Monday, November 7, 2005

Bible ABC Learning Kit


Check out our Bible ABC Preschool Learning Kit. It includes vintage illustrated Bible cards, Bible stories and letter recognition sheets for your preschooler. The cards can be printed on cardstock and placed on a wall or they can be printed on regular paper and you can help your child make a scroll from them as you explain that God's word was originally printed on scrolls. Also includes a few crafts and other activities, a beginning catechism and more. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, November 6, 2005

Sex and the Supremacy of Christ: A Review

I was not sure exactly what to expect when I began to read Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor. What I received was a wonderful series of lessons on a topic that was proved to me in the book to be one that is important to God in all of His wisdom: Human sexuality. Sexuality was not a topic that I had ever studied from a Christian perspective and I am glad to have had the experience of reading this book as a start to such a study. The breadth of topics covered was wide and varied and included chapters directed towards marrieds and singles of each gender as well as chapters on sexual sin and homosexual marriage. Although it may be tempting to avoid a chapter that does not seem immediately applicable to your personal situation, I found that if you live in a world with other people (and of course we all do) then it will be helpful to be aware of the perspectives of the various chapters.

For instance, I read and enjoyed the chapter on singlehood in Christ. I am not single but I still know single women and I am raising children who will find themselves single perhaps at least for a time of their adult life. One of the more interesting parts of the chapter on single women was a application of Proverbs 31: 10-31 to the life of a single woman.

As a married woman, I was definitely convicted by the chapter on marriage and sexuality. The author uses the Song of Solomon as a guide for how married women should romance and pursue our husbands. She discusses the importance of the attitude of receiving marital sex as a gift and not a chore or a burden. And lest you think that husbands were left were no responsibilities in marital sex the chapter on husbands and marital sex was full of good teachings as well. Men were warned to romance their wives mind and heart before her body and to be sure to save enough time and energy for a healthy, sacred sexual life within marriage.

As a former mental health professional, I found the chapter on sexual sin very informative. One major point of the chapter written primarily as a case study, is that the sexual sin may become an inappropriate focus of ministry. The author suggests instead that much attention be paid to early warning signs of sexual temptations and distortions in the relationship to God. The author relates that the battle to fight sexual temptations and sexual sin must usually be fought on many spiritual fronts.

The main thrust of the homosexual marriage chapter was attention to the challenge to the church not to look at the issue of homosexual marriage in isolation but rather as part of a larger problem in our society and in our church with marriage. Love of homosexuals with hatred of homosexual sin was emphasized. Perhaps the exhortation that impacted me the most in the chapter was that to discuss homosexual sin from the perspective that we are all sexual sinners. We are not to excuse homosexuality but merely finding it distasteful is not enough to give us any moral ground to oppose it. As Christians, we are challenged to reframe our words and views about sexuality and marriage in general to make way for us to wholly embrace the challenge of homosexual marriage. I found this chapter to contain the most biblically-based discussion of homosexual marriage that I am aware of to date. Instead of the usual inflammatory rhetoric, grace prevails in this chapter and we are reminded that no matter how "distasteful" the sin, we are to love, pray and lead homosexuals to Christ just as we would a liar or a thief. Sin is sin was one point emphasized by this chapter.

Finally, the last two chapters contained historical perspectives of Christian sexuality. One chapter discussed the marriage of Martin Luther and the other discussed the views of Puritan society. Both were interesting but I did not find them as meaty as some of the other chapters.

Overall, I enjoyed the perspectives presented in this book with its biblically -based views of Christian sexuality. I recommend this book both to other Christians and those who may not be Christian but who may be interested in Christian views of sexuality.

Many thanks to Mind and Media and Crossway Publishers for providing this book to review.

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine: Fall Issue Review

I received my eagerly awaited copy of my favorite homeschool magazine today, The Old Schoolhouse. I read my first issue over the summer and found it to be a very nice blend of product reviews, stories of homeschooling families, homeschooling advice and inspirational essays. The fall issue is even more enjoyable because of the feature stories in which readers share their favorite memories. It is obvious that the editors of The Old Schoolhouse, Paul and Gena Suarez, have a passion for what they do. Keep up the good work!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Busy Summer

We have had a busy and fun summer with a few sad unexpected twists. Chase enjoyed soccer and safety town as well as trips to the pool and riding his new bike. His Pool Birthday party was a blast!

We joined a new co-op that I am very excited about and we may be joining another one as well.

We have learned that Chase's great-grandma is ill and we lost one of his great-aunts recently.

My husband and I are working together not only on a digital photography how-to e-book but also on some alphabet cards for Chase and perhaps for other homeschool families as well.

I am busy reading still as a reviewer for Mind and Media.

