Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Have a Thrifty, Frugal Christmas!

You know the song, “Have a Holly, Jolly Christmas”, right? Well, start humming and then add in the words:

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas!                          
It’s the best time of the year,
I don’t know, if there’ll be snow
But the family will have cheer!

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas,
And when you see your children smile,
You’ll know they’ll remember this
For years and years with bliss.

Ho ho, the Spirit’s glow
Shining in your home,
This is what you’re waiting for,
The Savior Christ has come!

Have a thrifty, frugal Christmas!
And in case you didn’t hear,
You can simply
Have a holly, jolly Christmas
This year!

Did you have fun with the silly sing-a-long?

But mostly, did you get the message?

Christmas is….Christmas. 

And the message of Christmas is that
Jesus came to earth…
                                   God promised,
to live a sinless life…
                                            …as God promised,
to make the perfect sacrifice…
                                            …as God promised.

The manger and the cross. What more do we need?

When you’re planning your family Christmas celebration, remember that we don’t need all that stuff that we would like to buy….

Simplify your Christmas this year – hold on to dear traditions, but don’t fall into the trap of lights, candy, loads of food, and presents and more presents…

Give yourself….

…make cookies with your little ones
…read a book together

…play games together

…volunteer to ring the bell for the Salvation Army




Have a thrifty, frugal, simply awe-filled Christmas!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Classical Education in our Home part 5: The Homeschool Mom

Homeschooling is more than just keeping the children home for school.

A homeschool mom is


Pursuing her own education

 What do you want your children to learn? 

I wanted my children to understand the times and the world they inhabit, the result of a classical education, so I had to learn to understand them myself. Part of learning classically is having a large view of history, philosophy, science, and God. Does that sound like an overwhelming task?

It can be if you let it. So don’t let it be overwhelming! Trust God to teach you what you need to know when you need to know it. Learn along with your children.

Remember, learning is a building process. You can’t open up your head and pour information into it any more than you can do that to your children.

                Layer upon layer upon layer.

Start with what you already know – if you’re like me, it’s very little – and then look ahead to the next thing you don’t know.

I didn’t know the timeline of history. Okay, I knew the Middle Ages came after the Roman Empire….and that’s about it.

So I bought a copy of Diana Waring’s “What in the World’s Going on Here?” tape set – it’s an overview of Judeo-Christian history. I listened to it a couple times, but never used it in our homeschool, because the children were too young when we owned it. But it opened up doors for me – it gave me the overview of history that I had been missing.

             It was the hook to hang all my other history learning on. That's what an overview is good for!

Every subject was like that. I was a babe teaching babes, 

but at least through educating myself a step ahead of my children, I wasn’t going into that woods completely blind.

Monday, October 10, 2011

October Sunshine

Autumn is here.

This new place has yellow leaves

No reds
Just yellow

But what a yellow!

Bits of sunshine against the dark Ponderosa Pines flash in a treasured memory for the white days ahead…

Friday, September 23, 2011

It's a blessing...and a curse.

Alzheimer’s Disease is a curse…

…but blessings abound within it.

Mom and Dad with their Drexler grandchildren, 1993

My Dad’s words today: "When I went into Greencroft, there was music.  All residents who could were in the meeting room listening to former Miss PA of about 40 years ago singing songs from the 40's and 50's accompanied by her trombone playing husband and a big band in an electronic box. 

Veva was alert and enjoying the music.  When I sat down next to her, I was greeted with a big smile of acknowledgement.  The music had brought her alert.  And, Mark, when I told her that you phoned me last evening she knew who you were.  I took her for a ride around the building before her lunch of ham loaf and sweet potatoes."

I can see her in my mind
toes tapping
hand conducting
voice humming

a big smile for her dear husband of 61 years.

Blessings abound.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Classical Education in Our Home part 4: the method

I won’t share our mistakes
except to say they were many
…and rose mostly from my pride

and trying to jump in with both feet.


I did learn something very important from my mistakes:

Children are living, growing, developing people.
Not mini-me,
Not monsters,
And not perfect.

