31 January 2008

Kitchen Progress, II

We went from this:

To this:

To this:

We also found some mold behind the sink cabinet and, unexpectedly, behind another cabinet. The second batch of mold was from a leak when we tried to plumb our refrigerator's icemaker to the sink. So, we'll remove the moldy drywall and replace it before installing the new cabinets.


Kitchen Progress Report

The plumber was here earlier in the week to replace a few valves that will enable us to turn off the water in the kitchen instead of in the whole house. (Here's to having usable bathrooms while the kitchen is out of commission!)

All the lower cabinets are empty. Drew and Nathan are picking up the new cabinets right now. Today, Drew hopes to finish off the pony wall, remove the old counters, and install the plywood underlayment and the hardy back board.

Tomorrow, we plan to go down to the tile store to sort through boxes of tiles to pick out the ones we want to use. (I love World of Tile!) We also have to get the listello for the backsplash picked out so we can figure out if we can incorporate it into the island. Tomorrow we'll also rent the tile saw and begin cutting and dry-laying the tile.
I woke up this morning to an early Valentine: a dozen chocolate-covered strawberries from Edible Arrangements that Drew ordered and Jared and Joel picked up yesterday afternoon while they were out running errands. The card said that Valentine's Day shouldn't be celebrated only one day a year.



Speaking of Eric Bibb, the opening riff of 'Forgiveness is Gold' is eerily similar to the one of the catchier musical themes of Noëlle. If this was intentional, it beautifully supports Noëlle's main theme. If not, well then, isn't Providence gracious?


30 January 2008

Of Roots and Trees

I was listening to Eric Bibb today. If you haven't been introduced to him yet, get thyself to iTunes and look him up! (HT: Magistra Mater for introducing me to Mr. Bibb's music)

His songs are simply about life, its ups and its downs, its joys, its questions, and its mysteries. One in particular caught my attention. He sang about several blues legends who have died and yet still live through their music. It's vital to remember the past, to water the roots in order for the tree to be healthy. That metaphor lodged in my heart. After all, that is part of what we seek to do as we homeschool our children, both in them and in ourselves … watering the roots so the tree can thrive.


29 January 2008


'Words' I've heard lately and my guesses at their definitions:

ovenable: able to be ovened(?)
impactful: describing a person with four impacted wisdom teeth or something that makes you wish you had four impacted wisdom teeth because you'd have an excuse to be elsewhere
unforgiveness: the act of incorporating scenes from Clint Eastwood movies in other films or works of art (e.g. Back to the Future, III is full of unforgiveness.)
repentive: description of someone who must repent repeatedly; derived from 'repetitive repentance'

'Nuff said.


28 January 2008


Drew has been wanting to add in regular poetry memorization with the kids, but up to now, we haven't really done or expected much. At the beginning of January, we told the kids to choose one poem each to prepare to recite for the family. We originally scheduled our recitation for Saturday, but Nathan had to work, so we postponed it until dinner tonight.

We all had a great time and enjoyed the following pieces:

If All the World Was Paper
The House That Jack Built
Strictly Germproof
Portia's courtroom speech from The Merchant of Venice
The Battle of Ft. McHenry

The kids have been using their poems for copywork and a little grammar study this month. The two little ones were eventually able to write them completely from memory, with proper capitalization, punctuation, and spelling. I think I may incorporate the ones that tell stories into Classical Writing: Homer and Aesop.

Their assignment tomorrow is to choose their next poem. They've already begun planning. I'm going to begin working with them on their enunciation, breath-control, and expression.

A couple of the older kids really got into it and recited as if they were telling a story (which they were, after all, but it was much nicer than a rote, dry recital). I bet that was how it felt to listen to poetry around the campfire when there were no such things as television, DVD's, computers, or electric lights by which to read after the sun went down. (I can't believe I'm about to type this but …) I'm looking forward to reciting our newly-learned stock of poems around the campfire next summer when we go camping.


25 January 2008

Let the Fun Begin!

Awhile ago, I mentioned our kitchen remodel. Well, it officially began this afternoon when Drew began tearing down the snackbar. Oh, no! I plan to film the work but hadn't gotten my before shots of the kitchen! He placed the snackbar back up on the pony-wall for me so I could pretend (it is film, after all) and try to get a shot of what the kitchen felt like with the tall snack bar breaking up the space.

Since 18 yo Jared and 16 yo Nathan will be helping with the work, 13 yo Benjamin (yes, names! Drew said he was okay with mentioning the kids by name) will be my assistant director, part-time camera man, and boom boy. He's actually made more films than Nathan, so I'm confident that he'll be an asset to the production. Tomorrow, we'll shoot the 'before' walk through as I explain why we're making changes and what we hope to accomplish. Then, we'll film each step of the process and see how it edits together. One friend is hopeful that we'll be able to enter the film in a contest somewhere. I hope I don't end up with something that would fit on America's Funniest Home Videos!

I may try to post some segments to my dot mac website, but first I need to post the boys' film for friends around the country to see - our public awaits! The videos will be password protected. If I don't know you in real life, or haven't known you long online, I'm sorry, but I won't be able to share the password.

However, we're also taking snapshots of the work and I've been able to load pictures lately, so I'll try to load some of them here.


24 January 2008


I'm sure you've heard it somewhere. A conversation, one participant beginning to get a bit irritated with the other, and instead of continuing on and working to understand and communicate, he utters a simple, 'Whatever.'

This word, which started its humble life as a relative pronoun and adjective, has grown to carry much more weight.

