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30 September 2015

Writing ひらがな

I've been able to write hiragana for years, now. Since college, when I first started learning Japanese in 1996. But there's always been something slightly "off" about the way I do it. I discovered a while back that the cool square paper they use in Japan really helps, but still, something isn't right.

These days, there are so many cool resources on Facebook. There's a grammar discussion group that's really friendly and helpful. And earlier this week, I found Japanese Language for Mama. Which, if it lives up to the name, is right up my alley. This evening, she posted this:






It has been so very long since I watched someone who knows what they are doing! And, watching, I was able to identify what it is that I'm messing up on a couple of mine. It's late, tonight, but tomorrow, as we're doing school, I definitely want to get my pens and square paper out and practice writing some more. I'm excited.


 

26 September 2015

On Classical Education: Character is the True Aim

"Character is not the result of chance work but of continuous right thinking and right acting." -David O. McKay. Art by Peter Paul Rubens - "St. Simon"


This post is part of a series: 

Character is the True Aim (this post)
Cultivation of Godly Character
What is a Student? 
Make Haste Slowly
Much Not Many 
Ordered Affections
Repetition is the Mother of Memory
Embodied Learning
Songs Chants and Jingles
Wonder and Curiosity
Educational Virtues
Contemplation
By Teaching We Learn
Classical Education is Like a Table



We've been attempting to do a Classical Education for several years, now, but in all that time, I've struggled to put it into words what it is, or why it's desirable. With the reading I've been doing recently, and the podcasts that I've been listening to, this is starting to change. I've come across a number of articles dealing what the purposes of education are, and what is it that makes Classical education distinct from progressive (public) education, and what makes the former a more desirable type of education than the latter. This reading is helping me develop a better vision of where we are going. Classical education is less about covering topics, (though obviously topics are covered), but more about learning to prize Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. It's less using the mind, and more feeding the mind, with an eye toward the growth of the soul. Classical education helps the child move from wonder - it's inborn in us all - to worship, and from there to wisdom. All the standardized testing of the typical progressive education is obsessed with the facts that the student can rehash on demand, but classically, education is more than that: education is about formation of character.


A man may possess a profound knowledge of history and mathematics; he may be an authority in psychology, biology, or astronomy; he may know all the discovered truths pertaining to geology and natural science; but if he has not with this knowledge that nobility of soul which prompts him to deal justly with his fellow men, to practice virtue and holiness in personal life, he is not a truly educated man. Character is the aim of true education; and science, history, and literature are but means used to accomplish the desired end. Character is not the result of chance work but of continuous right thinking and right acting. True education seeks, then, to make men and women not only good mathematicians, proficient linguists, profound scientists, or brilliant literary lights, but also honest men, combined with virtue, temperance, and brotherly love-men and women who prize truth, justice, wisdom, benevolence, and self-control as the choicest acquisitions of a successful life."
-David O. McKay, Gospel Ideals, pp. 440-441, emphasis added



Character is the true aim. The aim of this type of education is not mere accumulation of knowledge, however useful. It's not a checklist of facts that ought to be learned at certain ages or stages. True education prepares our children, not just for profitable employment, or other knowledge-based activities, but to become their best selves, and to practice at being that best self in the quiet times, so that in the times of stress they will be able to act with integrity and according to virtues that have become a part of them. 


Such character is not developed in moments of great challenge or temptation. That is when it is used. Character is woven quietly from the threads of hundreds of correct decisions (like practice sessions). When strengthened by obedience and worthy acts, correct decisions form a fabric of character that brings victory in time of great need. ... Righteous character is what you are. It is more important than what you own, what you have learned, or what you have accomplished. It allows you to be trusted. It opens the door to help from the Lord in moments of great challenge or temptation.
-Elder Richard G. Scott, Trust in the Lord, April 1989 Conference

Education isn't really about careers, making a comfortable living, or even being a productive member of society, though those things will typically be among the effects. True education is more than just bringing our children to light and truth, even: it is teaching them to prize light and truth to such an extent that they will continue to actively seek them out, not only while "in school," but throughout their entire lives.


