Sunday, March 30, 2008

"Seven Blessings for One Marriage" -- and Our Big Fat Jewish Wedding




As I mentioned in the bridal shower post earlier today, I wrote a poem for my daughter Mary and her beloved fiance Ryan called "Seven Blessings for One Marriage." This may sound like an odd title, but my dear future son-in-law loves messianic (Christian) Judaism, and the number seven holds great Biblical symbolism for him.

This is the scanned version of the poem before we framed it. Joanna added the embellishments along the sides using strips of scrapbooking paper, which go nicely with the silver-grey frame. I am also including a full size copy of the words, since these are hard to read. However, if you double click on the picture it will be enlarged!



Seven Blessings for One Marriage
by Virginia Knowles

Reverence
As you stand side by side in humble awe of Him,
Devote and purify your hearts to please the Holy One in whom
Justice and mercy met on the cross.

Wisdom
As you ponder the mysteries and epiphanies of life,
Think, imagine, listen, linger, and reflect with one another.
Learn from the LORD and His Word: Know and then do.

Light
As you reflect the larger luminescence,
Seek to mirror the marriage of Messiah and his beloved Bride,
A radiant, translucent testimony of grace and glory.

Purpose
As you embark on a journey of excellence together,
Move forward faithfully and fruitfully as partners
On your mission: a grand adventure of faith and destiny.

Joy
As you drink of the abundant sparkling fountain,
Make a merry melody and holy harmony to celebrate our Creator,
Who beautifully fashioned each of you for each other.

Peace
As you confess, forgive, reconcile, respect, and embrace,
Let shalom, wholeness, blossom as an olive branch,
And you shall be united in the One who makes all things new.

Love
As you commit to cherish and nurture one another,
Surrender, serve, and sacrifice with loyalty and affection
In the sacred marriage which our God has entrusted to you.

May these blessings be yours in the LORD!



~*~*~


I presented the framed poem to Mary at her bridal shower. Later that day I gave Ryan his own copy, and he mentioned that during the wedding, the rabbi will actually pronounce seven blessings (Sheva Brachot) in Hebrew and in English. They are having a mostly Jewish wedding with at least the key elements like the chuppah (wedding canopy), the bride circling the groom, the ketubah (marriage contract), crushing the glass and more. There will even be Hebrew dancing at the reception, led by members of Gesher Shalom's dance worship team. It's going to be a cultural experience for all of us since none of us (including the groom's family) grew up Jewish. You can find out more at "How To Celebrate a Traditional Jewish Wedding" Mary received a little box in the mail that day from Tel Aviv, Israel. It was Ryan's wedding ring -- and not an ordinary one! It has the Hebrew words for "I am my beloved's and he is mine" pierced all the way through it. Way cool! It reminds me that Thad bought my engagement ring in Israel when he was on a trip with his dad. I went to Israel in 1980 on a mission trip and still have a lot of my own interesting souvenirs. Ryan and Mary hope to go there in a couple of years.

It also dawned on me that day that Ryan reminds me of my father-in-law, Ted Knowles, who passed away in 1997. Ted loved to travel (he visited over 100 foreign countries and worked in many of them for months at a time), he had an insatiable appetite for learning, he enjoyed meeting new people, he loved to laugh and have fun, he worked hard, and he lived as simply and unpretentiously as he could, but was so generous with others (including our family). He used to take our girls to concerts and plays, bring them little treats, read story books to them, and sing silly songs. He would have loved to meet Ryan, but now at least I'm happy to see Ryan picking up where Ted left off. We are blessed.

Oh, and as a side note, does anyone have a chuppah that we can borrow?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Mary's Bridal Shower

Yesterday was Mary's first bridal shower, hosted by Missy Oliphant. Many years ago, "Mrs. O" was Mary's English teacher at Smith Prep, a classical home school program that Mary attended in her early high school years. Later, Mary worked under Missy as an administrator and grader for Smith Prep. Missy and Mary became very dear to each other! Anyway, she and her daughter Mei were really kind to throw this lovely tea for Mary, with almost 20 ladies attending. Here are a few pics!


