Friday, January 30, 2015

Too Much of a Good Thing - It's All Too Much

I follow Ambleside Online loosely.  I deviate a bit so I can keep us all together as we work through the timeline of history and substitute occasionally with books I have on hand.  We ended last year with the Roman Empire and Life of Christ, so this year we started with the Early church and the fall of the Roman empire. There were so many good "spine books" for the time period. I didn't want to miss anything and I didn't know which would be best so I decided to try all that I had on hand.  We're reading The story of Mankind - this year we covered the first half of the third book. I also purchased The Story of Europe because I like another book we'd used by H.E. Marshall and her books are highly recommended.  I already had A Child's History of England (I love anything by Charles Dickens), and we've been reading through a copy of The Church in History that I've had for years.  We also read the first part of Trial and Triumph and Great Astronomers. My two junior high aged students were reading Birth of Britain but both found it difficult reading.  I'd hoped to include some historical novels as well, but the schedule was pretty full....  With more than half the year behind us, I'm finding that we are too heavy on the overview books, but I've been reluctant to let any of them go as each has its own appeal.  Finally, yesterday I decided that I will cut out all but The Story of Mankind, Great Astronomers and Trial and Triumph.  We've learned a lot from The Church in History and I love Dickens' stories, H.E.Marshall's narratives are also excellent, but it's all too much.  So even though I haven't heard anyone else talk about the books, The Story of Mankind: A Picturesque Tale of Progress, by Olive Beaupre' Miller, it turns out that this is my favorite series.  I inherited this four-book set when my Dad cleaned off his bookshelves. There are pictures and maps on pretty much every page, though that isn't what draws me.  I like her storytelling.  The chapters are quite long, but there are breaks with headings if you want to use shorter readings.  I also like the fact that I can cover the whole span of history using one author.  We just finished book 3, part 1 of the series (each book is divided into two parts).  The thing I like about Trial and Triumph is that each chapter is a biographical sketch of a man of faith.  Some of the overview books we were using covered so many people in each chapter that your were left trying to remember names and dates.  For this reason I'm excited about reading some historical fiction where you actually feel like you get to know the people and settings in detail.  I'm hoping to get through the following and more if possible, we've actually started three of these already. My list includes:
  •  The Door in the Wall, Marguerite DeAngelli
  •  The Namesake, The Story of King Alfred, C. Walter Hodges
  •  Messiah! A New Look at the Composer, the Music and the Message! N.A. Woychuk (of Scripture Memory Fellowship)
  •  Son of Charlemagne, Barbara Willard (Bethlehem Books)
  •  Adam of the Road,Elizabeth Gray Vining
  •  Wulf the Saxon: A Story of the Norman Conquest by G.A.Henty
My students also have other biographies of this time-period they are reading individually.

I'd be interested if you have recommendations for other biographies or historical novels from this time-period?

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Memorizing Scripture

We're memorizing a couple different longer passages from the Bible this year, actually we started most of them last year but are continuing with them. One of them is Romans 6-8.  I found a CD of Romans 6-8 put to music.  This is such a great passage of Scripture, but it is complex and difficult to memorize. We're finding it much easier to music. Here is a link to the website for Songs of Scripture.  The Romans Project is the one we're using. 

 We've also been working on the Sermon on the Mount.Sermon on the Mount - DVD We've been working on it on our own, but I have a DVD of Keith Ferrin quoting it with meaning and passion and I think I'll try using it for our memory-time.  You can get this Keith Ferrin Sermon on the Mount 

DVD here.  Keith Ferrin has lots of resources for helping you and your family memorize and meditate on Scripture.  His website is That You May Know Ministries.

I told my children this week that we really don't know what the future will hold for us as Christians.  It may be that we are in prison someday and it will be a tremendous gift to have the beautiful Word of God stored in our hearts.  Actually, if we memorize it we have it ready for meditation anytime and anywhere....  

What do you use to help you memorize?  