Knowledge of truth, combined with proper regard for it, and its faithful observance, constitutes true education. The mere stuffing of the mind with a knowledge of facts is not education. The mind must not only possess a knowledge of truth, but the soul must revere it, cherish it, love it as a priceless gem. 
-Joseph F. Smith


This reverence for truth doesn't happen by chance or by accident, any more than a beautiful painting creates itself. And it doesn't happen in an atmosphere that is "tolerant" of all "truth". The Holy Ghost is our guide to all truth, and we need him involved in our educational efforts! His job is to testify of all truth - not just the critical, but narrow, slice of truth we typically encounter in Sunday School. We need his assistance in learning the mulitplication tables and history, just as much as we need it in learning the Gospel.

The Holy Ghost is a revelator. He is the Comforter, who teaches us “the truth of all things; [who] knoweth all things, and hath all power according to wisdom, mercy, truth, justice, and judgment.” The Holy Ghost is a certain and safe guide to assist all mortals who seek God as they navigate the often troubling waters of confusion and contradiction.
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf, "What is Truth?"


Not so incidentally, it is character that enables us to have and to keep the companionship of the Holy Ghost. The more we practice making correct choices, the more it becomes part of our nature, our character, to do so -- and the more we qualify for the Lord's assistance in finding the additional truth and knowledge that are the more visible results of our educational efforts.

Dr. Christopher A Perrin of Classical Academic Press outlines nine principles of Classical Education in a series of videos they have shared. He suggests that there are many ways to look at Classical Education, including looking through the lens of the Trivium, composed of the Grammar Stage, the Logic Stage, and the Rhetoric Stage, such as is suggested by Susan Wise Bauer in The Well-Trained Mind. This book was my introduction to Classical Education, but I've come to the conclusion that the vision that I came away with, though it has served us well so far, is more narrow than it ought to be. Bauer suggested that the Trivium is a way of understanding how kids learn - little ones learn the basics in the Grammar Stage of education, middle school kids learn to see connections, patterns, and themes in their studies particularly history as they progress through the Logic Stage of their education, and in high school they bring it all together in the Rhetoric Stage, order to be able to speak and write persuasively about the areas of study that most interest them. But the reading that I've been doing recently makes me think that, while that is good (I am definitely still going to be referencing The Well-Trained Mind as I plan our studies!), there is more that Classical education has to offer.


Rather than grammar being a piece within every subject area, as it is usually expressed in the Dorothy Sayers model, Clark & Jain showed how the grammar school taught what a student must know to read The Aeneid: Quite a lot of basic understanding about not only reading, but also the world, geography, and society. To read The Aeneid with understanding requires not only Latin in a technical sense, but simply all those experiences and relations that children develop over years of learning about the world and people.
-Simply Convivial: What is the Point of Learning Latin



This type of education is bigger - more human - than I had realized at the outset. Another way that Dr. Perrin suggests is you could focus on how this type of education is designed to teach an appreciate Beauty, Truth, and Goodness. In his introductory video, he talks about how well these ideas dovetail with the Christian Ideal, and I found myself drawn back to the Thirteenth Article of Faith - but applied to education, an application I had never before considered.


We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.


Over the next few weeks - months? I don't know how long it will take to work through these ideas - I want to look at Dr. Perrin's suggestions and other elements of Classical Education, and ponder them in light of revealed teachings about education and the gospel.



19 September 2015

Psalm 6: Mercy



Mercy is "the compassionate treatment of a person, greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. ... Every blessing we receive is an act of mercy, more than we could ever merit on our own. (Source)"

Mercy is a necessity.