Mary opened her presents and read the advice written by the guests. My friend Cheryl said that many women try to "train their husbands and serve their children" when it should be the other way around! Good counsel!

Donna Tindall is Ryan's mom, and you know who I am!

I can tell I'm going to really enjoy being related to Donna by marriage! She is so sweet!



Here I am with my five oldest daughters! (L to R: Lydia, Joanna, Mary, Rachel and Julia)



I've known these lovely ladies, Carrie Lauretta, Cheryl Bastian, and Leah Kessel forever. It seems like just yesterday (actually it was when Mary was in 6th grade) that some of us started a monthly tea club for moms and daughters called Rubies and Roses. We moms were the rubies and the girls were the roses! Ah, those were the years -- and these are, too! Cheryl didn't have a daughter in our group, but she was part of the Northland Home Educators support group with us, and she is one of my dearest friends. I met her just a few weeks after we moved back to Florida in 1993, when Mary was only six. Her husband Mike was our home group leader for quite a while, and they were our home school evaluators for many years, too. When Mary was a freshman in high school, Cheryl arranged Mary's first newspaper internship for her. She has certainly watched Mary grow up!



This is my Julia, who turns 19 in a few weeks.

My main bridal shower present for Mary was a poem called "Seven Blessings for One Marriage" that I wrote. Joanna embellished it with scrapbooking papers along the edge before I framed it. I scanned the finished product, and I'll put it in a separate post.

Miss Melody

Miss Melody is two and a half, and full of mischief. But yesterday she said something so sweet and cute and I couldn't help but laugh and call my mom.

I had just changed her messy diaper, and she looked up at me and said, "Good job, Mama!" I think that is the only time one of my children has ever praised me for changing them! Wonders never cease!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Another GOOD day at Providence

"Another good day at Providence!" That's what I always say on Monday afternoons. We've been in the Providence Home Educators co-op for nearly 2 years, and I haven't had a single bad day yet. There are few things that I enjoy more than teaching English or history, and today I got to do both again, since I was subbing the history class for the teacher who just had a baby.

Further down on this blog you can see my post about last week's co-op. Today, for the 5th-6th grade history class, I had been planning to continue with a lesson on Russian history from the A Beka textbook. But at 4 o'clock this morning I woke up with the phrase "Bible translation" in my head. Now that isn't as random as it sounds, because by "divine coincidence" I had met a couple at church, John and Carole Orr, who have just finished their training with Wycliffe Bible Translators, and they had been sharing with me about cluster translations. Also, one of the moms in our co-op has just organized a field trip to Wycliffe's WordSpring Discovery Center for next month. So I figured this would be an ideal time to teach the kids a little about Bible translation to get them so psyched up that they would go home and pester their moms to take them on this field trip! Anyway, I went back to sleep, but when I woke up again I started raiding my book shelves for any and all resources about Bible translation, including Pass the Word (a history of Wycliffe missions), another Wycliffe book for children called From Akebu to Zapotec, our totally dog-eared copy of Missionary Stories and the Millers by Mildred Martin, a video of the Jesus film, etc. When I got to the teacher's lounge this morning, I mentioned my plans to Jeannette Walti, who is the 3rd-4th grade history/geography teacher. She jokingly asked if she could bring her class in to join us -- and I took her up on it! The more the merrier! As it turned out, we were able to team teach the class, since Jeannette's husband Lee had worked for years at the Jesus Film Project for Campus Crusade, and it has been one means of spreading the word of God in countries that have little Christian witness. (I don't know how many languages it has been translated into, but it's a whole bunch!) She also shared about how she and Lee have applied to be missionaries with Saints Equipped to Evangelize in Italy. While she was teaching her segment, I was able to use her computer and the church's wireless Internet service to pull up an audio version of the Arabic Bible at Bible Gateway and play a portion of John 1. We were also able to encourage the children to not take for granted their own Bibles, but instead to read them every day. Oh, and at the beginning of the class, following a suggestion from free downloadable curriculum at the Wycliffe web site, I had brought in a container of homemade wheat bread left over from our Easter dinner. I offered a piece of it to just one student, and asked the rest of the class if they thought that was fair. Of course, they all wanted some, especially since it had some honey on it. So Jeannette served the bread and honey while I related this to how the rest of the world needs the Bible, too. It's not fair for us to be able to eat the "bread" of God's message to us when the rest of the world doesn't have it. Think of it: there are over 2000 language groups in the world which don't have any book of the Bible. That is 193 million people! As the children ate their bread and honey, I pulled out a Spanish-English Bible I had bought for Mary before she went to Bolivia a few years ago, and read a portion from Psalm 19 about God's word being sweeter than honey. Of course the kids couldn't understand what I was reading in Spanish, but that was the point. We each need the Scriptures in our own language. So I read it in English, too. (I thank the Lord every day for the gift of his word. It truly is food for my soul, and like other food, I try to make sure I get more than one meal a day. I love to sit in my rocking chair and read my Bible, with notebook in hand to copy down meaningful verses and reflect on them. What a treasure!) Finally, we read a story from Missionary Stories and The Millers called "The Talking Tortilla" about how missionaries learned to use hand-cranked record players to share the Gospel stories with those who could not read the Scriptures.