Check out my other blog for inspiring words and images.

Thanks for reading!

Friday, July 15, 2005

NEA Resolutions: Is This About Education?

For the first time apparetnly, the NEA has decided to make its resolutions from their annual meeting available on their public website. If you were under the impression that the main role of the NEA is to champion public education, you may be surprised by the surprising lack of resolutions that have anything to do with education. From indoor air quality to boycotts of Gallo wines and WalMart, I am disgusted that this is the organization that claims to care so much about American public education. I wish that every parent with children in public school would take the time to make themselves more aware of exactly what America's largest teacher's union is up to.

Check it out for yourself at the NEA website.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

HomeschoolBlogger.com Community

I urge everyone who is even possibly interested in homeschooling to check out a new blogging site for homeschoolers. There is a wealth of information to be found there, mainly from a Christian perspective.

My blog there is at www.HomeschoolBlogger.com/victoriacarrington. Come by soon and say hello!

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Check Out My New Blog

Come by and check out my new blog. It is part of the wonderful homeschool blogging community sponsored by The Old SchoolHouse Magazine. There are many terrific writers and Christian homeschoolers and I have learned so much since I started spending time over there. Consider getting your own blog over there too.



I am at www.homeschoolblogger.com/victoriacarrington.

Blog This Button

I am trying out the "blog this" button on the Google toolbar. I am back from a lovely and restful trip to Lakeside, a Christian resort on Lake Erie in Northwest Ohio. Sam and I enjoyed the fellowship with other adults and the kids enjoyed all the attention lavished upon them. I will have pictures up soon!

Sunday, July 3, 2005

Post Removal

I have chosen to remove the post advertising for homeschooling families to participate in a show called "Wife Swap". I had never seen the show and was unaware of the details of the show.

I can certainly not tell anyone what to do and any family should proceed with caution before participating in any activity but I choose not to publicize this particular opportunity.

Friday, July 1, 2005

Homeschool Churches-Part 2

I have been inspired by all of the comments on my previous post on this topic at homeschoolblogger.com to continue to ask my endless questions and give my thoughts about homeschoolers and the Church. The topic of homeschool-friendly churches, family integrated churches and homeschooling Christians being called to protect our young as well as be salt and light has really got me thinking. I realized once I started writing on this topic that my heart was burdened with these issues more than I realized. Whenever that happens, I know I have touched on a topic I need to pray more about and I will definitely do that.

I understand that I will probably always experience some tension between being salt and light and affecting others in the service of the Kingdom and others influencing me with their negative or suspicious attitudes. However, I wonder if this tension will lessen as my children grow both in academically and in the Lord. It seems like it may be easier to explain to an older child why others do not educate as we as we do than it is to tell that to a 4-year old. Part of the problem is that I do not want to be dishonest. The fact is that I feel that homeschooling is Biblically mandated given the current state of education in America. I do not judge those who choose not to homeschool and I love them just as Christ does but I will not say "Oh, homeschooling is just a choice we made but if you do not even want to consider if it is right for your family that is OK." I agree that homeschooling may not be right for everyone but certainly Christians should at least seriously consider homeschooling their children, especially those in church leadership, in my opinion.

Because homeschooling is an important part of my faith and church attendance is part of my faith as well, I am struggling to find a way to make everything come together for good. Even as I write this I remember that it is not my job to struggle with this. God will make all things come together for the good of me and my family as we ove Him and are called according to His purpose.

I can relate to one commenter on my previous post on this issue at homeschoolblogger.com who discussed church calendars often being filled with many activities that seem to interfere with family life. Again, this could be because I have very young children that can not participate much in organized church activities.

I should say for the record that I love my church and I do not feel "persecuted" as a homeschooler there. There are other homeschooling families who are very supportive. The vast majority of families in the church of course have not made the choice to homeschool. I do wonder what it would be like to worship on Sundays with a group of more like-minded people who feel that it is crucial to homeschool our children in America today. A homeschool support group is perhaps the logical alternative.

I am pondering this issue in a very rhetorical way- I do not feel I will actually move on any of these issues any time soon. The exchange of ideas has been wonderfully thought-provoking and will provide rich fodder for my prayer life.

Discussions such as these help me to focus on what is most important: My relationship to the Lord and His Body and my relationship to my family.

Keep all the great comments coming.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Book Review: Jesus by Leith Anderson

With excellent writing and careful historical documentation, Jesus: An Intimate Portrait of the Man His Land and His People by Leith Anderson will be a valuable addition to any Christian’s library. A biography of Jesus that integrates the four Gospels in chronological order, Jesus gave me a fascinating look at the life of Jesus that added to my knowledge and understanding of the Bible.