O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in thy hot displeasure. Have mercy on me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me...
-Psalm 6:1-2





 I struggled for several weeks to understand this chapter, reading and re-reading it. Then, one afternoon I re-read it after my five year old and I had spent an afternoon in conflict. It started with him not feeling 100%, escalated when he was asked to do his chore, and gradually engulfed our whole afternoon. I did not always keep my cool like I should have. That night after bedtime, I read these verses: 


O Lord, rebuke me not in thine anger, neither chasten me in they hot displeasure. Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am weak: heal me, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies' sake.
~Psalms 6:1-3


Then, I was able to liken it unto myself, and I finally understood.

O Mom, rebuke me not in thine anger... have mercy on me, for I am weak...

David is pleading for mercy. His sin, and the effects of his sin, are vexing him and he is crying out for relief. He needs healing, and he craves mercy.

Mercy is "the compassionate treatment of a person, greater than what is deserved, and it is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. ... more than we could ever merit on our own."

Mercy is a necessity - and our Savior specializes in mercy.



 

17 September 2015

Art Copywork: Norman Rockwell

We've been doing Norman Rockwell for artist study, and it's going pretty well, in spite of the kids' protests that he's not interesting. I think they're just not quite old enough to appreciate some of the stories he's telling, because Rockwell is hilarious.  One of the things that I've seen people talk about loving, as they're studying various artists, is copying the artist's work or style, so we're trying that. By calling it "art copywork" the kids knew right away what we were after: we were going to copy someone else's work in order to learn from it. I promised them that, once the copywork was finished, they could use additional papers to draw pictures from their own heads, which Dragon(5) was particularly excited to do.

First, we visited a Norman Rockwell exhibit here in town yesterday. Next, Hero(8) and I read a bit about Rockwell's techniques. My big takeaway was that he took his time and paid attention to details. Hero was introduced to the idea of planning your work before you put pen to paper, which he said he had never really thought about before.

Then, we all picked one of Rockwell's pieces off the internet, I printed out a little picture for referencing, and we all got to work.



It was about this time that I figured out why it is that people are spending time and money getting nice copies of works from their artist in binders: the little picture I'm working from is small. There is so much detail, but it's so hard to see - and worse after I put in a few lines to help me with the proportions, an aspect of art where I am notoriously weak. I looked at the internet, but it wasn't tons better there: things are still difficult to see, and I find myself wishing that I was at the museum again, where they had larger prints, so I could really see what I'm looking at. I don't know if I'll be able to do tons with printing things out right away, but going forward, it's definitely going to be something that's in the back of my mind.



Dragon and Tigress(2) painted with us, but they are still doing process oriented art: the painting is fun, but the product isn't so important, though it's fun to give it away as gifts. "Here, Mom! This is for you!" Dragon knows that I like it when they do art, and his work will go on our art wall when it's dried out.



But Hero and I had a good time with some more product oriented art: we were working toward a specific final goal. One way that our work is different from Rockwell's is that we're using our watercolors, and he worked in oils, which we don't have. And I don't know that we'll try those for a good while yet: I don't want to mess with all the thinners and cleaners and so on while I've got little kids. In the mean time, this is a nice opportunity to try to develop our skills working with watercolors.

Growing into Map Work

Growing into Map work: homeschool geography ideas


I love the Story of the World and its Activity Guides, but I've always felt a little bit inadequate with the map work. Maybe because we frequently forget to do it. Maybe because I've always felt like my own geography is barely adequate, and I'm not at all sure what to do about it. Maybe because there are so many intriguing places, but it's not maps that speak to me - it's stories. So that's what we've focused on. But maps are important, too, and I've been realizing that they add to stories, even tell stories of their own, if you just look long enough.

However, figuring out what more there ought to be... that's not easy. Yesterday, I happened across the term "map drills" on the Ambleside Forums. I still have no clue what, exactly, map drills are, but I did find something that's improved our map work. This post has some fantastic ideas. We tried this part today:

Find a map of South Africa in this atlas (student does the work for himself). Look at it closely. I’m going to pass out another map of South Africa as well as two blank maps. Spend some time with the maps: look at the colored, labeled map and spend some time with it. I’m going to pass out a list of features and locations that I want you to pay particular attention to, but notice whatever is of interest to you about the map.” After ~5-10 minutes instruct the student to fill in one of the blank maps, including everything that is on the list as well as anything else of interest to him. After another 5-10 minutes: “Okay. Please stop filling in your map now and let’s talk. Where is South Africa? What countries border it? What rivers do you see? Describe the country. What is the capital? Where is the capital? What mountain ranges do you see? What other geographical areas do you see? What else? What struck you about this map?”

