Sunday, February 28, 2010

A Podcast, a Party, and a Prayer

Dear friends,

Yesterday was a full day.  Besides the regular housework and checking some of the week's schoolwork, I had two special things going on.

First, in the afternoon, Karen Campbell of www.ThatMom.com interviewed me via the phone for a podcast on the topic of mentoring Christian women in the Titus 2 approach.  We mainly focused on marriage, motherhood, and home schooling.  In the end, we covered so much material that she is going to split it into two segments of 20 minutes each.  Her husband Clay, who was managing the sound equipment for us during the recording, is going to edit the audio.  The first segment will be available on her web site next weekend, and the second segment the following week.  I knew about the interview a few weeks ahead of time, and Karen sent me most of the questions so I could be prepared with answers.  But she did throw in a few extra ones that caught me off guard, so there are a bunch of times I tripped over my words and had to say,  "TAKE 2!"   I also wanted to make sure my kids wouldn't make background noise or interrupt me during the recording, so I drove to a quiet street in our neighborhood and sat there in the back seat of the van with my notes on my lap.  It was a bit chilly out, so I hope no one can hear my teeth chattering on the podcast!  I can't wait to hear how everything came out!  It was fun for me to look back on my life and the women who have mentored me throughoug the years, as well as casting a vision for how I see my own ministry of mentoring others.

After we finished the interview, I went home and made a big pot of chili for the kids' dinner. 

Then Thad and I drove about 40 minutes away to a party for our friends Lee and Jeannette Walti.  They have been in Udine, Italy since September 2008 as missionaries with S.E.E.  Now they are attempting to switch over to work with Pioneers in the Tuscany region, so they are in Orlando interviewing at headquarters today and hopefully starting a week of training tomorrow.  I think that Pioneers' innovative approaches to global outreach will be a great fit for our visionary Waltis. I'm so glad that they are "home" in Orlando at least for a week, even though they are going to be so busy that I won't see them much myself!  

Near the end of the evening, everyone gathered around Lee and Jeannette to pray for their ministry, their health (specifically Lee's asthma) and their family.  If you would like to see more pictures, I have posted them here.

And my prayer?  That whatever we do -- at home or abroad, whether through the Internet or through personal face-to-face friendships -- will be an inspiration to others to look to Jesus as the ultimate source of love, joy, peace, and grace.  How about you?

Blessings,
Virginia Knowles
 

Friday, February 26, 2010

A Legacy of Books

Dear friends,

If you know me, you know how much I love books. I like the quote by Erasmus: “When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes.”

In my mind, books and the love of reading are a legacy that we leave for the next generation.

Yesterday, I spent the morning typing in a huge list of American history and literature books that I want my kids to read for school next year. We're planning to drop out of our weekly educational co-op for a year so we can read all of the books on our shelves and write about them. Oh, and do a little math too.









In essence, we are going back to the unit study / Charlotte Mason whole book approach that we used with great success in our early years of home schooling. I am so excited! I can't wait to start! More details later on this.


I'd much rather leave my kids a legacy of great literature than of filling out worksheets. I miss spending hours reading to them, or seeing them curled up contentedly on the couch with an exciting book.

When I was young, my parents took us to bookstores and libraries very often, and we could pick out whatever we wanted. In our huge family, we don't have the budget to buy new books as often as we like, but we do buy a lot of used ones. My favorite used bookstore, Brightlight, just moved a mile away from our house, right next to a grocery store I shop at each week, so I'm sure I'll be there a lot more often now!


Yesterday afternoon, I took four of my kids to the public library's used bookstore, where they were having a clearance sale. While they were picking out what they wanted, I browsed the shelves, too. I bought three board books about Hanukkah for my grandson Jacob, who will be born in June. (My daughter Mary and her husband Ryan worship in a messianic Jewish congregation.) We've got to start the new generation on a love of reading from the very start!


I also found a sweet little book of quotes about children, which I just wrote about in a post on my Come Weary Moms blog. You can find it here: Children: Life's Greatest Treasure. Then I picked up several Christian books for myself.  

Finally, at the home schooling section, I spied a bright orange book I hadn't seen since our early years of teaching at home. It was Learning Language Arts Through Literature, using some of the same classic methods I have so loved about the Charlotte Mason approach. In a fit of nostalgia, I picked it up, opened the cover, and saw the handwritten name of one of its previous owners. My heart stopped. It was Shelley Colter, my dear friend who passed away suddenly 2 years, 1 month, and 25 days ago. My dear Shelley, who didn't consider herself a teacher, but did it anyway because she so loved her four "little women" and wanted to give them the best of books. She spend many years using the Sonlight Curriculum for that very reason. I bought the book and cried. I am crying right now. 


Shelley left a legacy of reading to her children.   I want to do the same for mine.