Difficult to put down, Jesus is told in such a way that the reader is captivated, wondering what will happen next. Of course, I was already very familiar with the stories of the Bible. Jesus gives an added dimension of history and geography (including maps) that vividly reminded me that Jesus was in fact fully human while he was fully God. While reading, I could feel Jesus’ sorrow upon the death of Lazarus, concern at the Wedding at Cana and his anguish towards the end of his life. The apostle’s confusion, the amazement of those who were healed and the anger of the Pharisees was nearly palpable.

Informative sidebars give historical references, cultural backgrounds and definitions that add to the understanding of the related text without being disruptive. “Legion” and “talent” are defined, towns are described and people are profiled. In fact, those sidebars are one of my favorite features of the book. Larger boxes containing information on major topics were also very helpful and were found throughout the book. The Herods, the Samaritans and leprosy were a few of the topics discussed in this manner.

Some major points that were bought home to me as a result of my reading of this book about the life of Jesus:
1. Jesus spent much time traveling and this travel was often uncomfortable and difficult
2. Jesus spent much time healing and bringing the joy that comes with healing to others
3. Jesus spent much time teaching, often repeating the same lessons for different crowds
4. Jesus felt that prayer was essential, despite his very full schedule and frequently sought periods of solitude.

Overall, Jesus made me feel closer to Christ and desire even more to become more like Jesus each and every day.

Thanks to Mind and Media at www.blogforbooks.com for graciously providing this book for review in cooperation with the publisher, Bethany House.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Submissions Wanted From Homeschool Bloggers

How would you like to have your blog featured in a book?

I am working on a book titled Homeschooling, Blogging and Loving It: The Best of Christian Homeschool Blogs and I am seeking blog posts on various topics to be featured in the book. I envision the book to be a source of encouragement, inspiration and information for both new and veteran homeschoolers through the lens of everyday stories from a wide range of Christian homeschooling families.

The book will be arranged according to various categories. Feel free to submit entries to more than one category.

I am still seeking a publisher or agent for the book so I am not able to offer any compensation for your entry at this time.

Please e-mail me your submission before July 31, 2005.

I will keep you posted on the book's progress. Please let all of your blogging buddies know about this!

Book topics are posted below-let me know of any others you feel should be added:

• Why We Blog
• How We Homeschool- A Typical Day
o Traditional Homeschool
o Eclectic Homeschool
o Classical Christian Homeschool
o Christian Unschooling
o Bible-based
o Unit Studies
o Notebooking
o Carschooling

• Prayers and Devotionals
• Curriculum Reviews
• Subjects
o Science
o History
o Reading
o Writing
o Bible
o Math
o Early Childhood
o Sports/Physical Education
o Field Trips
• Favorite Recipes
• Organizational and Scheduling Tips
• Family Relationships
o Life With Teens
o Little Ones and Homeschooling
o Multiple age levels
o Marriage
• Controversial Opinions
• Most Popular Posts
• Populations
o African-American Homeschoolers
o Learning-challenged Children
o Single Parents
o Working Parents
o Home Business Families
o Homeschool Dads
o Home Educated Children


Thanks in advance for your help with this project!

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Homeschool Churches?

I wonder what it would be like to attend a church in which the leadership and most of the members of the body followed Biblical mandates for women to focus on their homes and homeschool our children. It can be difficult for me at times to be ministered to by those who do not agree enough with my view of the Bible to live a home-centered lifestyle themselves.

This is a difficult issue for me. I feel that the Spirit led us to our present church and there are many good things there. But I always have an unrest in my Spirit when leadership discusses the fact that they are pleased that their children are attending public schools. How can this be?

I feel at times that I almost want to surround myself and my young family with homeschoolers only because other Christian homeschoolers seem to be the only ones who truly respect and understand the decisions our family has made regarding our home-centered lifestyle.

Is it wrong to somewhat isolate your family, especially when your children are young and impressionable? Is it wrong for me to only seek out support from godly homeschooling ladies because others may steer me wrong and I too am a newbie in the affairs of Christian homeschooling? I once went to a Bible study in which in the first minutes of my first class I was treated to a discussion of the other moms about how they could not wait until their toddler children were in school so that they could have more free time. I had to fight the urge to flee before I even began!

The above are questions that my husband and I are discussing and I am praying mightily about.

Yet another reason why prayer, not curriculum, conferences or materials, is the cornerstone of my homeschool.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Homeschooling in the News

Homeschoolers are showing up in the mainstream more and more these days and as a huge homeschooling advocate, I think that this is a very good thing. I am excited that many more parents, especially Christian parents, may come to view homeschooling as a viable and desirable alternative to "traditional" education. Of course, homeschooling is as traditional as education gets but somehow that fact has gotten lost over the course of the last century.



