Sunday, January 1, 2017

Reading 2017

I met almost all my goals for reading in 2016! YAY! The only thing I didn't get finished was reading a book by Alexandre Dumas, but I have The Three Musketeers in progress, so I got pretty close, and I'm pleased.  I had a lot going on that I didn't anticipate in 2016, and some of the books were just harder for me to get through than I'd thought they'd be as well.  I ended up reading a total of 46 books.  If you want to see more about my goals and how I met them, look at my goals post from last year, my reading log, and/or my Goodreads page.  Some of my favorites I read were:  The Underground History of American Education by John Taylor Gatto, The Wright Brothers by David McCullough, Raising Godly Tomatoes by Elizabeth Krueger (that was a re-read), and Les MisĂ©rables by Victor Hugo.  Those were the ones I rated 5 stars on Goodreads (aside from books of the Bible, which always get five stars), so they struck me as "amazing."  I had a bunch I rated at 4 stars also, which were very good and worth reading.  Check them out if you're so inclined.

I'm excited to see what another year of reading will bring!

[As for blogging... I harbor a slight hope that it could be better than 2016 for me.  That wouldn't be too difficult...]

Reading Goals 2017:

Complete at least 35 books.  This is still low for me, but I'm going to resist the urge to raise it early in the year.  If in April or later I think I should up it, maybe I will at that time, but not before.  2017 is shaping up to be a full year already. (Update: Increased to 40 books later in the year.)

Some specific books I want to read this year: (I hope I can get to many of these early in the year.)
  • finish The Three Musketeers (in progress as of 11/2016).
  • finish A Beautiful Mind, which stayed pretty neglected as I sought to meet my goals last year. (COMPLETED Nov. 2017)
  • The Broken Way by Ann Voskamp.  I'm excited about this one because I really enjoyed both 1000 Gifts and the 1000 Gifts Devotional by the same author.  I started it this morning! (COMPLETED 1/17/17)
  • Love Your Enemies by Naomi Rude.  I'm looking forward to this one because the author is a friend, and the photo on the front is of my second oldest daughter and was taken by my oldest. :) (COMPLETED Feb. 2017)
  • Boy Meets Girl by Joshua Harris.  I have a lot of reading yet to do on this subject.  I want to attempt to resolve some questions in my own mind so I can try to help my children as they approach this time in their lives. (COMPLETED 1/28/17)
  • The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-ExupĂ©ry.  I picked up a copy of this cheap and want to finally read it all the way through. My mom had a copy and when I was a kid I used to read sections and laugh at it, but I don't know that I ever took it seriously and read it all the way through. (COMPLETED 1/7/17)
  • The Story of an Earnest Life by Eliza Davies.  My dad has repeatedly recommended this to me so I'm pretty sure I'll appreciate it, it's just a matter of working it in, which I'd like to do this year.  She knew Alexander Campbell.
Specific authors I'd like to read this year: 
  • Charles Dickens.  I really enjoy his writing.  Oliver Twist reminded me of this and left me wanting another one, so I'll have to figure out which one next.  That will be fun.  Maybe Great Expectations, since I already have it? (COMPLETED Great Expectations, September 2017)
  • Jane Austen.  I want to read the rest of her novels eventually.  I've only got 2 left: Emma and Mansfield Park.  I'll probably read Emma first.  While I do enjoy Austen overall, I've usually had enough of her for a while by the time I'm done with one book, so I likely won't read both novels this year.  We'll see.  (COMPLETED Emma, March 2017)
  • David McCullough.  Not sure which of his yet. (Update: Currently reading 1776, begun Nov. 2017)
  • Agatha Christie.  I've only read three of hers and I have no idea which others I'd like best, though I know some people who can recommend (one of which is my own daughter -- how fun is that?!). (Update 11/9/17: I plan to read The Mysterious Affair at Styles soon, hopefully before Thanksgiving.)
I reserve the right to change my mind on any of these if my interest in them wanes for whatever reason.  I want this to be a pretty informal guideline.  This should definitely get me started, and there's no shortage of books I'm interested in to choose from for the rest of my 35.  I plan to update this page as I meet my goals.