It has become the trendy way to dismiss someone, to tell him he's not worth the time and energy to listen to, his existence is not worthy of recognition. It is used to communicate disdain, derision, and disrespect. It shuts people down and lets them know of their unimportance and lack of influence in the life of whomever utters it. "Whatever you say, it won't affect me."

Even when we don't utter the word, we can still communicate the attitude. We roll our eyes, lift an eyebrow, shrug our shoulders, and sigh or click our tongue at the stupidity of this neanderthal standing before us who understands nothing. We think that our own opinions are so important and others' are dismissible. I'm guilty of this (the subtle patronizing attitude, even though I've avoided saying 'whatever'; not that that mitigates my own culpability). When someone recently dismissed me with a 'whatever', it hit me like a brick in the face.

The Lord shows me his mercy as he continues to show me this attitude, but I'm saddened once again by my pride. For the sake of Christ and his sacrifice on the cross, my heavenly Father loves me as I am, but he loves me too much to leave me as I am. Praise his holy and gracious name!


23 January 2008

Starts and Finishes

Our no. 2 son (3 of 9 - you will be assimilated...resistance is futile) started his second job today. His first ended after less than a week when his employer discovered that he wasn't yet 18. Your tax dollars at work - according to the EEOC, he couldn't ask how old N. was before he hired him, but according to OSHA, no one under 18 is allowed to work there because of the motorized bread slicer, so he had to hire him and then let him go after only a few days.

Today, he started his job working the lunch rush at a local Tropical Smoothie franchise. This meant that we all got up earlier than usual. I admit it, I'm a night owl and have trouble functioning in the morning, and the kids seem to have inherited my night owl nature. But, when N. works the lunch shift, I need to finish all his lessons (i.e. the things I do with him, not his independent work) before taking him to work at 10:45, so we got up early. We'll get used to it, eventually. He next works on Friday evening, but we have to get up early that day for our history co-op.

And no. 1 son (2 of 9) finally got his homeschool graduation packet turned in. Today was the deadline, fortunately for him, the chair of the graduation committee lives only a few blocks away, so he walked it over. With family coming into town from the opposite end of the country, it was imperative that he get it in. If I remember correctly, his older sister (1 of 9 - I told you resistance is futile!) did the same thing when she graduated 3 years ago.


10 January 2008


I spent almost a full day last week running around the campus of a local community college trying to enroll my oldest son in two classes: English 101 and French 101.

The advisor we had to meet with included the following explanation of science requirements for various majors. He said that it's vital to be sure not to change majors after taking certain science courses because one wouldn't want to waste time and money taking classes one didn't need. For example, if a student on the communications track takes astronomy and then decides to switch to nursing, the time and money spent on the astronomy track would have been wasted because nurses need to study biology and chemistry, not astronomy.

I bit my tongue (almost in half), after all, this man had to sign off on my son's classes and I didn't want to alienate him. But I found the thought that learning something could be a waste simply because it didn't fit in with a specific vocational direction to be horrifying. What if said nursing major discovered an avocational love of astronomy that could be enjoyed and shared with a spouse and children throughout life? The only way studying something could be considered a waste is if the person so considering viewed classes, not as opportunities to learn but simply as hoops to be jumped through in pursuit of the finished product of a degree.

As we were herded from building to building, and line to line all day, it seemed that the college was nothing more than a degree factory. It was an impersonal industry focused on training and not on education. I felt like a handmade loaf of artisan bread taking a tour of the Wonder Bread factory. The product of this assembly line is vocational training, which is much, much different than education.

One more story that may communicate the different views of this whole process that I have compared to most of the rest of the country: we had to obtain the signatures of the two Department Heads approving my son's classes because he hasn't graduated from high school yet (he's a senior).

As we got to that point in our quest when we had acquired from the Admissions Office the correct pink sheet of paper on which to affix said signatures (which we had to make a separate trip for, even though they knew during our first visit to the sardine can they call an Admissions Office that we would be needing said piece of paper later in the day), I wondered what questions the Department Heads would ask my son as they decided whether or not to approve his class choices. I envisioned a weighty discussion. The stern-faced Department Head (looking much like Prof. Tolkien in my imagination) would seriously address my son and ask such questions as, 'Why do you want to study French?' 'What do you hope to gain from taking English 101?' 'Are you up to the work required?' 'Tell me about your study habits.' After all, education is a solemn business, not to be entered into lightly.

The reality was much, much different than my exalted imaginings. We arrived at the building that housed the offices of the foreign language faculty. The Department Head had already gone home for the day. The student manning the fort in his absence simply looked at my son's perfect placement test scores and signed the paper on the appropriate dotted line. The same thing happened in the English department where we also had to sign a paper acknowledging that after class began the teacher would have absolutely no communication with the parents regarding anything that happens in class (yeah, that's stuck in my craw, too).

This experience has sparked all kinds of thoughts about the nature of education, its scope, its depth, heighth, and breadth. My thoughts are still a jumble and not very developed, but I hope to blog about them as I work through them.

And maybe, while I think about this and mull it over, I need to find a nurse who loves astronomy to remind me how vast the universe is, that my thoughts really aren't that grand in the scheme of things, and that there's much more in this world, Horatio, than is dreamt of in my philosophy.


04 January 2008


Here are a couple of articles I've been mulling over lately:

Why a Great Books Education is the Most Practical!


Rethinking Education

both by David Crabtree of the McKenzie Study Center and Gutenberg College in Eugene, Oregon.

We've been discussing and trying to help our oldest son make some decisions for the future, but I'd really like to figure out the purpose of higher education (that would help me help my kids). If we know the goal or the destination, we can look at different ways of getting there. If we can't agree on the destination, then it's just guesswork.

Fortunately, God is in control, not only of the process, but of the outcome, too.