I hope that most in the homeschooling community will welcome the new generation of homeschoolers (myself included) with open arms. We may not have to fight for the right to homeschool the way the pioneer homeschoolers of the Eighties did and we have many more resources available to us but we still share the same basic desire to educate our children at home.



Check out the article here from the Boston Globe that emphasizes the point that homeschoolers are very well-socialized and well-rounded. Examples are given of the activities of real-life area homeschooling families. I like to read about what homeschoolers around the country are doing (I guess that is why I spend so much time on this site!)



The next article is from the St. Petersburg Times in Florida and it paints a very interesting picture of how homeschooling there grew from being illegal about 20 years ago to capturing more students than voucher schools today to the tune of at least 51,000 homeschoolers. The reporter makes the point that homeschooling has been an antidote to the disconnected dual-career family hustle and bustle for growing numbers of families.



Check out the funny anecdote about the mom who used to avoid the homeschooling "freaks" at the playground but who ended up homeschooling 4 years later!



Interesting trends noted from the article:

Over the past decade, the number of children parented by stay-at-home moms increased 13 percent - more than three times the overall increase in the child population.



While Baby Boomers sought to "have it all" through work, family and possessions, Generation Xers are increasingly likely to forgo a second income, it said. "Instead of trying to fit family into their work life," the study concluded, "Generation X parents are more likely to try to fit work into their family life." Homeschooling is a way to do just that.

While Baby Boomers sought to "have it all" through work, family and possessions, Generation Xers are increasingly likely to forgo a second income, it said. "Instead of trying to fit family into their work life," the study concluded, "Generation X parents are more likely to try to fit work into their family life." Homeschooling is a way to do just that.



One slightly odd comment from an otherwise sensible quote from a sociologist regarding homeschooling as a way to bring families closer together:



"Homeschooling," said New York University sociologist Mitchell Stevens, "is a really creative way through a problem" in an American society "that hasn't figured out how to have women work and create a reasonable system of parenting." Homeschool parents, he said, "give up income and suspend a career aspiration for a while. But you get this kind of unstructured, unscheduled time with your kid, which is something that otherwise only really affluent people can do."



"...otherwise only really affluent people can do." Huh? So either you can be independently wealthy to allow you to homeschool your children or you can sacrifice, scrape and pinch pennies to do so? Okay, so what is his point exactly?



By the way, I do not know of any wealthy families who homeschool. Do you?

Friday, June 24, 2005

I am a Soccer Mom!

Well, sort of. Chase just finished his very first, week-long soccer camp. What fun it was to watch him and the other 3- to 5-year old kids attempting to master the sport of soccer. From figuring out which way they were to run with the ball to remembering not to pick the ball up, watching how they did not play by the rules was as fun as watching a more formal soccer game.

Chase has had a ball making new friends and they usually play together at the playground after the camp. He gets pretty wiped out from soccer and sleeps well at night as a result. Alyssa was pretty agreeable and pleasant and not hardly fussy while waiting for her brother to finish playing. I bought a small ball with us that she plays with on the grass then she eats a snack and before you know it, it is time for us to leave.

I have enjoyed chatting with the other moms. Overall, it has been a fun week with terrific weather to top it all off.

Soccer moms of the world look out- here I come!

Wait a minute, there is a problem. We do not own a minivan. Oh well. I guess my soccer mom status is on hold for now.

I am a Soccer Mom!

Well, sort of. Chase just finished his very first, week-long soccer camp. What fun it was to watch him and the other 3- to 5-year old kids attempting to master the sport of soccer. From figuring out which way they were to run with the ball to remembering not to pick the ball up, watching how they did not play by the rules was as fun as watching a more formal soccer game.

Chase has had a ball making new friends and they usually play together at the playground after the camp. He gets pretty wiped out from soccer and sleeps well at night as a result. Alyssa was pretty agreeable and pleasant and not hardly fussy while waiting for her brother to finish playing. I bought a small ball with us that she plays with on the grass then she eats a snack and before you know it, it is time for us to leave.

I have enjoyed chatting with the other moms. Overall, it has been a fun week with terrific weather to top it all off.

Soccer moms of the world look out- here I come!

Wait a minute, there is a problem. We do not own a minivan. Oh well. I guess my soccer mom status is on hold for now.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

More on Feminism

LaShawn Barber has posted an excellent, very personal post about her desire to become a traditional wife and mother. I applaud Lashawn's courage in sharing her view that she believes in traditional marriage roles and is looking for a man who shares the same. The (many) comments on the post are also quite interesting and thought-provoking. Check her out.

Read more on how the fall-out from feminism is affecting our boys in government schools in my post here.