What were your favorite reads in 2016?  What are you planning to read in 2017?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Book Review: Robert Frost, Teacher by Nancy Vogel

Robert Frost, TeacherRobert Frost, Teacher by Nancy Vogel
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I enjoyed reading about Robert Frost as an educator. Did you know he and his wife educated their children at home? And although he taught at colleges, he didn't earn a degree in the typical fashion, but was given multiple honorary ones. His "lover's quarrel with the world," as he put it, definitely included educational establishments. He was a unique teacher. One story relates how he once asked his class after they'd handed in their papers whether anyone cared enough for what he'd written to want his paper returned after he'd read them. No one wanted the papers, so Frost went over and threw the whole stack in the trash, saying he didn't "intend to become a reader perfunctory of perfunctory writing." :) He was a thinker who made many thought-provoking statements in his teaching, lecturing, and literature.
This little book consists mainly of a lot of quotes. It also repeats some of the same thoughts in some of the chapters, from slightly different angles to make different points. Maybe the idea was to have the chapters stand alone. It is well-documented, which I appreciate. It's sort of a rare book currently and I got it on inter-library loan, having heard about it from another book. I didn't like it enough to pay an inflated price for it to get my own copy. I do want to write out some quotes to keep and reference, and it did make me curious to possibly read another more complete biography of Frost someday.

Some more interesting Robert Frost quotes:

"I accept school just as I accept the sonnet form or any other social convention: only it seems to be in me to want to make the school as un-schoollike as possible" (9).

"I have wanted in late years to go further and further in making metaphor the whole of thinking"

"literature courses are for those who aren't going to be writers, who're going to be readers. The writers should take history, science, philosophy" (60).

"we go to college to be given one more chance to learn to read in case we haven't learned in High School. Once we have learned to read the rest can be trusted to add itself to us" (61).

"The greatest nonsense of our time has been the solution of the school problem by forsaking knowledge for thought.... The point is that neither knowledge nor thought is an end and neither is nearer an end than the other. The end they both serve, perhaps equally, is deeds in such accepted and nameable forms as the sonnet, the story, the vase, the portrait, the landscape, the hat, the scythe, the gun, the food, the bread, the house, the home, the factory, the election, the government. We must always be about definite deeds to be growing" (62-3).

"I am a terribly hard judge on people without books" (72).

"I once said to a class at Amherst that any boy who bought one hundred dollars' worth of books would get the mark of A, or B for fifty dollars' worth, and the rest would fail" (72).

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Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Book Review: The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart

The Thread That Runs So TrueThe Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This classic was an interesting read. Jesse Stuart used to be a household name and this book was quite famous, though I'd never heard of it until it was recommended to me. It's about Stuart's teaching experience in one-room schoolhouses and other rural schools. He was an old-time teacher who got out of the profession as it was in the process of changing into what it is today. It was good for me to get his perspectives, both as a very young man and one with more experience, and to see some of the things that teachers were up against in those times. He thought that more professional schools and teachers would help with many problems in the school system. He advocated for this, and for many changes that took place slowly in his lifetime. He discussed various issues such as small-town politics, poverty, and even violence, as these things affected the schools and his own life. He was quite zealous about the value of education -- made me think of John Gatto's discussion of the "true believer." His perspective changed somewhat in the end as he realized that the schools were turning into a vast assembly line system and the individuals getting lost within it, while teachers still weren't earning enough income to feel they could even support a family. While he still loved teaching, he eventually left it behind to return to farming, the profession of his roots, and to finally marry the woman he loved. What I most appreciated about this book were the methods he used to reach people educationally, to help them grow as learners; the peek into another time in our country's educational life and his unique perspective on it; and his insights that came later as the schools became more systematized and consolidated. Aside from these things, he tells some pretty amazing and amusing stories as well.

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Monday, January 4, 2016

Reading 2016

In 2015, I made a grand total of 3 blog posts.  All I did with the blog at all was post a few book reviews and sort of keep my reading list updated.  I was more active on Goodreads than I was here. I don't have plans to emphasize my blog in 2016, either.  There are just too many higher priorities for me in this season for me to feel I'll be able to consistently devote the time to writing here.  I do still harbor some hopes that I'll perhaps be able to post now and then, and about something in addition to books.  We'll see.  But I want to post my reading goals here at least, and continue to update my reading list.