We just read in Story of the World about Catherine the Great, of Russia, so we printed out a map of Russia. Then, I gave Hero our kids' atlas of the world, made sure that he knew how to use the table of contents (and pointed out that, Russia being so large, it's done in two different sections, so make sure to read them both), and walked away. That was hard to do, which is ridiculous. He's growing up, and he's ready. He can read it and then narrate it. But the micro-manager in me is resisting giving him responsibility. He did beautifully. I came back and re-read the post, so I'd know what I wanted to do next. When he was ready, I told him to find some interesting things on the maps, and also St. Petersburg. Then, I had him label those on his blank map. He looked around and colored in the water (I'd had Dragon do that on his, so he could tell it from the countries we were talking about), and colored in Germany (again, part of Dragon's exercise - it's where Princess Sophia came from when she married into becoming Catherine the Great). And he wrote a couple of city names on there, since he thought that the long Russian city names were the most interesting.

4th grade homeschool mapwork
Hero's map.
 Dragon did great with coloring Germany and the Baltic Sea, but when I traced out how big Russia is, he was stunned. And completely uninterested in coloring that whole big thing. Honestly, I can't say that I blame him; it's huge. So we got out a fat marker and drew big stripes. It still makes Russia pop, and emphasizes its bigness. Works for me.

1st grade map work idea
Dragon's map.

Then, we talked about latitude a little, and how we, as close as we are to America's northernmost point, are at about the same latitude as Russia's southernmost area. So we listened to some Russian folksongs, and looked at pictures of Siberia. Siberia boasts the coldest inhabited place on earth. There's some pretty fantastic pictures. But they do, in fact, have summertime. Looking at our globe, I also realized that basically the whole of the Asian portion of Russia is Siberia - it's huge! Much bigger than I had realized. (I love that I get to learn with the kids.)





I'm still interested in learning about what these mysterious "map drills" are, but in the mean time, we had a good time learning about Russia. I really like doing the map work as its own section, rather than thinking of it as a history add-on. At the end of the work, Hero and I talked about it and agreed like we both felt that this was more effective than what we've done previously. Hero had already read a book of Russian fairy tales, and now he's got not only the history that we've been reading, but also a sampling of their traditional music and a better idea where they were in the world. Dragon also got a lot of the same, though at a less in-depth level, which is fine, since he's 5. At the end, they both have maps to file away to help them remember the work they did. Not too shabby.

15 September 2015

Documented Life: Self Portriat

About a year ago, I discovered the Documented Life Project. And it sounded life fun, so I jumped in. Made a planner. Started to re-acquaint myself with my scrapbook supplies (the ones I hadn't gradually gotten rid of after I discovered digital scrapbooking), and generally had a lovely time. It's really satisfying to mess with art again; it's been a long time since I did much of that. Even the digital scrapbooking fell by the wayside after Tigress was in the NICU. For a long time after that it felt like we were playing catch-up. (Like more than a year; she couldn't go around people for months, and it had a lasting impact on our finances; plus, the stress... it just takes time to recover from a NICU stay.) There just wasn't room for so many of the pleasant things. But, we're doing much better now, I'm glad to say. And Tigress is getting bigger, as are the boys, and there's just more time availble for art. Not that I've done every challenge. Not by a long shot! But I've done some challenges, and that's more art than previous years. Plus, the planner gradually morphed from a planner with art into a commonplace book, with doodles. Which is interesting. And I'm keeping that in mind as I start thinking about how to set up for next year. But. That's not ready yet.