Check out my posts about how I spent my early post-college years attempting to reconcile my feminist views with the desires of my heart here.

Monday, June 20, 2005

New Homeschool Blog

I am enjoying my new blog over at www.homeschoolblogger.com, a site sponsored by This Old Schoolhouse magazine.

The site is nicely set up and some of the features such as random blogging and a running list of newest blogs, most frequent commenters and most recently updated blogs truly inspire a sense of community.

I also enjoy that fact that many of the bloggers are Christian homeschoolers who share Scriptures and prayers that I find very encouraging.

Check it out and consider starting or transferring your homeschool blog to the site!

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Reasons to Homeschool Your Son

This article is a good overview of the problems paguing boys in our schools today. Unfortunately, the crisis that began in our elementary schools has now spread to our colleges.

Once again, we are left to deal with the fall-out of well-intentioned but WRONG liberal feminists. They felt that by promoting the academic achievement of girls over that of boys, they were doing society a favor.

The problem was, their premise was wrong. The historic feminist movement is based on the fact that men are bad. If men are bad, then boys, being the precursor of men, must be bad also. Even writing this hurts my heart in a siginificant way! To paint my sweet little boy as a caricature of a brutish, club-wielding male is so painful! How horrible to believe that an entire gender is just no good! Isn't that what feminists fought against? There should not be a "war" between girls and boys. I do not have a problem bringing girls up to par alongside boys. But this should not be done at the expense of boys.

The worse thing of all is it is hard to envision how this tide will ever be turned around. The problem is that the liberal feminists responsible for the current skewed poicies need to save face. Despite evidence to the contrary, they continue to wail and moan and that girls are discriminated against while boys are being groomed to rule the world. They refuse to admit that "boys are people too" and they refuse to acknowledge, let alone change their policies and mission statements, that boys are truly in danger.

Is it because this is, consciously or unconsciously, exactly what feminists have wanted all along? Not really a world in which men and women were equal but a world in which women dominate men? The irony is that this wish reflects exactly what liberal feminists claimed to have been fighting against all these years- the brutish male impulse to conquer.

So you fought the fight and won. You see your enemy is down and what do you do? Just keep pummeling him, right into the ground.

Just keep homeschooling your boys everyone!

Monday, June 13, 2005

Digital Photography Course Online for Homeschoolers

My husband is a professional photographer who wants to formally share his knowledge with homeschoolers. Around our town, for instance at family or homeschool functions, someone will ask Sam an innocent question about digital photography and the listener ends up really getting an earful. It seems his advice must be useful as people start pulling out their pens and little pieces of paper to jot things down.


Last night was such an occasion. My sister and my nephews came by for a cook-out. (Yes, it did rain briefly but no one cared too much about that.) Sam got very involved with a very animated discussion about wedding and digital photography with one of my nephews and before I knew it, he was whipping out his Fuji S2 and taking demo pictures of everyone.


I am thrilled (it is an answer to a prayer actually) that Sam says he is ready to begin teaching in an organized way so that he can share his knowledge with others. Both kids and parents around here have expressed an interest in having Sam teach digital photography. His question for you, dear homeschoolers reading this blog, is what do you or kids want to learn about the topic?


Here are some potential topics for an online course:

--Basics of photography-lighting, focusing, filling the frame, etc.

--Brief history of digital photography- understanding the myths (re: archival quality and more), how far we have come, how different than film, why learning only about film, darkrooms, etc. is like "learning only about making horseshoes after cars were invented"

--Hardware- a rundown of consumer, professional and prosumer cameras with pros and cons and tips on maintaining and using.

--Software-discussion of important software to help you get the most out of your digital photographs including the latest version of Photoshop (this will not be a Photoshop class, however, but entry-level tips and general overview will be given- would there be interest in an entry-level Photoshop online course?)

--Accessories-discussion of batteries, chargers, back-ups, memory cards, flashes, etc. to help you get the most from your camera

--Special topics- What is photojournalism?, Photojournalism for child photography, photojournalism for events, tips for photographing children, architectural photography (or taking great pictures of your home or investment properties)

--Home business- Careers in photography: industrial, wedding, child. Photography as a great home business (child, wedding, seniors), importance of intellectual property and passive income. Work as a Photoshop Professional from home- a growing business. Design websites and blogs for photographers. In-home photography. How to build a photography business and get clients.

--Resources-magazines, books, organizations, websites, blogs
These are just a few ideas that Sam quickly came up with for me.

We would appreciate your comments about what topics you or your children might want to cover about digital photography.

The first 10 comments on this blog to help us out will get the course online FREE when it is completed.

Thanks for your help!