Reading Goals 2016:  

Complete at least 30 40 Books.  (DONE! YAY! 46!) This goal is purposefully low in order to encourage me to go for quality rather than quantity, and even more importantly, to allow me to freely focus on other priorities.  I still want and need to read several books, and think I'll probably read more than 30, but I anticipate enough challenge in this year in other areas that I don't think I need a higher goal right now. [Note Feb 2016: I have upped my goal to 40 books, as I've already read more than half of 30 and we're not even halfway through February.  This is still purposefully low and I might find that I want to raise it again.  Since I am counting children's picture books that I read for the first time, and I've read aloud quite a few new-to-me from the library with my younger ones lately, the titles accumulate faster.

I would like to read these 5 specific books this year (Update 12/31/16:  Done!):    
1.      Les Miserables by Victor Hugo  (completed 12/1/16)   
2.      That You May Know Him! by Clifford Deister (completed December 2016)  
3.      Walden by Henry David Thoreau   (completed December 2016)
4.      Young Man Luther by Erik Erikson  (completed 12/31/16) 
5.      The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom (completed 6/2016)

I would also like to read something that fits each of the following categories (Update 12/31/16:  All done except one author under #1, which I plan to complete in 2017).  Some books can fit more than one, so the number of books it will take to fill these will depend on the specific selections:    
1.   One from at least 5 of these authors:                                 
               i.     Jane Austen  (Completed Jan 2016 -- Persuasion)                            
               ii.   Charles Dickens  (Oliver Twist, completed December)                           
               iii.  Shakespeare  (Macbeth, completed May 2016)                          
               iv.  C.S. Lewis     (The Great Divorce, completed November 2016)                      
               v.   G. A. Henty            
               vi.  Sir Walter Scott (if I choose this I'll probably try either Rob Roy or The Talisman)                         
               vii. Alexandre Dumas (The 3 Musketeers in progress from late Nov)    
2.      Book by Agatha Christie (completed Jan 2016 -- The Murder of Roger Ackroyd)(+ And Then There Were None)  
3.      Other major Classic not by one of the authors on this goal list already (1984 by George Orwell in progress 4/4/16 -- completed 6/2/16)
4.      A Re-read from when I was 17 or younger  (Bridge to Terabithia, Feb 2016) (also Island of the Blue Dolphins, Feb 2016, and Little Women also in progress)
5.      Picture Book not previously read (ideally find one or more I really like to get new for the children)(I've read several as of mid-Feb 2016, my favorite might be How To Be a Nature Detective by Millicent Selsam, I also kinda liked Babar and His Children)
6.      Classic Chapter Book suitable for elementary reading, not previously read (Old Bones the Wonder Horse, completed 9/7/16)(Oliver Twist could also count, as some would consider it appropriate for elementary reading, but I'm not sure I do... some is gruesome and much is dark in it -- maybe age 12-13 and up?  Does have some valuable lessons.)
7.      Book repeatedly recommended to me personally, still not read (completed Jan 2016 - The Thread that Runs So True by Jesse Stuart)  

8.      Book by David McCullough (The Wright Brothers, completed 4/13/16)
9.      Education   (completed Jan 2016 - The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart, also Robert Frost, Teacher by Nancy Vogel) (Underground History of American Education fits this also, completed Feb 2016)
10.  Parenting    (completed Jan 2016 - Full Time Parenting by Israel Wayne)(Say Goodbye to Whining... begun Mar 2016) (also What He Must Be...)
11.  Philosophy or Psychology  (Young Man Luther Dec 2016) (Feb 2016 -- Underground History of American Education) 
12.  Spiritually Related (aside from the Bible itself) (completed Nov 2016 - The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis) (also completed Dec 2016 - That You May Know Him by Clifford Deister)  
13.  History, Geography, or Biography (the latter is preferred) (completed Jan 2016 - The Thread That Runs So True by Jesse Stuart) (also The Wright Brothers April 2016) 

14.  Science or Math  (The Wright Brothers, completed 4/13/16) (A Beautiful Mind in progress) (If I have time I would benefit from a greater challenge that delves into something besides the history/bio of one of these areas -- alternatively I've considered just asking my son to teach me some higher level math :) ) 
15.  Politically Relevant (b/c it’s a presidential election year) (Are You Liberal, Conservative, or Confused? completed May 2016)  (1984 could count also -- completed June 2016)

I will update this as I complete books that meet the goals.

Some of the books I hope to read this year.

