents as well. The teen years are hard for us because they tend to bring out the worst in us...These years are hard for us because they expose the wrong thoughts and desires of our own hearts. (p. 17)
 "However, it is my experience that when parents begin to recognize, own, confess, and turn from their own wrong heart attitudes and the wrong actions that flow from them, the result is a marked difference in their relationship to their teen and in the way they view the struggles of the teen years. When we look with concerned eyes toward the teen years, we need to look not only at our children, but also at ourselves. Parents who are humbly willing to change, position themselves to be God's instruments of change." (p. 18-19)
Tripp identifies several idols that parents tend to worship that keep them from godly parenting, particularly in the teen years. One of these idols is control.
"In the early years of parenting, we were in control of everything, and although we complained about the stress of it all, we liked having the power! There is a little that an infant chooses to do, other than spontaneous bodily functions. We chose their food, times of rest, manner of physical exercise, what they saw and heard, where they went, who their friends were, and the list could go on and on..." (p. 37)
I'm intentionally and purposefully trying to let go of some of my control over my older kids, but Tripp is correct--the idol of control creeps up on you. In fact, you may not believe this is really an idol for you until you feel the control that you once held slipping through your fingers. It was all an illusion anyway, so the sooner I surrender that control to Jesus, the better. The sovereign God, the Lord of lords, is the only One in control and who could be a better keeper of my children?

May God give me the wisdom to see my own wrong heart attitudes and wrong actions, the grace to have a repentant heart, and the mercy of forgiveness as I embark on the next season of mothering.


Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Lake Holiday

We are back from a second annual trip to Toronto Lake, where we spent five days with family. We are blessed to be able to vacation at the lake with both sets of grandparents, my aunt and uncle, and my sister and her family.

We rent some cabins in the state park and bring Grandpa Shimer's ski boat and Grandpa Edwards's fishing boat with us. Here you can see Sydney standing on the rocks outside our cabin, which gives a great view of the lake. Toronto Lake is located in a part of Kansas that looks nothing like you imagine with you think of Kansas. On our first day there the temperature was only in the upper 60s, so we spent the day off the water.


Grandma and Grandpa Shimer had a wonderful patio outside of their cabin where they hosted lunch and dinner each day. My mom (Grandma) manages all the food for us, which is no small task for 18 people! Not only does she do a fabulous job, but we eat like we are at a resort hotel!


The kids did a nature scavenger hunt on the chilly day. Thank you, Pinterest!



Shish-ka-bobs cooked on the fire.


Quiet morning on the cabin porch.


Toby's big catch!


Here's a long shot of Sydney on the kneeboard, cruising along adjusting her life jacket. I try not to take too many pictures of the kids on the kneeboard and towables, and yet somehow I have a lot of some kids and few of others. I couldn't find a close-up shot of Sydney.



Grandpa Edwards and Toby came over on the fishing boat to show off Toby's catch. Afterward, Hope got on the kneeboard and waved over at their boat. As Grandma Shimer said, she's ready for Busch Gardens!


Toby and Grandpa in the background.


Lane, before grabbing the tow rope, giving the thumbs up!


Mr. Edwards, across the wake and enjoying the smooth water!


I'm throwing this one in just to prove that I got out there and did it!


Lydia enjoying her wading pool at the cabin.


Mr. Edwards finally tossed off Lane and Nathan, the two silliest cousins you'll ever know! Nathan was out there begging for waves and speed and Lane was out there calling for us to slow down! As much as he was afraid, he always climbed in the boat saying, "Awesome!"


Toby loved riding on the towables. Here he is with Wesley.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to Hope and Sydney and their cousin Wesley. We celebrated their birthdays together with family on Mother's Day weekend. The girls are 12 and Wesley is 13!










Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spring

Our spring has been beautiful and busy, which explains why I haven't posted much here on the blog!

Here are some recent pictures of Hope and Sydney and I before going to a banquet with Grandma Edwards (the girls are pictures with her below). The banquet had a fun black-and-white theme.  The pictures of Lane and Toby, at the end, and of Lydia, above, were taken on Easter.





Thursday, March 15, 2012

Competing

Recently the kids competed in the Awana Games. Hope and Sydney's team took first on their circle, Lane's team took second.










Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Bill Maher Swings and Misses

Homeschooling is often the target of ad hominem attacks from those who disapprove of parents teaching their children at home. This latest from Bill Maher, infamous for his foul mouth, is particularly laughable:
"Rick Santorum homeschools his children because he does not want them eating [from the Tree of Knowledge]. He wants them locked up in the Christian madrassa that is the family living room not out in public where they could be infected by the virus of reason."
Read more here.

Bill Maher may think that the beliefs of Christian homeschoolers are foolish, but one thing is certain: Christian homeschoolers are not insulated from opposing ideas.

Rick Santorum responded to this by saying,
"All of a sudden, if you're instilling faith and teaching them about God in your home, you're a madrassa, according to these folks, and as if reason doesn't take place in the home. Our -- our children will out-reason him -- my 12-year-old will out-reason Bill Maher when it comes to understanding, you know, what, you know, how logic works because he is completely illogical." (On Fox News' Hannity 3/12, quoted here.)
I'm confident that this was no idle remark. While I don't know how the Santorums homeschool, many homeschooling families teach logic to their 12-year-olds, and I would imagine that his son is studying formal logic right now. It takes work to learn to build arguments and refute opposing views. It is so much easier to simply smear and mock, which is Bill Maher's bread-and-butter.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Santorum Wins Kansas Caucuses

If Rick Santorum holds a campaign rally near you, GO see him!

We had a great experience meeting the Santorums last Friday, ahead of the Kansas Caucuses on Saturday. He tries to shake everyone's hand and post for pictures with all who ask. Mr. Edwards and I were very impressed with Senator Santorum, who spoke for roughly half-an-hour without notes or a teleprompter. He is very substantive and gives wide-ranging speeches that explain policy and principle.

Santorum doggedly stands for freedom. He understands that our nation was founded on the idea that our rights are inalienable and freedoms are not granted by government, but protected by government. For more about that, check out this piece by Dan Henniger of the WSJ. Here's Rick Santorum's website.


We made homemade signs for the rally, which Rick signed. He even signed, "To Lane    Rick Santorum" on the sign that Lane made. A few of our friends were also at the rally, and some of them are in these pictures.





Rick's wife Karen is a gracious and accomplished woman.


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