So. The other day I was looking at their inspiration and challenges again, and I found this fantastic tutorial. It's for paint. I don't usually mess with paint, much. And I'm frequently unsatisfied with the work that I do. The medium isn't familiar, and it doesn't behave the way I think it should. But, unlike many tutorials that I've looked at, this one left me feeling like, "Hey, I could do that!"

So I'm giving it a try.

First, you pick a selfie, and print it out. I picked one I took a while back. We had been hiking, but my ankle was more sprained than I'd realized when we started out, and the hike was more challenging than it had appeared when we chose it, so the Daddy offered to come pick me up in the car. While Tigress and I waited, I snapped the picture, and I turned it black and white when I printed it for this exercise.



Then you mark it up with a soft lead pencil. The tutorial has directions. I had to dig around to find a soft pencil. I found it and marked up my photo. We look kind of creepy, all marked up like that. But one thing I've learned from Photoshop: the process can be ugly and still turn out a great product. I trust the process more than I used to. 


The graphite transfer is barely there, but it's enough to go on, and it is sure a lot easier to get proportions right when there's a bit of a guide! I'm pretty excited about this process, so far. Doesn't look like much,  yet, but those lines in exactly the right spots are pretty awesome.


Next, you draw in more of the detail, using your photo as reference. With the rest of the lines on it, my photo was hard to use, so I printed a second copy and got to work. I actually ended up using both with and without lines as I drew. The  biggest challenge with this step was that doing the lines like this reversed the picture, and I'm not used to working reversed.

Ugh. The reversing of the picture is becoming a problem; I need and eraser. But the one I tried didn't work. My daughter's face is fine; I'm even happy with it. But all the oops-other side moments are making me look like a clown. The scary kind. I think I need to call in the big guns: I'm texting my sister. She messes around far more often and with much more skill. (She even designs baby clothes!) It's time to consult. 


At this point, I let it sit for several days. Partly because, well, life happened. Partly because I was frustrated. As the frustration faded, so did some of my dissatisfaction. So I added a few extra details and was ready to get started on the paint.

After looking at my tutorial again, I realized that the artist has a video of her process, so I watched that:



In the end, I'm pretty pleased, particularly for the first time I've tried a technique. Next time I do this sort of thing, I think one of those dramatic photos with the face half in deep shadows. It would, I think, work better than the photo I did use, which was slightly overexposed. 


 

14 September 2015

Send Me


Doing surgery on a zebra that has sprung a leak was not on the list of things I anticipated that I'd do when I became a mother, but my two year old daughter is so delighted when her zebra is "all better". I'm delighted too; her delight makes me grateful to be at home to do these "inconsequential" things. Because I don't believe that they're inconsequential at all; I am building a relationship with my daughter. The zebra is just one of many moments where she learns that her mom is there for her.

"Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. ... Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children."
-The Family: A Proclamation



It's a big job, Mothering, and there are a whole lot of things that look inconsequential, when viewed individually. But, for my daughter, the two minutes I spent fixing her toy (rather than throwing it away because it's broken) are a BIG DEAL. Nurturing, Mothering, in many ways they are more than the sum of their parts. It's one of those places where the Lord takes the small and the simple, and magnifies it for His great works. Doing His work means that I spend my days doing small, simple things. Things that, taken individually, don't look like much. Any single moment, any single day, probably isn't going to look very significant. But looks can be deceiving.


Read the rest at We Talk of Christ, We Rejoice in Christ.




12 September 2015

Seven Quick Takes

:: 1 :: 

I've been feeling a bit uncertain about how we're doing our artist study, so I've been reading about how others do it. I think the broad strokes are good; it's the details that I want to bring into better focus. One suggestion was to put the artist into the Book of Centuries, and that's a fantastic idea that I think we'll do, maybe even later this week. Hero is big enough now that the Book of Centuries is ready for a come-back. And I want to get mine out as well, and add to it again. But another suggestion, from Master Amabilis,  was to give each child their own copy, and then to create a binder of both their copies, and also of works they do in imitation of the artist under study. I like that idea, and I think we may just try it. That blog also had some good ideas that can improve our observation and discussion of these works, I'm thinking.