What are you hoping to read this year?

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Book Review: Minn of the Mississippi

I recently finished reading Minn of the Mississippi by Holling Clancy Holling, aloud to the children.  When we started, I had everyone sit in on it (ages 2-13 at the time), but by the end I wasn't insisting that my older two be part of it -- decided they could read it later if they wanted to.  But it was part of school for Zion, my 4th/5th grader.

The book is about a snapping turtle named Minn, who travels down the Mississippi River through the course of her life, seeing many sites and encountering many adventures as she goes.  Through telling the story of what happens to Minn, Holling teaches lessons on history, geography, and even some science, all tied into the story of the Mississippi River.  It's a pretty clever concept, and from that standpoint, as well as his detailed illustrations, his books are truly a work of art.  They are a neat way to bring learning to life -- good examples of what Charlotte Mason would have called "living books."  It's no coincidence that I discovered the Holling books through Ambleside Online.

I enjoyed the book overall, but for some reason it was sort of tough to use as a read aloud.  Something about Holling's style?  His prose can be almost poetic at times, but was sometimes hard to follow, when read aloud to squirmy little ones.  Maybe part of it is the phase I was at w/my listeners on this one.  Abraham (2/3 years old) is not a good one to sit still for reading aloud yet, unless he's very engaged with a book that is geared toward him.  Listening is not his strong suit.  Reading aloud worked fine for us years ago with some of Holling's other books -- Seabird and Paddle-to-the-Sea.

Liberty (age 4/5) enjoyed the book.  She thought the pictures were especially interesting.  Tirzah (age 7/8) also liked it okay.  She said she liked the first and last parts better than the middle.  She liked best when it talked more about Minn and what happened to her, and less about the places she saw.

Zion (age 9/10) said she liked the book about the same as the other Holling books we've read -- in her opinion, they are okay, but not great.  Peter (age 11/12) didn't care for the book much at all.  Bethany (age 13/14) thought it was okay, and said she would give its content 3 out of 5 stars.  She also didn't care as much for the incorporating of information about things along Minn's journey at times.  It does slow down Minn's story, but of course she realizes that it's sort of the point of the book.  I'm not very good at giving stars as a rating system -- I always hate to commit somehow -- but I might give it 3.5 stars.  I appreciated the teaching stuff enough to put it up a notch from Bethany's rating, yet I also appreciate and identify with her criticisms.

As usual for me, there are things I wish were different about the book.  Holling weaves bits (and sometimes more, depending on the book and the part of it) of spiritist/shamanist/Native American religious perspective into all his books, which is something to be aware of as a Christian reader.  I decided against two of his other books (Tree in the Trail and Pagoo) because there was what seemed on a somewhat casual perusal to be significantly more of that sort of content in those books.  But there is still some in the ones we did read.  There is also evolutionary content at times.   I discussed and/or edited various sections.  It seems Minn of the Mississippi may have more than Paddle-to-the-Sea or Seabird, but it's there in all of them.

I found Minn of the Mississippi to be a pretty good resource for historical, geographical, and scientific learning, with some qualifications.  I will probably continue to use it in the future, but now that I've read it myself, I think I may just let my children who read it do so independently (technically all of them have heard at least portions of it now, though the younger ones probably won't remember), possibly with some discussion along the way.  If it's used for school, we may include some narration, and ideally some map work.  It worked pretty well for narrations for Zion. 

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Saturday, February 14, 2015

Book Review: Augustus Caesar's World by Genevieve Foster

I read Augustus Caesar's World in 2014.  This was the first of Genevieve Foster's books that I completed, although I'd read portions of others.  Since then, I've also finished George Washington's World and Abraham Lincoln's World.  I plan to review at least Abraham Lincoln's World eventually, but I'll begin with this one because I'd already written a partial review in draft form.

I discovered Augustus Caesar's World on the Ambleside Online Year 6 Booklist.  I pre-read it for my children.  It took me a while to figure out exactly what to do with it once I finished.  I'll try to explain.