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Tagged About Books

Q. Most books I've ever owned.
I have more books than I can count (literally). My husband estimates we have about 750 books. This is after selling many books at Half Price Books and donating some to the library. This is probably the most books I have ever owned.
Q. The last book I bought.
Dover Art Publications Fruit-Crate Label Art Prints and CD-Rom for graphic designs. Hint: sign up for their weekly newsletter and get free images for download.
Q. The last book I read.
Jesus by Leith Anderson ( for Mind and Media Reviews). Read an early review of this book here. Hint: Mind and Media is still looking for reviewers and you get free books out of the deal! Tell Stacy that I sent you!
Q. The five books that meant the most to me.

The Bible, especially Proverbs 31: 10-31
Being a God Chaser and a Kid Chaser by Tommy Tenney-read my review of this book here.
The Baby Book by William Sears, M.D.
There have been so many different ones at different points of my life that this is hard to pinpoint. The titles above have meant the most lately.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Call 911: I'm Locked Out and The Baby Is In the House!

This is a true story of events that happened in my nice, quiet (OK, in my dreams) home a few hours ago. Alyssa was sleeping and I went outside to use the cell phone to call my younger sister about our dinner plans for this evening. I did this to be quiet as Alyssa often sleeps very lightly in the afternoon. This was one of those days that I could tell she was sleeping very lightly yet I knew she needed her sleep.

My older sister came by and she was playing quietly with Chase inside. I went out and they followed me, first Chase and then my sister. Once they came out, I turned to go back in as we have not had a baby monitor hooked up for some time. Imagine the sinking feeling in my stomach as I went to open the door and the door was locked. I did not have my keys. I remembered that Sam, my husband,had mentioned to me that the door sometimes locked on its own and that I should always bring my keys with me when I go outside.

My older sister, mother of two college graduates, first told me to remain calm. Good thing she was there because calm would not have described any aspect of this experience for me! I first called the in-laws who do not live far and have a key but my MIL who has the key on her keyring was not home and does not have a cell phone. Sam was in the middle of photographing a black tie wedding at the Ritz Carlton and absolutely could not be interrupted. I was on my own with this one; me, my sister and Chase were going to have to figure out what to do.

After investigating the perimeter of the home and thinking about potential ways in, I realized I had left one window open. I stood on the patio table but I was not raised high enough to get into the window. Getting more worried, I went to one neighbor, explained the situation and asked for a ladder. They have already moved out partially and the ladder is at their new home.

I saw our wonderful neighbor, an original homeowner on our block, Mr. Chuck, who offered his ladder. I practically ran home with the thing after quick instructions on how to set it up were kindly given by Mr. Chuck. I threw the ladder against the house and I climbed up but I still could not reach the window enough to catapult myself inside. By now, Alyssa had woken up and she was crying.

I had enough! I called 911 and explained I was locked out of my home and my 18-month old was trapped inside alone, crying. They said that they would send someone right away. Was I dreaming or was this real, I kept asking myself. Deciding it was real, I broke out of my reverie long enough to break away to the front of the house to wait for help.

What I saw next confused me. A cop, a single cop, showed up in a cop car. "Where is the fire truck and where are the ladders!" I fumed to myself. Didn't I tell them I needed a ladder?

I hurriedly explained to Mr. Policeman that I had a ladder up but still could not get in. "Oh, no problem." he said ever so calmly. " I can climb in there easy." So he starts climbing the ladder, confidently and deliberately at a pace that to me seemed excruciatingly slow. Once up there, he opened the window fully and surveyed it. "Oh my goodness! Please don't tell me that he can not fit through the window!" I thought as panic started to build up inside me. Was Alyssa getting into something? Did she think I abandoned her?

After what was only probably seconds but seemed like hours, Mr. P. started taking off his belt. Yeah, that one, with the gun on it. I was willing to take the thing from him but I wondered if it would be safe for him to drop that gun down to me. No, apparently not, as he threw the gun inside the house and then dropped down the rest of the belt.

Mr. P climbed in the opening, squirmed and shimmied and he was in! "Meet me at the front door!" I yelled. By now, the desired fire truck and ladder were in the front of the house along with about 5 firemen and several curious onlookers. I barely noticed. I just wanted to get in to Alyssa!

My policeman superhero opened the door, I threw his belt at him and ran up the stairs. Poor Alyssa was sobbing so hard she could hardly catch her breath! And she felt so hot!

I picked her up and she clung to me more tightly than she has ever held on before.

I said a quick prayer of thanksgiving and went about the business of giving my vital stats to superhero Mr. P.

What an afternoon!

"Take it in stride", my older sister says. "This is just normal Mommy stuff. Weird things happen sometimes."

Okay, if she says so!