:: 2 ::

I'm having a blast putting together a planner thing for the next year. Really, it's going to be an art journal/commonplace book/planner/scrapbook thing and I am so excited. I've had something similar for this year, but I'm making some changes for the next year. Notably, I purchased planner pages, and the whole thing is in a 3-ring binder, so I can move any blank pages around or remove them. My planner pages will start October 1st, so I've got until then to get things ready to go. I need to add some empty cardstock pages, so that I can have a place for the art journal part, but it's getting closer!



:: 3 ::

I've accidentally discovered a wonderful way to get my bread to rise perfectly: put it in a cast iron pan that's been heated for just a minute or two. My kids inform me that it is awesome. I'm delighted to have a consistent way to get the stuff to rise!

:: 4 ::

The other day it rained in Tokyo (shocking, right?). I follow some random people from Tokyo on Twitter because it gives me a chance to try my hand at reading real Japanese from real Japanese people, the way it's really used. But in very small pieces. And almost all the profiles that morning said some version of, "Hey guys, it's raining. Take care of your health, ok?" I grabbed those sentences and added them to my collection of phrases that I'm studying, and I am looking forward to the next time it rains, to see if it happens again.

:: 5 ::

This week, we had what may be the most awesome blanky fort the kids have built to date. So much so that I got them a snack to eat while they were in there, and put off some of our book work for a while. Sometimes, you just have to make room for the magic as it happens.


:: 6 ::

I listened to a delightful podcast from the CiRCE Institute this afternoon, an interview with Andrew Pudewa of the Institute for Excellence in Writing. I learned a couple of things. One, he's a violinist - and a pretty serious one: he went to Japan and studied with Dr. Suzuki. Our violin teacher just took the Suzuki training, and so far it's pretty awesome. Anyway, he told this story about a new student that joined them in Dr. Suzuki's classes, and how he was told to go practice a particular bow exercise 10,000 times. The student thought this was hyperbole... but it wasn't. Mr. Pudewa talked about the differences in Eastern and Western thought on the matter of repetition, how a Japanese student likely would have taken that seriously, gone home, figured out how long it would take, and started working. But the student in question thought it was hyperbole, and was shocked the next week when he was expected to have it done, or at least well underway. The story has me pondering the implications for my own martial arts study -- and my kids' work on math facts.

:: 7 ::

I'm making jalapeno honey. To eat on cornbread. And my mouth is very excited.



01 September 2015

Commonplace Sampler: August

Do not ask your children
To strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
But it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
And the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
Tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
When pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
In the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
-attributed to "That Parent's Tao Te Ching" by William Martin


When we gather to worship at local churches, behind all our prayers and all our songs, behind all our exhortations and all our encouragements, is this stunning truth: God hears.
-"The Most Important Ear in Worship", DesiringGod.org


If you want to find greatness, don't go to the throne, go to the  cradle. There is mighty power in a mother. She is the one who molds hearts, lives, and shapes character.
-Flora Benson,


The Church, in large part, exists for the salvation and exaltation of the family.
-Ezra Taft Benson, To the Mothers in Zion


President David O. McKay declared: "Motherhood is the greatest potential influence either for good or ill in human life. The mother's image is the first that stamps itself on the unwritten page of the young child's mind. It is her caress that first awakens a sense of security, her kiss, the first realization of affection; her sympathy and tenderness, the first assurance of love in the world."

President McKay continues: "Motherhood consists of the three principle attributes or qualities: namely, (1) the power to bear, (2)the ability to rear, and (3) the gift to love... This ability and willingness to properly rear children, the gift to love, and eagerness, yes, longing to express it in soul development, make motherhood the noblest office or calling the world. She who can paint a masterpiece or write a book that will influence millions deserves teh admiration and the plaudits of mankind; but she who rears successfully a family of healthy, beautiful sons and daughters whose influence will be felt through generations to come... deserve the highest honor that man can give, and the choicest blessings of God."