The day didn't stop there. After lunch, the entire co-op had the privilege of attending a session presented by the students of a story telling class led by my friend Doreen Morgan. (These home school students are not from our co-op. We just made a really nice ready-made audience for them!) So for my 7th-8th grade English class later in the afternoon, I decided to capitalize on this and let that be my topic for the day. We talked about what makes effective story telling. I whipped out my little note pad, where I had jotted things down during the story telling session, and showed them how important it is to always have a place to record things that we need to remember. We talked about elements of story telling, including descriptive words, our voice (volume, pitch, rhythm, pauses, etc.), our gestures (including mime), etc. We reviewed that stories have a beginning, a middle, and an end, with appropriate transitions along the way. The plot builds and eventually there is some sense of resolution or wrap-up, unless it is a cliffhanger installment or unless it purposely leaves you "unresolved" to make you ponder the message. The purpose of stories can be to inspire, entertain, persuade, teach facts (such as history), or to express ourselves -- or any combination of the above. Finally, we read a short story about World War II that one of my students had written for one of our recent creative writing assignments. During the class, I also reminded the kids how important it is to LISTEN to the stories of others (and even draw them out), as a way of communicating care and ministering to others, and as a way to build their own wealth of knowledge and understanding about the world, and how we deal with various situations that life brings, etc. As always, I encouraged them to think deeply!

I am so thankful for how each of these classes turned out today, and I know that the Holy Spirit helped me along the way as I tried to share with my much loved students the subjects that I am most passionate about.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Easter Poetry & Art

In light of Easter coming tomorrow, here is a whole bunch of poetry that I have written over the years, as well as a few pieces by Amy Carmichael, missionary to India, from her book Toward Jerusalem, which has always been a favorite of mine. Finally, at the end, there are also some links for artwork on-line. I also encourage you to read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22:1-18. These were written hundreds of years before Jesus was born, yet they foretell his death as the Messiah.
Rhapsody in M
by Virginia Knowles

Myriad mercies:
more and more
merited? no! no merit in murky miserable me
Mystery:
manic malice meted on Messiah Martyr
Mighty and Meek
Miracle:
manic malice meted on my Mediator misses me
marvelous mercies ministered on me
Majestic Master:
master me
move massive mountains in me
make merry melodies in me
mirrors of Thee in mere me
more and more
myriad mercies