I enjoyed it overall until some past the halfway point.  Even up until then, there are many things to discuss, many similar to the ones I mentioned in my review of The Story of the Romans, though I noted that Foster's style makes some of them more... well, dramatic.  Her writing style is more fictionalized than is my preference.  I understand the whole telling-the-story, immerse-them-in-the-moment appeal, and I realize that there can be room for a little artistic license.  Still, made-up dialog has always irritated me in history books.  So that is an additional thing to be discussed at points throughout.  There was also one page (87) in the story of Antony and Cleopatra where I blacked out some text I felt was just unnecessary to the point that I wasn't comfortable with my children reading it.  Oh, and I also edited drawings throughout that I felt could use more clothing (that's something I do with quite a few books with drawings).

Despite these things, there were still merits to the book.  It gave more background and seemed a nice supplement to portions of The Story of the Romans.  Her storytelling approach was interesting and helped to bring it to life.  I also appreciated how Foster explored what was going on in different places and in different people's lives during the same time period.

Until I got to the part where she began talking more about various religions.

Her religious sections clearly had an agenda.  Foster uses her book to promote the idea that all religions worship the same "god," and other rather vague spiritual ideas she seems to prefer.  Ambleside Online had warned me that, "This book contains sections on the birth of world religions presented from a secular humanist point of view. Parents may wish to cover these sections closely with their children." (see the note for Augustus Caesar's World on the Year 6 book list)  I appreciated the notice.  The more I read, the more irritated I got with the book, though, and the more discussion points I noted, until I started to reconsider whether I wanted to use the book at all.

When it came to talking about the Bible, there were points at which she was clearly incorrect, and not only that, she also seemed to be trying to subtly undermine the Bible and the religions of the Jews and Christians as she wrote.  She seemed to be approach things from a "higher criticism" perspective.  It was slightly reminiscent of the Old Testament class I took in college -- where not-quite-so-subtle undermining was occurring pretty regularly.  That was irritating, too, but at least I was older than the target audience for this book.

Here's just one example of what I'm talking about. "During the centuries, however, [the Jewish] idea of what God was like had greatly changed.  Those who were writing the Bible in Babylon had come to think of Him as God of righteousness and justice.  Before that he had been a vengeful god of war, leading them to battle against their enemies.  And in the earliest days, when the Jews had been but a tribe of half-savage shepherds roaming the Arabian desert, their god had been but one of the many strange spirits which seemed to people the desert world about them.  Then... they made bloody sacrifices... burning on the altar their first-born children, as later they were to offer up each first-born lamb and goat" (page 186-187).  !?!  And it goes on.  See what I mean? 

The Bible topics presented aren't new to my children, but I wasn't sure that I wanted them to read them presented in this way at this age.  Plus, when a writer presents things in this fashion to the point that it becomes apparent that she isn't being evenhanded with the subject, it makes me start to mistrust her and wonder how much else of what she writes is not to be trusted.  If she presents Jesus in a way that makes him seem almost like another Buddha, how is she twisting the other religions with which I'm less familiar?  And are her other historical facts accurate, when I know some to be incorrect?  Of course any writer can make mistakes, and every writer has a bias no matter how objective he/she tries to be.  But sometimes it just gets to the point where I think, ugh, is this worth it?  And that's where I was before I reached the end of this book.  I did go ahead and finish it, just to get a grasp of the whole. 

I vented to my husband about it a bit, and his first response was that we should not use the book at all.  However, I further explained that I did appreciate some things about the book (mentioned above), especially in the earlier portion.  Our daughter Bethany had also been wanting to read it for some time, having read and enjoyed Foster's books on Washington's and Lincoln's worlds, and had been waiting for me to preview it -- so that was another complicating factor.  I thought that at age 14 she was probably old enough that discussion would be just fine concerning of most if not all things presented... and yet I had doubts.  I was also less sure about what our Year 6 student was able to handle at age 12.  After having invested the time to pre-read a book, I emotionally sort of wanted it to work out -- but not all of them do, and that's okay, so I didn't want that to weigh too heavily in the decision.

After further discussion with my husband, we determined it might be best to have them read to a certain point and stop, at least for the time being, just giving them a brief explanation of why.  If they were really interested in reading more, we could evaluate further at that point.  So I allowed my oldest two students to read almost the first 200 pages (through page 194, to be exact), which is approaching 2/3 of the book.  There were still plenty of things I wanted to discuss in this portion, some of which I hesitated about exposing them to (some of her comments about the Bible and the Jewish religion especially).  But it might be good for them to be aware that some of these perspectives exist, although the ideal would perhaps be for them to get their information about it from a source that exposed it for what it is.  Yet, I thought with discussion I would be exposing it, and if they ever take a college class or read certain literature about the Bible in the future, they'll get it even more heavily in probably worse than that style.  So perhaps it's just as well for them to see it that way and get some better perspective on it with the discussion.