With all my heart, I endorse the words of President McKay."
-Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Mothers in Zion."


Marriage is the rock foundation, the cornerstone of civilization. No nation will ever rise above its homes.
-Ezra Taft Benson, October Conference, 1982


"I hate slavery, Jeth, but I hate another slavery of people workin' their lives away in dirty fact'ries fer a wage that kin scarce keep life in 'em; I hate secession, but at the same times I can't see how a whole region kin be able to live if their way of life is all of a sudden upset; I hate talk of nullification, but at the same time I hate laws passed by Congress that favors one part of a country and hurts the other."
-Bill Creighton in Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, p40


"I don't want you to go, Bill. I don't think I kin stand it."
"Listen to me, Jeth; you're gittin to be a sizable boy. There's goin' to be a lot of things in the years ahead that you'll have to stand. There'll be things that tear you apart, but you'll have to stand 'em. You can't count on cryin' to make 'em right."
-Bill and Jethro Creighton in Across Five Aprils, p44


"We mustn't give trouble a shape before it throws its shadder."
-Ma Creighton in Across Five Aprils, p100


"They needed recreation and laughter as they needed food. In other years the little house had buzzed with the teasing and squabbling and hilarity of a crowd of young people. ... Now the cabin had the look of a lonely old man brooding in the summer sunlight."
-Across Five Aprils, p122-123


"Experience is an expensive school, but a fool will learn from no other."
-Japanese Proverb


"Yes, mothers, teach your children the gospel in your own home, at your own fireside. This is the most effective teaching you children will ever receive. This the the Lord's way of teaching. The Church cannot teach like you can. The school cannot. The day-care center cannot. But you can, and the Lord will sustain you. Your children will remember your teachings forever, and when they are old, they will not depart from them. They will call you blessed - truly their angel mother.

"Mothers, this kind of heavenly, motherly teaching takes times - lots of time. It cannot be done effectively part time. It must be done all the time in order to save and exalt your children. This is your divine calling."
-Ezra Taft Benson, "To the Mothers in Zion"


He is not here for He is Risen as He said. -Matt 28:6


Where the town and villages did not engross the shore, the rich orchards and vineyards extended down to the very edge of the water. The plain of Galilee was a veritable garden. Here flourished, in the greatest abundance, the vine and the fig; while low hills were covered with olive groves, and the corn waved thickly on the rich, fat land. No region on the earth's face possessed a fairer climate. The heat was never extreme; the winds blowing from the Great Sea brought the needed moisture for the vegetation; and so soft and equitable the air that for ten months in the year, grapes and figs could be gathered.
-For The Temple: A Tale of the Fall of Jerusalem by G. A. Henty, p3


We have succeeded fairly well in establishing in the minds of Latter-day Saints that they should take care of their own material needs and then contribute to the welfare of those that cannot provide the necessities of life. If a member is unable to sustain himself, then he is to call upon his own family, and then upon the Church, in that order, and not upon the government at all.
-Boyd K. Packer, "Self Reliance", 2 March 1975


We recognize at once that it would be folly to develop welfare production projects to totally sustain all of the members of the Church in every material need. We ought likewise to be very thoughtful before we develop a vast network of counseling programs with all of the bishops and branch presidents and everyone else, doling out counsel in an effort to totally sustain our members in every emotional need. If we are not careful, we can lose power of individual revelation.
 -Boyd K. Packer, "Self Reliance", 2 March 1975, emphasis added


When you have a problem, work it out in your own mind first. Ponder on it and analyze it and meditate on it. Pray about it. I’ve come to learn that major decisions can’t be forced. You must look ahead and have vision. What was it the prophet said in the Old Testament? “Where there is no vision, the people perish” (Proverbs 29:18).
Ponder on things a little each day, and don’t always be in the crisis of making major decisions on the spur of the moment. ... Once in a while a major decision will jump out at you from the side of the road and startle the wits out of you, but not very often. If you’ve already decided that you’re going to do what is right and let all of the consequences follow, even those encounters won’t hurt you.
-Boyd K. Packer, "Self Reliance", 2 March 1975