Alabaster Jar
by Virginia Knowles from Matthew 26:6-13

Alabaster jar, costly sweet perfume
Devotion broke it open
Fragrance filled the room.
Poured over Jesus’ head
Anointing for the grave
Some saw only money lost
Jesus blessed the love she gave.
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.
Can you see his love? Messiah on the cross
Body broken, blood poured out
For our sin’s redemption cost
Can you see his power? Victory over death
Hell could not contain him
Nor quench his living breath
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.
Lord, break me for your glory, pour me for your name.
Let me share his sufferings and power just the same.
Crucified with Christ is what I want to be,
For when I’ve died to my old life, I’ll rise up to be free.
Broken and poured out, broken and poured out
But there’s no waste of life, just fragrant sacrifice
And it’s all because of love.


Who Is There Like Unto Thee?
by Virginia Knowles

Who is there like unto Thee, O Lord,
To Thy name give glory!
Full of compassion, righteousness and truth,
Full of strength and power, and clothed in majesty!
And yet on the cross, you were willing to bleed,
And you met us there, in our time of need.
And now at your throne room, we may boldly enter in,
To receive grace and mercy again and again!


Creator on the Cross
by Virginia Quarrier, 1984

Oh the love of the Holy God
For man whose life was lost
No greater love there is than this
My Creator on the cross.
He made me, yet he died for me
He paid the greatest cost,
The blood of Jesus Christ the Son,
My Creator on the cross.
Grace abounding and mercy free
Set fire to my frost
My blackest sin washed white by him
My Creator on the cross.

How Will They Know?
by Virginia Quarrier, 1980

When I was young, I went to Sunday school.
I learned “Do Unto Others”, that Golden Rule
I learned that Jesus loved children and fed the sheep,
But I never did give him my soul to keep.

How will they know unless we tell them?
How will they know unless we show them from his word?
I don’t like to think of where I would be right now,
If I had never, never heard.

Heaven was just like Santa Claus,
You’ve got to be good to get your reward,
You have to do right or you won’t get in.
No one told me that God forgives sin.
I guess I knew that Jesus died,
The pictures on the wall showed him crucified
But no one told me what he died for
I really wish they had told me more.

Easter was just a new spring dress,
Dolling up in our Sunday best,
Bunnies and chickies, and “Watch how you behave!”
No one told me Jesus rose from the grave.
No one told me that he was coming again
To take his loved ones back with him.

I thought when he left he was gone for good,
I only wish I had understood.
No one told me to ask him in
To enter my heart and take out the sin
To take my life as Savior and Lord
And that he was knocking on my heart’s door.

Somebody finally told me all the things I’m telling you.
Somebody finally told me all the Gospel truth.
I finally told Jesus I wanted him as my Lord,
When somebody finally cared enough to show me from his Word.
How will they know unless we tell them?
How will they know unless we show them from his word?
I don’t like to think of where I would be right now,
If I had never, never heard.


Psalm to Sweet Jesus
by Virginia Knowles

Sweet Jesus, you bring to me all that is good:
Comfort and hope when I am discouraged,
Peace and reconciliation when I am in conflict,
Strength and enthusiasm when I am weary,
Wisdom and guidance when I am confused,
Courage and confidence when I am afraid,
Forgiveness and mercy when I have done wrong.
You bore the fatal punishment that I deserved,
Yet rose up again in power,
Promising that if I would turn from my awful sin,
And believe in your awesome grace,
I could become your own precious child,
And enter into your everlasting Gloryland.
Such a rich salvation that I could never earn!
As a simple gift of gratitude,
With help from your Word and your Spirit,
I will trust and obey your loving commands,
I will worship you with my prayers and songs,
I will serve others joyfully,
I will share your Good News,
So that each one who hears and believes
May receive the matchless treasure
Found only in you.


Follow You
By Virginia Quarrier
(written sometime in college?)