Nonetheless, I left Sam a message on his cell phone to ask him to please replace the offending door knob (the one that locks on its own) with another one ASAP.

What an afternoon but I thank God that everyone is OK. I did not fall off the ladder and Alyssa did not get into anything being in the house alone.

I felt so grateful everyone was OK. We did not go to my younger sister's house for dinner. We stayed home and started watching "The Sound of Music" instead.

One rousing chorus of "My Favorite Things" and I truly did feel better.

Thursday, June 9, 2005

Love of Learning

It seems what veteran homeschoolers say is true. Learning never has to stop, even in the summer.

We love summer around here. See my post here at the Christian Homeschool Mom blog community, for more.

But I notice that Chase is as interested in learning as ever. From wanting to know more about the skin and pores of the shark to learning about phytoplankton, he truly seems thirsty for new information. I don't know if I could stop him from learning if I wanted to do so!

I do find it interesting that there are those in our life who do not want Chase to learn too much. As if I am tying down and making him sit in a corner to learn all day! I do not like it when others make learning seem like a chore within earshot of my son. He is still at the age in which he thinks learning is fun.

I hope it stays that way.

Overall, have most of you found that the love of learning stays with homeschoolers even as they get older?

Wednesday, June 8, 2005

Bloggers Wanted

I am excited to announce the formation of a new community of homeschool bloggers. I have launched a blog community titled Christian Homeschool Mom Blogs using the services of 21 Publish.

Calling Christian homeschool moms: come to the site to blog about faith and spiritual development, family and education.

The site will be a way for like-minded moms to come together and share openly of our faith and provide help for those who are searching for more information. By coming together as a group, it is much easier for new homeschoolers and others to find us. Even veteran homeschoolers for whom the Christian faith is an integral part of their daily homeschooling will enjoy the fellowship on the site.

This idea has been in my heart for some time but just needed another little nudge from God to move forward. Little by little, pieces of the puzzle fell into place. Initially, I lamented to my husband that I would like to create such a community but I felt that my lack of expertise with web design would hold me back. Then I learned about 21 Publish. I liked the format of 21 Publish as their blogs are clean and very easy to set up with features that are fun and simple to use. I saved the 21 Publish URL on my computer after coming across the site weeks ago. Today is the day!

My previous post reported that my blogging is changing and I am blogging more on my Christian walk. Writing my thoughts about God and his role in my homeschool and in my life helps me to be a better Christian wife, mom and teacher and glorifies him. Through the Christian homeschool mom blog community, I hope to receive encouragement and also give it wherever I can.

Shortly after I blogged the above-mentioned post, God led me to a Christian blog portal at Life With Christ where I started a new blog recently. I was grateful to find such a community to join.

Add to that my knowledge of a new homeschool blog portal sponsored by a homeschooling magazine and my old idea of starting a community of Christian Homeschool moms started to take shape.

And Julie Leung of Seedlings and Sprouts has posted on the reasons why she likes Livejouurnal for blogging. Most comments, including Julie's, focused on the joy of belonging to a blogging community. The few negative comments centered on the sometimes caustic behavior of those in the community who disagreed with each other. But it is the idea of community that makes the Internet so useful.


An online community of moms who build their homeschools on the foundation of Christianity is an idea whose time has come.

In order for this idea to work of course, we need bloggers and the more the merrier! Tell all your friends!

Start your new blog today. Feel free to duplicate posts from your other blogs. The idea is to provide a series of linked blogs combining Christianity with homeschooling.

Please come on over to ChristianHomeschoolMom and start a blog. It is easy and fast. And like I said, you can cut and paste any entries from your other blogs.

Help to make this ministry a success!

May the fruit of this blog community glorify Jesus Christ and edify his church.

Homeschoolers Save the World?

Well maybe not the world but what about North America? Graeme Hunter blogged about a philosophical comparison of homeschooling to the monasticism of the early Middle Ages:
A large proportion of homeschoolers could be described as people who have given up paying attention to whatever is being shouted through the public bullhorn, and begun to cultivate their own practices and communities on a scale they can still understand and in a manner of which they approve. Their spontaneous reaction to their situation has a historical parallel memorably drawn by Alasdair MacIntyre at the end of After Virtue. Recalling the period in which the Roman Empire collapsed and the so-called "dark ages" began, he reminds us how:

"a crucial turning point occurred when men and women of good will turned aside from the task of shoring up the Roman imperium and ceased to identify the continuation of civility and moral community with the maintenance of that imperium. What they set themselves to achieve instead often not recognizing fully what they were doing was the construction of new forms of community within which the moral life could be sustained so that morality and civility might survive the coming ages of barbarism and darkness."