Now, about revelation. We have all been taught that revelation is available to each of us individually. The question I’m most often asked about revelation is “How do I know when I have received it? I’ve prayed about it and fasted over this problem and prayed about it and prayed about it, and I still don’t quite know what to do. How can I really tell whether I’m being inspired so I won’t make a mistake?
First, do you go to the Lord with a problem and ask Him to make your decision for you? Or do you work and meditate and pray and then make a decision yourself? Measure the problem against what you know to be right and wrong, and then make the decision. Then, ask Him if the decision is right or if it is wrong. Remember what He said to Oliver Cowdery about working it out in your mind.
 -Boyd K. Packer, "Self Reliance", 2 March 1975


The word GRACE, which, as applied to prayer over food, always in pre-Elizabethan English took the plural form GRACES, means nothing but thanksgiving (if. the Latin gratiarum actio and Italian grazie, "thanks").
-Catholic Encyclopedia: Thanksgiving Before and After Meals


If you want children to keep their feet on the ground, put some responsibility on their shoulders.
-Attributed to Abigail Van Buren on Facebook



Charlotte Mason says something similar about Darwin:
"We know how Darwin lost himself in science until he could not read poetry, find pleasure in pictures, think upon things Divine; he was unable to turn his mind out of the course in which it had run for most of his life."
It is not science that is the danger, I don't think, but the act of limiting the curriculum, of keeping our lines of thought so narrow that we become incapable of fully human thought.
-After Thoughts Blog: The Necessity of a Broad and Generous Curriculum, emphasis original.



Recovering education is a long-haul, generational process, not one we have to successfully check off by the end of our children's K-12 journey.

If we are planting Latin seeds that we hope will mature over the coming generations, then it is also true that the last 100 years of modernist education have not only mown down the crop grown in the soil of Latin, and liberal arts learning, they have done their best to sow the fields with salt as well.

As we recover, it is not simply a matter of planting a new crop and reaping a full harvest over one season, or even one lifetime. Our first plants will be spindly and pathetic. Plugging away, slowly but steadily is not only planting seeds we hope will grow, it is fertilizing the soil so that crops planted after us have a better chance of success. If our job is primarily soil recovery, our crops might not be impressive, but our work makes future crops possible.

SO DON'T GIVE UP.
-Simply Convivial Blog: What is the Point of Learning Latin, emphasis original.


Plant identification is all about patterns. Related plants usually have similar characteristics for identification, and often similar uses. Instead of being clueless when you encounter a new species, you may recognize its family pattern. You may not know its name, but recognizing the family pattern narrows down the range of possibilities when searching for an identity. Moreover, you may know something about the lant's edible or medical properties, just by recognizing which family it belongs to.
-Botany in a Day, p19


Security is not born of inexhaustible wealth but of unquenchable faith.
-Spencer W. Kimball


A lie has many variations; the truth none.
-African Proverb


...if education is about filling young minds full of facts, then a meltdown really is getting in the way. But if education is about formation–about becoming something other than we are–then meltdowns are an opportunity.
-Afterthoughts Blog: On Inconveniences in Homeschooling: Meltdowns and Other Messes


AN ART as used in the “liberal arts,” is a mode of producing something other than the art itself. The liberal arts are ordered to produce knowledge and therefore are the arts of thinking. In fact, the Latin word “artes”, from which we derive our word art, is their translation of the Greek word “techne,” from which we derive words like technique and technology. When a person learns an art, he directs his attention to learning a skill, not content or information about a subject (even if that subject is called “art”). The liberal arts are not, therefore, concerned with a general familiarity with a wide range of subjects. Instead, they are concerned with the foundational skills of thinking that are needed to learn any subject.
-CiRCE Institute, Definition of Terms

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