When I serve you, Lord
I wait for a pat on my back
Until I remember
Whips came down on his back
Bloody raw
I want people to shake my hand
Until I remember
They nailed his hands
To the cross

And oh, my Jesus
What you have done for me
What have I done?
What can I do?
Unless I take up my cross
And follow you.


No Scar?
By Amy Carmichael

Hast thou no scar?
No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
I heart them hail thy bright ascendant star,
Hast thou no scar?

Hast thou no wound?
Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
Leaned Me against a tree to die; and rent
By ravening beasts that compassed Me,
I swooned:
Hast thou no wound?

No wound? no scar?
Yet, as the Master shall the servant be,
And pierced are the feet that follow Me;
But thine are whole: can he have followed far
Who has no wound nor scar?

The Sign
by Amy Carmichael

LORD crucified, O mark Thy holy Cross
On motive, preference, all fond desires;
On that which self in any form inspires
Set Thou that Sign of loss.

And when the touch of death is here and there
Laid on a thing most precious in our eyes,
Let us not wonder, let us recognise
The answer to this prayer.

Love’s Eternal Wonder
by Amy Carmichael

Lord, beloved, I would ponder
Breadth and length and depth and height
Of Thy love’s eternal wonder,
All embracing, infinite.

Never, never have I brought Thee
Gold and frankincense and myrrh,
In the hands that groping, sought Thee,
Precious treasures never were.

What was that to Thee? The measure
Of Thy love was Calvary.
Stooping low, Love found a treasure
In the least of things that be.