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

The Silver Chair - C.S.Lewis

We're reading The Chronicles of Narnia as a family and I'm finding deep insights I somehow missed as a child when my parents read them aloud to us.  Maybe they're like any really good allegory, they fit on many levels and they grow with you.
We just completed The Silver Chair.  I didn't have an attachment to this book in particular, but this time around it seemed to have a lot to say to me.  I'd like to record a few of my thoughts and musings from this reading of it.

Jill and Eustace have called on Aslan asking if they can go to Narnia.  When Jill meets Aslan a few moments later and he is talking about the task for which he called her, she responds, "I was wondering--I mean--could there be some mistake? Because nobody called me and Scrubb, you know.  It was we who asked to come here.  Scrubb said we were to call to--to Somebody--it was a name I wouldn't know--and perhaps the Somebody would let us in.  And we did, and then we found the door open."
     Aslan's response is, "You would not have called to me unless I had been calling to you."
And how precious it is that our LORD is calling to us! and we have the privilege of responding by calling on Him!

Then they find themselves in Narnia and are ushered into the castle.  "Supper in the great hall of the castle was the most splendid thing either of them had ever seen;..."  This second chapter ends with this paragraph:  "When they were dragging themselves upstairs to bed, yawning their heads off, Jill said, 'I bet we sleep well tonight,' for it had been a full day.  Which just shows how little anyone knows what is going to happen to them next."

The journey their assignment took them on was arduous and uncomfortable.  It was a reminder that our comfort isn't the issue at stake, it is the call to bring glory to God and to serve Him and His Kingdom that shapes our lives.  

Later in the book as the evil enchantress is working her magic and trying to deceive them, I saw interesting parallels to the deceptions of worldly philosophies that currently pervade our culture questions about what is real and what is true.  The deceit was so subtle and they were vulnerable to it.  It took pain and intense struggle to wrench them back to reality and truth. 

I highly recommend these books!  They are full of spiritual insights! 

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Common Redpoll

While we were working on our gingerbread houses a female Common Redpoll hit the dining room window and crashed to the snow below.  I noticed four or five at the feeder, some were males with the pink bib.  Ruthie went out to check on it.  The wing was splayed in an unnatural position but she gently picked it up and brought it in.  She said the little heart was still beating so we found a cage to set over a box so it wouldn't panic and fly around the house when it came out of it's stupor. 

When she came around we took the cage outside and lifted the cage off of the box to let her go.  She immediately flew off into the woods.  I hope they stay around at our feeders awhile.  So far we've had mostly chickadees and a nuthatch. 

New Years Day 2015

Love this little snowman....
candy sleigh & gingerbread man

Holidays are filled with activities and traditions that are educational.  Even when we aren't doing formal lessons we are learning and growing. One of our New Year's holiday traditions is to make gingerbread houses.  This year we decided to make them using graham crackers. We have wonderful memories of friends making them with us different years.  Like the year Adam brought candy "stones" to make chimneys and rock work on our houses. But this year it was just us....   The girls studied ideas online, purchased some candy, made the frosting glaze and glued the crackers together last night.  While they dried and we waited for the New Year to come in we listened to an audio version of Voyage of the Dawn Treader. This morning when the breakfast dishes were done, we were ready to spread the table with houses and candy.  Then the creativity began. 
finished gingerbread houses on display

We had enough houses for a second display

After the gingerbread houses, we worked on making Lefse.  It didn't turn out perfectly but it tasted wonderful and we had lots of fun and laughs....  

Then it was time to go out sledding.  There was a nice dusting of snow last night so we filled some tubes and headed for the hill.  It's unusual to have this little snow here this time of year, but it is certainly cold enough for January. 
Not much snow, but enough for tubing....

Going down in a train - hang on!

climbing back up for another run

It's a long hill to climb but worth if for another ride down...

The only things left on our to-do list for New Year's Day 2015 besides eating a nice dinner together is to watch our video of The Gospel According to Scrooge and to listen to more of the audio book, The Silver Chair which we just started last night.  Looks like the year is off to a wonderful start!!