So many issues the world presents are like this.  I'd rather that we didn't have to address them at all, but in many cases it seems wiser to talk about them at some point, so our children can be prepared to live in the real world.  Homeschooling presents the very helpful option of being able to choose to a much larger degree the timing and approach used for broaching many topics, which is wonderful, and I wouldn't want it any other way.  Yet, at times it can be overwhelming and difficult to make decisions in this area.   May God give us wisdom.

Before they started reading, I explained to my oldest two children the decision we made about the book, and why.  They could see enough of the author's tone as they read the early part that I think they could see why I chose to omit the rest.  I encouraged them to come to me with any questions as they read, but they didn't.  I planned to discuss with them what they read.  The ideal would have been to do it gradually at intervals as they went along, but I ended up doing this some time after they read it.  It ended up that Bethany wasn't too interested in the book once she started reading it.  I'd probably taken too long to get to it for her, and she'd been able to read The Story of the Romans before it, which she prefers.  But she was also disappointed in the way Foster handled some of the subject matter -- similar to how I felt on that.

So, would I recommend this book?  Hmm, definitely not without at least mentioning my reservations.  There are merits to it, as I mentioned above, and yet there is enough I don't like about it that I have reservations about recommending it.  Will I continue to have my children part of it?  I don't know.  I think I might make it optional to read a portion of it -- always with some discussion, though.  I much prefer The Story of the Romans by H. A. Guerber over this book.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Book Review: The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia

Wouldn't it be great to try reviewing each book I read this year?  I seriously doubt that it will happen, but that doesn't keep me from thinking such idealistic things at the beginning of a new year. :)

The History of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia, by Samuel Johnson, was the first book I finished this year.  It was one I had on hand as a possibility for Bethany's school year, chosen from the Ambleside Online book list, but I wanted to pre-read it.  I didn't even know what it was about.  Toward the end of 2014, I wanted to complete 50 books before the year was out, but I was getting short on time.  I took up this one with just a few days left in the year because it was only around 100 pages, and it only took Johnson a week to write.  Surely then, it wouldn't take long to read.

I was wrong.  Not only was I pretty busy, especially in that last part of 2014 and the first part of 2015, both with various activities and other things needing reading as well, but the book is apparently the distillation of years of forethought, learning, and experience.  While he did whip it out in a week in 1759 to pay for the costs of his mother's healthcare and funeral, and it is a novel, it's not a lightweight read.  This is a thought-provoking, philosophical book.

But don't let that keep you from reading it!  Although I was mildly irritated that I couldn't get it read in time, and it ended up taking me more than twice as long to read it as it took him to write it, I really enjoyed it.  I'm quite glad I read it, and recommend it.

Rasselas is a young prince who lives in what seems at first to be a rather Utopian community, but he is not content.  He decides to travel and explore the concept of happiness, to try to determine where and how to find and keep it.  This book is about his adventures and conversations with various people from different walks of life in his attempts to do so.

Through this plot, Johnson philosophizes on various topics, including but certainly not limited to:  idleness and luxury, work, learning, marriage, family, grief, and madness.  Yes, he packed a lot in those less than 100 pages!  There is a lot of quotable wisdom in it.  I think it will make a great book for discussion, especially coupled with a solid Biblical perspective.  I was pleasantly surprised and intrigued by this little book.

Some of the many quotes I enjoyed:

"...the life that is devoted to knowledge passes silently away, and is very little diversified by events.  To talk in publick, to think in solitude, to read and to hear, to inquire, and answer inquiries, is the business of a scholar.  He wanders about the world without pomp or terrour, and is neither known nor valued but by men like himself" (p. 15).

"Inconsistencies... cannot both be right, but, imputed to man, they may both be true.  Yet diversity is not inconsistency" (p. 16).

"...drinking at the fountains of knowledge, to quench the thirst of curiosity" (p. 17).

"...envy feels not its own happiness, but when it may be compared with the misery of others" (p. 19).