O the Passion of Thy loving,
O the Flame of Thy desire!
Melt my heart with Thy great loving,
Set me all aglow, afire.
~~~~~~~~~~~~
Art Links
These are links I gave to my English class last year during a mini-unit on Easter. Michelangelo did a sculpture called Pietà. Leonardo da Vinci painted his masterpiece “The Last Supper” as a fresco (click to enlarge the picture). You can find many paintings of the scene from Gethsemane on-line.

Friday, March 21, 2008

My Artwork

I thought you all might like to see some art work that I have done throughout the years, both as a teen and a young adult, and one recent piece. I'm hoping this might be an encouragement to you to nurture your own creativity, and to give your children that opportunity, too. Arts are not optional!

I painted this for my husband Thad in 1984, the year I met him. (I just knew I was going to marry him!) The grey water jug and the pink cloth were from my trip to Israel in 1980. I should note that I took oil painting classes at an art studio when I was about 15. I'm really thankful that my parents were always so willing to spend money on art classes, music lessons, and lots and lots of books! Thanks, Dad and Mom! You invested well!



This oil painting was a wedding gift for my sister Barb and her husband David in 1982. You can read about the symbolic significance of this painting at The Throne of Grace.



I made the "flying geese" quilted pillow for my late mother-in-law when I was pregnant with Mary. I did several quilted pillows of various designs for Christmas presents that year. Two of the ladies from church showed me how to do log cabin patchwork, too. I'll always be indebted to them for that kind of "Titus 2" mentoring since I was still a newlywed.

Within the next year, I designed (from scratch) a baby quilt for my daughter Mary, who was born in 1987. I colored and cut up pieces of index cards to figure out how I wanted to arrange the pieces of this quilt. It is entirely made of triangles, which are easy to sew together. I used six pastel colors, and each color is adjacent to its neighbors ones on the color wheel (yellow is next to orange and green, etc.) I used a sewing machine for the whole thing because I haven't ever had the patience for hand quilting. My friend Cheryl has made baby quilts for a few of my children, and they are hand tied, which is relatively quick and durable.





I made this pop-up Valentine card for Thad this year. My supplies (which my girls bought me for Christmas) were blue and red cardstock, thick water color paper, a metallic gold paint pen, ribbon, tacky glue, curvy scissors, a utility knife and a cutting mat. I used the translucent gold ribbon to connect the three hearts: God, Thad, and Virginia. The Bible verse is "Beloved, let us love one another, for love is of God. 1 John 4:7." There is a heart at the bottom for each of our children, including the wee little baby we lost to miscarriage twenty years ago.


This rest of this is some of my artwork from my teen years that I pulled out of a box in the closet. The kids enjoyed looking at it even though some of it wasn't in very good shape. At one point, my career goal was to be a professional artist, but my dad told me I would have to learn to drive a taxi to support myself... I also had an art teacher in my junior year who sort of squelched the fun of it for me. But I still enjoy creating when I can!




My art class portfolio cover from 10th grade (1978-1979) shows some of my interests -- Christianity, art (the crossing pencil and paintbrush), Scotland (the Bruce clan tartan), computers, and hang-gliding. It should be noted that our TRS-80 Model 1 computer had a cassette drive for storage... The "skywriting" shows my maiden name (Virginia Quarrier) in overlapping colors. I used a large piece of poster board for this project.




Here are two renditions of the same still life, one with pen and ink, and the other with multi-media, including fabric and tissue paper. I did these in my junior year at W.T. Woodson High School in Fairfax, Virginia.




We did water colors in my sophomore year at Cockeysville High School in Maryland. I always found water colors to be more challenging than oils because once you lay the paint down on the paper, it stays there. With oils you can scrape it up or mix it differently if you didn't do it right in the first place. However, oils are more complicated to clean up. I haven't used oils since my early marriage because of all the chemicals involved, and how long it takes to dry.



A dulcimer is an American folk instrument from the Appalachian mountains. We used to see them at the Renaissance fairs when we lived near San Francisco. My brother John had already bought one, and I got mine in 8th grade. They are really easy to play, laying flat on your lap as you hold a little dowel across some of the strings with one hand and strum with the other. The self-portrait must have been after I went to Scotland on a Teen Missions trip in the summer of 1979, because that's where I got the hat.

If you don't have a lot of money to invest in fancy art supplies, you can still draw! Just check out some books from the library so you can learn basic skills like shading and perspective. Then buy a few decent pencils, a sketch pad, and a kneaded eraser, and you're set. Practice, practice, practice! (And you don't have to be perfect.)

Well, that's a bit of my old artwork! What do you have in your closet?

You Can Exercise, Too!










The first two pictures were taken in our backyard, but the rest were at the YMCA, where we try to go twice a week. Thad usually takes some kids to the basketball course while I work out in the cardio room.