In the next issue of my home school e-magazine, the Hope Chest, I'll be reviewing a wonderful book by a young woman named Sarah Clarkson who was given this legacy by her own parents, Sally and Clay, whose book Educating the Wholehearted Child shaped our early years of home schooling -- the years I intend to recreate for my younger children.  This new book, Read for the Heart: Whole Books for Wholehearted Families, certainly played a part in spurring me on to that decision in the past month.  It lays a foundation for why we read to our kids, and describes hundreds of great books.  I took a list of them to the library, loaded up on them, and had a feast of reading them to my kids in the following days.

Coincidentally, when I arrived home from the library yesterday, there was another book waiting for me in the day's mail.  Sally Clarkson (mother of Sarah) has written a new book, Dancing With My Father: How God Leads Us into a Life of Grace and Joy and was kind enough to arrange for a review copy for me.  You will see that this next month, too!  I am thankful that these authors have taken the time to leave a legacy for me.

A legacy of books.

Gotta go read!

Virginia

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Orange Sesame Chicken (The Easy Way!)

Dear friends,

I love orange sesame chicken, but we don't often go out to eat at Chinese restaurants, and the stuff in the grocery store is too expensive. I've been trying to make my own, and after a few attempts I was sort of satisfied. Sort of. But it takes a lot of time to cut up chicken, and I couldn't get quite the texture I wanted. Then I had a brainstorm -- use breaded popcorn chicken fritters instead of raw chicken! So I bought a 25 ounce bag of popcorn chicken at Aldi (which was already seasoned with paprika and garlic) and stir-fried it with 1/4 cup honey teriyaki marinade, 1/4 cup honey, 1/2 cup orange juice concentrate, 2 1/2 cups of diced baby carrots, 1 tsp of ground ginger, and 3 tablespoons of sesame seeds (which I purchase by the pound at a local produce market -- much cheaper). I served it with white rice. I would have used more sauce if I hadn't run out of marinade and honey, but it was still delicious! Give it a try!
~*~*~
Blessings,
Virginia

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Melody and Bab

Dear friends,

This morning my little daughter Melody, four years old, was writing in her composition notebook where she likes to practice her letters and the names of everyone in our family. With excitement in her eyes, she turned to me and exclaimed, "Look Mom, I wrote dad"!"

I smiled when I saw the page. "That's great, honey, but you wrote your d's backwards! It says bab, not dad!"

With perfect aplomb, she replied, "That's OK! I'll just call him bab then!"

Now isn't that like human nature to redefine rather than redo?

Here's Melody and her bab. How do you like her sense of style? She dressed herself for church, snowman socks and all. Life will never be dull with Melody around, that's for sure!

With joy,
Virginia

Friday, February 5, 2010

Morning Walk


Beautiful morning sunrise silhouette!







I played hide and seek with this squirrel to get his picture.


















I try to walk with Tonya at least once or twice a week for an hour.  We've known each other for over 25 years!   She's got a great inspirational and practical blog here: Mrs. T.'s Thoughts For Moms

Thorns!  Fortunately, I saw them before I felt them.

Pansies have such cheery faces!  I used to grow these when I was a child living near San Francisco.  I need to get some for our yard!









The pansies were planted around three of these trees.


























The streak of light is from a plane trail -- nice effect!












Pay attention to tree trunks!
I tried to snap a picture of a woodpecker I hear in this tree each morning, but he was more elusive than that squirrel!









Cardinal in our young elm


Wren at our feeder







Camellia bush in our backyard -- the blooms are lovely floating in a crystal bowl on the dining room table











I hope you enjoyed my morning walk!

Joy and peace,
Virginia

P.S. Welcome to my blog!  As of October 2010, this particular post still gets a lot of visits from around the world via Google Images.  I invite you to browse through the blog for inspiration, or click on the "About Me" or "Best" tabs at the top of the page.  Please feel free to leave a comment, too!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

It's a Boy!

Dear friends,

For those who haven't already seen on Facebook, our first grandbaby is a boy! Jacob is due on June 24th, which is Mary's 23rd birthday. She is my firstborn, and I was 23 when she was born, too.

Congratulations to Mary and Ryan! We can't wait!

Books & Beyond Audio: "The Bible as Literature" and "Read, Reflect & Respond"

Dear friends,

I uploaded the audio of the two workshops I presented at the Books & Beyond literature conference in Orlando last month. I have also pasted in the text of the handouts, as well as an extensive set of web links for the Bible one. The workshops include some material that is not in the handouts and visa versa. For example, at the end of the first one, I spoke for a few minutes about using the Bible to launch our children into the grand adventure of life that God has prepared for them -- in faith and not in fear.

You can find all of them on my middle school blog, www.ContinueWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com, or click these specific post links:
There is also a new post on Problem Solving in Your Home School at my preschool/elementary blog, www.StartWellHomeSchool.blogspot.com.

Joy and Peace,

Virginia Knowles

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