Children learn things in small doses...
…liquid drops melting into their mouths and running down their throats…
...a bright cherry-red drop of Rome, a blueberry drop of Latin, a strawberry drop of prime numbers
...drops and layers growing into a stalagmite...

A foundation of knowledge.

Knowledge of simple things that the child builds on as experience widens.

Rome wasn’t built in a day,
children don’t learn everything in one year,
or one exposure.

Repetitio Mater Studiorum.
...repetition is the mother of learning...

I learned to bake with phyllo. Lay down the dough, spread the melted butter, another layer of dough, another layer of butter.
Layer upon layer, until you have a single whole.


That’s the method when teaching children.
Year after year of layers and the children start making connections between the familiar pieces.
Things make sense.
The foundation is firm.

The early years – basic stuff – the grammar, the mechanics, the what of language, math, science, history.
Spelling, phonics, reading.
Counting, number relationships, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.
Nature exploration and much time spent outside experiencing sights, smells, textures.
And the who and what of history. The early years are for biographies and historical fiction – learning about people.

The middle years – building on the foundation – the logic, the why
Grammar, classical languages, logic, more reading.
Numbers play games in algebra.
Science separates into different disciplines.
The why of history: why did these people do what they did? What else was going on?

The later years – getting ready to branch out – the rhetoric, the how…
Learning to take ideas, analyze them, examine them, judge them…how do they relate to each other? How do they affect me and my life?
Critical thinking about science. Does this make sense? How and why?
Knowing what happened in history and why; but how could these things happen, and how can we influence our world for the better?

The method
the discipline
the learning
evolved over time…

...but the joy came in bright flashes
when we made connections
to the learning
to each other
and we know
this moment is forever.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Classical Education in our home part 3: answering the call

God calls.
We listen and respond, right?

How many times does God’s call go unheeded because our first reaction is fear?
What if I can’t?
What if they won’t?
What if I’m wrong?
But where God calls…
…where God calls He equips.

HE equips.

Internet searches are fine – if you know what it is and how to use it. This was 1996. We had a computer, and email. But the internet was in its infancy back then.
But a friend had heard of this school in Pennsylvania
…and one in Idaho…
Classical Education was finding its feet in private schools.
Some say it had never left.
I found Calvert School. I found Greenleaf Press.
We started our second year of homeschooling armed with a desire to educate our children

We read. I studied.

God brought Charlotte Mason to my attention.

I studied more, adapted, made do with a small, very small, budget.

Veritas Press. Memoria Press. Sonlight. Susan Wise Bauer and The Well Trained Mind. Tapestry of Grace.

I studied history, Latin, math.
I dove into the Bible.
I learned the things I should have learned in those naive years between 12 and 20.
A plan developed; a method.

My poor children. Guinea Pigs, all.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Classical Education in Our Home part 2: the Call

Part two has been a long time coming! My only excuse is that our family life has been in huge upheaval over the past year...but we are finally re-employed, re-located, re-establishing and ready to start again. If you've read my blog post from December 2009 - we are living out that post once again :)

So, today's question is: what led us to a Classical Education in our home?

Just before we started full time homeschooling - after one year of homeschooling our oldest, a move, another baby, and a few more years of public school - I was a children’s leader in Bible Study Fellowship, which meant a trip to Indianapolis for a retreat. The retreat was wonderful, but the most life-changing event wasn't in the teaching, or the discussion sessions, or in my personal Bible study - it was one little phrase, just two words, that BSF Director Rosemary Jensen used as she shared her personal story: "classical education."

It was one of those experiences that I can only describe as a door opening into a new world. A door I had been searching for without knowing what I had been looking for.

All through my own years in school I had always felt that there was something more than what I was seeing. Elusive bits and pieces floated just beyond the edge of my field of vision – details that would connect the disjointed bits and pieces that I was picking up in my education. I had a niggling feeling that there was a story behind the story, but it was like waking up and only being able to remember the feeling left by a dream without remembering anything else about the dream. I couldn't describe it to anyone, couldn't identify it…I wasn't even convinced it was real.

Until Rosemary Jensen said those two words.

God got my attention that day. Once I turned my face toward Classical Education, I never looked back. THIS is how we were to educate our children.