These last two pictures might be an encouragement to those middle aged mamas who think they can't exercise. I have had joint problems all of my adult life, and I am way overweight after having 10 babies, but if I can do it, you can do it, too! You just start slow and work up. When we first started going to the Y last summer, I could barely do a mile on the treadmill, and not very fast. Now I usually go on the treadmill for a mile, then do the FitLinxx weight machine circuit (more than 10 machines), and then go back on the treadmill for up to another mile, including maybe a quarter mile of jogging. When I started on the FitLinxx machines, the trainer adjusted everything for me and got me set up on the computerized system. It tells me what settings to use based on my body (how far I can reach, etc.) so that I don't hurt myself. I can increase the weights whenever I want, and I've been able to do that bit by bit over the past several months as I have become increasingly stronger. Again, you start small and work up. You can do it!

And, if you think you can't afford the YMCA, why not apply for a scholarship? Ours pays for half of our monthly fee, based on our family size and income. The YMCA offers great deals for families, and they usually offer child care as well! My little ones love the play room at the Winter Park YMCA where we go. They have all of the cool toys and outdoor equipment that we don't have at home. Give it a try! Summer's coming up soon, too, which means lots of swimming!

Good Friday!

It's Good Friday, the day when Christendom remembers the sacrifice of Jesus for the sins of the world. Every year, I send out an article I wrote called Is the Cross a Way of Life for You? which I invite you to read.

Also, a few years back, I put up a page called "The Throne of Grace" which features a painting I did in 1982, as well as the words to a little song I wrote and some other thoughts.


Blessings,
Virginia

Thursday, March 20, 2008

It's a root canal, after all...

I went to the dentist yesterday with tooth pain that's been going on for quite some time. My dentist had already taken x-rays, which showed no problem. On a previous visit, he had adjusted an earlier filling to make the bite more comfortable. That had helped a little, but not enough. So after another normal x-ray, he did a tap test and an electronic pulp test -- still no problem was apparent. It was only when he applied extreme cold to the suspected tooth that I yelped loudly. As I continued to moan in pain, I could hear him say the words "root canal." I had been hoping all these months that we could avoid this, and I have to give him credit for trying to spare me of it! So, even though getting a root canal done isn't my favorite way to spend a morning (or over $1,500, including the crown) at least the end of my pain is in sight. I have an appointment on April 1. No fooling!

As a consolation, I went and got my hair cut last night. I've been wanting to do that for the longest time, but just hadn't had a chance.

Such mundane things, but this is my life, such as it is!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Sleep talking? (and more)

Mary said she came into my bedroom last night and told me that she had been reading my blog. She said that I told her to make sure that all the words were there and that they hadn't been stolen. I remember having this conversation and being very serious about trying to convince her of whatever I was saying. But obviously whatever I said made no sense at all! So was I sleep talking, or not? (Of course, even when I'm wide awake, I still don't always make any sense at all...)

Mary and Ryan are on their way over to meet the rabbi for one of their pre-marital counseling sessions. They go to a messianic (Christian) synagogue, Congregation Gesher Shalom , and their wedding will have some distinctly Jewish elements to it. This should be very interesting! Mary says she's looking forward to going to a Passover Seder soon. Thad and I went to one with some friends many years ago, and it was quite meaningful. I notice from their web site that Gesher Shalom even has their own home school support group!

We've been really grateful for the support that our own church, Metro Life, has given to home school families. Not only do we have a private school enrollment option (The Regent Academy), but we have support meetings for dads and moms, tutorial classes in certain high school subjects (for a reasonable weekly fee), enrichment classes for all ages, and an active sports program (varsity basketball and golf, adult intramural basketball, and soccer for the younger children). In addition, Metro Life has been very gracious about renting all of the classrooms to our Providence Home Educators co-op for Monday classes.

We actually spend a lot of time at "the building." (My girls remind me that a church is not the building, the church is the people, so we say, "I'm driving to the building" rather than "I'm driving to the church." This always amuses me, as much as I agree with their logic!) At least one of our kids is at "the building" nearly every day of the week, either for home school classes, work (Rachel is on the maintenance crew), playing or watching basketball, helping out with an Alpha class small group, or Sunday morning worship. I'm glad they like the place and the people so much! I do too!

Monday, March 17, 2008

My day at home school co-op

As many of you know, our family is enrolled in a home school co-op with about 25 other families. We attend classes all day on Mondays each week. I teach middle school English, which I absolutely love, and I've been subbing in the 5th-6th grade history class for the past few weeks as well.