"Truth, such as is necessary to the regulation of life, is always found where it is honestly sought" (p. 24).

"Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed" (p. 25).

"Few things are impossible to diligence and skill" (p. 28).

"I live in the crowds of jollity, not so much to enjoy company as to shun myself, and am only loud and merry to conceal my sadness" (p. 35).

"We are long before we are convinced that happiness is never to be found, and each believes it possessed by others, to keep alive the hope of obtaining it for himself" (p. 35).

"Be not too hasty... to trust, or to admire, the teachers of morality: they discourse like angels, but they live like men" (p. 38).

"...every tongue was muttering censure and every eye was searching for a fault" (p. 47).

"The colours of life in youth and age appear different, as the face of nature in spring and winter" (p. 50).

"Few parents act in such a manner as much to enforce their maxims by the credit of their lives" (p. 50).

"The general folly of mankind is the cause of general complaint" (p. 56).

"...nature sets her gifts on the right hand and on the left... as we approach one, we recede from another.  There are goods so opposed that we cannot seize both, but, by too much prudence, may pass between them at too great a distance to reach either.  This is often the fate of long consideration; he does nothing who endeavours to do more than is allowed to humanity....  Of the blessings set before you make your choice, and be content.  No man can taste the fruits of autumn while he is delighting his scent with the flowers of the spring: no man can, at the same time, fill his cup from the source and from the mouth of the Nile" (p. 58).

"This at least... is the present reward of virtuous conduct, that no unlucky consequence can cause us to repent it" (p. 67).

"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful" (p. 81).

" mock the heaviest of human afflictions is neither charitable nor wise.... Of the uncertainties of our present state, the most dreadful and alarming is the uncertain continuance of reason" (p. 84).

"No disease of the imagination... is so difficult of cure, as that which is complicated with the dread of guilt..." (p. 92).

I had trouble stopping!  But I must leave you reason to read the book. :)

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Monday, November 3, 2014

Extra Photos

Here are some more photos from our not back-to-school group.  They are a little more varied, a little more fun, a little more silly. :) I'm putting them up without commentary to save time.  

Saturday, November 1, 2014

2014-2015 Not Back-to-School Photos

Well, now that it's November, I guess it's finally time to get back to school...

Joking. :) The children have been working hard for quite some time.  I took "not" back-to-school photos a while ago, but hadn't gotten around to posting them.  Our first "official" week of school started September 14. (But that's a Sunday, you say?  Exactly.  They learn on Sundays, too -- very important things, in fact.  But the more traditional school work didn't start until the following day.)  Due to Justice's mid-August birth we delayed our start time this year.  The photos were taken near the end of September.

I have other photos without the signs showing their ages, but I limited this post to only the ones with signs to reduce its length.  I got more "sign shots" with some students than others.

Perhaps I'll post other pictures later... but at my current rate of posting, there are no guarantees. Between one little boy who doesn't settle down easily at night, and another who is an early-morning riser, these precious blessings are stretching me these days.  Many times that might otherwise seem good for blogging now and then are spent discussing heavy machinery with a 3 year old or caring for a fussy baby.  It's a season that will seem to have passed oh, so quickly when I look back. These photos serve as evidence of that, as I see how much my older ones have grown from previous years.

That the Lord has blessed us with all these beautiful children fills me with awe.  They are amazing.  God is truly an incredible Creator and deserves our praise. 

We have a new student this year. :)

He had a rash for a while that we thought was heat rash.  We finally upped the a/c because we felt sorry for him, and it improved, but part of it did linger and came back now and then, though it's finally all gone now and his cheeks are back to smooth baby softness.  He may have sensitive skin.

Abraham had a little trouble smiling on request...

 ...but he was still cute.

Telling me something about the sign.

I finally resorted to bribery.  I told him he could have a Starburst if he could smile nicely for pictures. I promised them to the older ones, too, but he was why.

Funny boy.  

Liberty did pretty well.

Topaz the cat joined her...

 ...and seemed to be posing for this shot.

Cheese!  Cutie pie.

Here's Tirzah, who was still 7.  Now she is 8, after having a birthday in October.

Turning into a lovely young lady.

Speaking of lovely young ladies, I'm blessed to have the company of two others...

...and a handsome young gentleman as well.

Here is the last lovely young lady, Bethany, who is really the first.

My babies are growing up!