". . . little shall I grace my cause

In speaking for myself. Yet, by your gracious patience,

I will a round unvarnish'd tale deliver . . ."

(William Shakespeare's Othello, I.iii.88-90)

Monday, August 31, 2015

News to Me

I have a new article at The Federalist today, my second expressing reservations about Donald Trump's presidential run. In the mind of one commenter, that can only mean that I am a member of the Republican establishment out to get Trump. So I started wondering, what exactly does it mean to be a part of the Republican establishment? Well, according to  this article, it means I must be one of the following:

1) A "top GOP lawmaker"

2) A "retired GOP bigshot"

3) A member of the media based in Washington, D.C. or New York City 

4) A "deep pocket" contributor

5) A foreign policy hawk

Hmmm. Since I'm not a lawmaker, I'm not retired, I don't live in D.C. or NYC, and I don't write on foreign policy, that must mean I'm #4: a deep pocket contributor. Now if only someone would tell my pocket! :-)

*Photo credit Steven Depolo

Friday, August 28, 2015

Go Read Another Harper Lee Novel

I finished reading Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman last night. I know some people have reservations about reading it. There is speculation about whether its publication was her will or that of unscrupulous people out to profit from her work, and there is concern about the effect the book will have on the reputation of Lee's masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird. All I can say is that I thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated the book. I would urge reading it on its own merits, for what it has to offer apart from To Kill a Mockingbird. For it certainly has much to recommend it. It was unexpectedly funny. But more important, it is a vividly drawn portrait of a character, Jean Louise "Scout" Finch, who is just as compelling as a grown woman as she was as a young girl. And the theme of initiation, of the realization that the world and its inhabitants are a lot more complicated than they seemed when we were children, is universal. If you as a devotee of To Kill a Mockingbird are worried that your image of Atticus is going to be compromised by reading this book, you are in good company because that is exactly the crisis facing Scout as she visits her hometown in Go Set a Watchman. It is something that we all go through as we become adults and realize our parents are--surprise!--mere human beings. My advice: take Scout's hand, walk alongside her, and see where the journey leads. I think you'll be glad you did.

And if you aren't, I apologize in advance. :-)

Monday, August 24, 2015

For the Insult File

This one could come in handy.

"You are fascinated with yourself. You will say anything that occurs to you, but what I can't understand are the things that occur to you. I should like to take your head apart, put a fact in it, and watch it go its way through the runnels of your brain until it comes out of your mouth."

From Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee

Image: US cover of Go Set a Watchman. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

Friday, August 21, 2015

It's That Time of Year

What time? Back to school time! Here's our plan for sixth grade.

Bible study - Confirmation class at church and Treasury of Daily Prayer at home.

Language Arts - Language Lessons for the Secondary Child, Volume 1 (a Charlotte Mason approach from Sandi Queen)

Handwriting (yes, we still do it in our school) - 44 U. S. Presidents, Zaner-Bloser - Learning about the presidents while continuing to develop cursive writing. We probably won't get all the way to the end, and that's okay. :-)

History - Story of the World, Book 4 (Modern Age)

Vocabulary/Foreign Language - Roots of English, Memoria Press - Latin and Greek roots

Math - Teaching Textbooks 6

Science - I have not purchased a science curriculum this year and don't plan to. Instead we are going to draw on books already on the shelf, including some science biographies and encyclopedias and the creation-based It Couldn't Just Happen. The one new book I did order is this fun looking one about the periodic table. 

Art - I am not artistic so as a homeschool parent have always struggled with this. When my adult children were younger we addressed the need with outside classes. That has not really happened with Evan. But I do want him to have some hands-on art, so rather than try to find (and pay for) a class that will work with our schedule, I am going to teach him myself this year (don't laugh). Again, we have plenty of resources already on the shelf, including Let's Meet Famous Artists, 20 Art Lessons, The Big Yellow Drawing Book, Drawing with Children, and several books in the 1-2-3 Draw seriesI'll probably pull some lessons from all of them. Hey, I said not to laugh.

Applied music - Seismic change here this year. Evan will transition from piano lessons with Mom to piano lessons with Dad. Gulp. Things are getting serious! The fact of the matter is that Mom is not as demanding as Dad (surprise, surprise). Mom does make a pretty good practice coach, though, and that will continue. Organ lessons, which began with Dad this year, will also continue. And of course, choir. Always choir.

Music listening - Another neglected area (sigh). We are going to do some listening to both folk music (I Hear America Singing and Reader's Digest Children's Songbook) and classical music (Meet the Great Composers and Lives of the Musicians). I think I will also draw on the excellent list my friend Susan developed not too long ago.

Physical education - Swimming class once per week at the local swim school, and youth bowling league on Saturday mornings at the local bowling alley. Since I work most Saturday mornings, Dad will be overseeing the latter, starting tomorrow. Evan can't wait.

Coding - Evan loves video games. I mean, he really loves video games. He has also shown some interest in coding and game design. Last year we tried Khan Academy's programming course but ran into some frustrations that led to waning interest. But I would like to encourage what seems to be Evan's natural aptitude in this area. So we are going to try a CD-based course called KidCoder that was developed by some fellow homeschoolers. Here's a review from another blogger.

Last but not least, of course, will be assorted readalouds throughout the year. We'll figure those out as we go, but one will definitely be a biography of Martin Luther during the month of October. :-)

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Mid-August Report

A cool front blew in last night and brought rain with it. We won't make it out of the 60's today. How fitting, considering that I just dropped off the second of my two college students at school yesterday. Fall is coming. In a week or two our home school will kick off its last round of junior high as Evan starts sixth grade. Church activities, choir practices, and a busier work schedule will begin in earnest. Another summer, and the memories it generated, will be boxed up, tied with twine, and placed on the shelf next to all the rest. It was a good one.

Speaking of college kids, here's number two. This is how I left her yesterday, boxes still sealed, bed unmade. She is quite capable of fixing her room up the way she wants it, and I wanted to get back home at a reasonable hour.

Here she is with her new roommate, who is also a writer.

I think it's going to be a great year. She is taking more classes in the humanities and fewer in the sciences. Math is done. Hurray!

Oh, and before she left she wrote this. She is a smart one, that girl.

In other news, Phillip is preparing for another trip to Africa in November. He'll get a day-long layover in Paris, poor dear. This, his fourth trip, will be to the Lutheran seminary CLET (Centre Luthérien d’Études Théologiques), in Dapaong, Togo. 

I have a few more articles in the queue over at The Federalist. They're on homeschooling and education. Imagine that. :-)

Our tomatoes are almost ready.

Sunday, August 16, 2015


A few days ago I wrote this. It is about the blessings that come as we go from one season of life to another. I meant every word. 

But sometimes . . . sometimes . . .

I wish I could go back and do it all again.

Me and my son in his new apartment