My daughter Mary mentioned the other day that she is filling out a job application for a private school teacher placement service, and needs three references of people who have seen her teach. So I arranged for her to come and teach segments of three classes in our co-op and had some of the other teachers come in to observe so they could write the references. She is also getting a reference from a charter school teacher whose class she guest-taught a year and a half ago.

The history class has been studying Russia, and Mary is taking a course in Russian history this semester at UCF, so that was an obvious choice. She taught them about 19th century serfs and czars for almost 20 minutes. Then, later in the day, she taught my English class about journalism, giving a 30 minute overview on how to be a good journalist, and what her experience has been with internships. After that, she went into the high school English class and gave them a ramped up version of the same presentation. I must say that she did an excellent job in all three classes! And I didn't need to prepare as much material myself.

Since today is St. Patrick's Day, I found an article, Will the Real St. Patrick Please Stand Up?, on the web about him, as well as the poem "St. Patrick's Breastplate." I read both pieces to the history and English classes, with a little (OK, a lot) of my commentary along the way. And I also brought in a Yo-Yo Ma CD with a cello concerto by Antonin Dvorak, a Czech composer, since the history class is also studying the rest of Eastern Europe. So I had a pretty good time at co-op today. Actually, every week I go home and say, "That was another good day at Providence!" I haven't had a bad day there yet, and we're almost done with our second year.

Mary's "Hope Chest"

OK, so for the past ten years I've been publishing an e-mail newsletter called The Hope Chest Home School News. I named it that because I hoped it would be filled with inspiration and useful information for other moms. But a hope chest in the traditional sense of the word is a special box that a young woman receives in preparation for marriage. In it, she starts gathering lovely items she will need after her wedding. Some of it, like quilts, she has made herself in anticipation of her new life. Other things, such as silver candlesticks, might be family heirlooms.

Well, now I have a daughter who is getting married in about 7 weeks! And I confess that I never gave her a hope chest -- until today. You see, several days ago I couldn't find my plastic kitchen cutting mats (thin, flexible cutting boards), and I figured someone had thrown them away since they were all carved up. So I bought some new ones. The same thing happened with my kitchen shears a few weeks ago. Well, in both cases, it was a matter of someone putting them away in the wrong place. I found everything that was missing, which left me with duplicates. So when I was cleaning cabinets today, I offered my extras to Mary. But I knew that her bedroom was already getting stuffed with wedding stuff, so we had to figure out a safe place to put them. So, her "hope chest" is -- a Rubbermaid plastic storage box! Imagine! True confession! Well, it may not be as romantic as a cedar chest, but it does the trick... And I really did make a quilt for her, when she was a baby. You can see it in my March 21 post of my artwork. And, at least, as the oldest of ten siblings, she has plenty of memories (hopefully warm ones) tucked away in her heart!

P.S. I also remembered I had a couple of cookbooks with healthy foods I knew her hubby-to-be Ryan would like. And Mary bought a nice set of dishes at a yard sale for $5. I guess I taught her well in thriftiness! So that "hope chest" (of sorts) is filling up. The dishes are in their own cardboard file box, so I guess that is Hope Chest #2. So glamorous, I know!

P.P.S. Mary was telling about some apartments that they are going to look at. I replied, "Oh, how exciting! Your first apartment with your first..." -- and I started to say "hubby!" Mary got quite a laugh out of that, and immediately called Ryan, who assured her that he's in for the long haul! I'm glad he has such a sense of humor, even if he has threatened to duck tape my future grandchildren to the wall if they get out of line! (And yes, he is kidding. He's very good with little kids! Mary says he's even more excited about having kids than she is, but then again, he is the younger of two siblings, and she is the oldest of ten!)

Family Cleaning Day

A few weeks ago our church set aside a day for some of the youth to visit various homes in the congregation and help folks with whatever projects needed doing. Thad and four of our daughters participated in this. This gave Thad the idea of doing our own Family Cleaning Day at least once a month, so he marked March 15 on the calendar as a day when we would all spend about three hours doing some concentrated cleaning. The night before, I bought some extra cleaning supplies and wrote out my wish list of what we needed to do. Thad added his ideas the next morning. We tackled our laundry piles (marking the boys' clothes with one dot for Andrew, two dots for Micah, and three dots for Ben), sorted socks, scrubbed walls and door frames, wiped the kitchen cabinets, and cleaned the bathroom. I was on wall duty most of the time and I sure can say how much I love two particular cleaning products: the Magic Eraser for its ability to take pen marks and other stubborn stains off of walls, and Goo-Gone or De-Solv-It for taking off crayon and adhesive residue. Highly recommended! I can't wait for our next Family Cleaning Day! Good idea, honey! Maybe we'll get this house clean after all!
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