So began the monastic tradition of the early middle ages and the institution that saved civilization. It may be the privilege of homeschoolers to bear that bright torch in their own time. Our children have become healthy, well-adjusted and successful, in spite of all the efforts of public institutions to thwart them.


It is inspiring to think that we humble homeschoolers may be part of a force that may change modern history.

HT to Izzy for this one.

Church Picninc Photos

Check out these pictures of summer fun at my homeschool mom blog.

Can you tell how much I love summer?

Repetition for Learning: The Preschool Years

How much repetition is enough repetition I wonder? Chase is four and one-half. He knows his colors, numbers, alphabet and sounds, how to print his name, etc.

We had been working on these things in the past school year. I definitely want to take a break from formal learning this summer but I do not want Chase forgetting what he has learned.

When I try to get him to go over something he has already learned, he does not want to. "Mommy, I already know that!" he says.

What creative ways have you moms used to reinforce skills that seem more fun than repetitive? Is it even important at this age to have the repetition and reinforcement?

Thanks for your help.

Imagination of a Four-Year Old

Chase is so imaginative. He spends most of day in imaginative play of one sort or another. From stuffed animals acting out every day situations, to daring rescues with his trucks and trains, it seems the boy is almost constantly being creative. He finds new ways to use old toys, kitchen gadgets and even his sister's scrunchies!

I want some more of that creativity and imagination I told God yesterday. As I dusted off some old poems to submit as greeting card verse, I felt I was washing out a few cobwebs from the recesses of my brain to enhance and enlarge the poems.

So yesterday I realized how much I want to be more like Chase, more imaginative, using the creativity bequeathed to me and to all of us from Our Creator, The Ultimate Creator.

God gave us our wonderful minds and the ability to see things that do not yet exist and call them into being. Wow. I can imagine what words I want to write and the Lord helps me to put those words on paper, giving life to ideas or stories.

I just stopped to realize, God did not have to give us that ability. We could instead be bound by our senses, by what we can see and experience, but He chose to give us humans more. Why? Because He cared enough for us to make us in His image.

Sometimes, I just have to stop and say wow, God is really good and He is good all the time! What a powerful and mighty God we serve!

Sunday, June 5, 2005

Cursive for Preschoolers/Kindergarteners

Chase learned about cursive handwriting when he looked over my shoulder as I was typing up a letter that Grandpa had handwritten in cursive.

"What kind of writing is that Mommy?" Chase asked me. I explained that it was called cursive and he became very excited.

"I want to learn to write like that Mommy!"

I explained that he would learn cursive as soon as he was printing well, when he got older.

"But what if I want to learn cursive now Mommy?"

Well, I am homeschooling so my child gets individualized instruction. Was it really bad for him to learn cursive before manuscript? I know that the ABeka curriculum teaches cursive early their curriculum so I decided to start my research on this topic on their website.

I also found some information on other sites that were helpful.

My take-away points that seem true for Chase are that children can recognize and write cursive early in their education and that cursive does nearly eliminate problems with backwards letters (a problem that really bothers Chase).

Check out these links that I found on the topic:
ABeka
ERIC
BJU
PreCursive

Psychologist article
"Cursive First" author comments
A Montessori approach

Have many of you started with cursive? What are your thoughts?

Fruits of the Spirit for Parents

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law" (Gal. 5:22,23).

I hear God calling me to become a better wife, mother and Christian. In reading my daily Bible and prayer, I have been led to study the fruit of the Spirit. When I started researching books about the Fruit of the Spirit most of them were written for children or directed to help parents develop the fruit of the Spirit in their children. When I first read what the fruit of the Spirit was, I knew I wanted more of that in my life.
I felt confused by the emphasis on teaching fruit of the Spirit for children in the books I saw on CBD.com. Is it only children who are expected to know/abide by/strive for living in the fruits of the Spirit? Are we all, as adult parents, supposed to have attained these fruits in our lives and so now we are able to impart them to our children?

My life is very much a work-in-progress in this area. I want to not only teach my children didactically about the fruit of the Spirit but I would like to role model the character traits as well.

I am asking God to help me in this area.

Saturday, June 4, 2005

A New Faith Blog for Me

Come and visit my new blog focusing on my journey in the Christian faith at Mom4Christ, hosted at LifeWithChrist.org.

As you may have read in my previous post, I have been led by the Spirit to expand my personal, faith-filled writings. After all, my writing is a gift from God and I want to use my talent to glorify him.

As soon as I submitted to God that I would re-focus my efforts to make public more of my writing about my Christian faith, I came across a link on Molly's blog that led me to a great blog that was hosted on LifeWithChrist and right away, I knew that I was to start a Christian mom blog there.

This blogging community of Christian homeschool moms has been such a blessing to me! Thank you ladies!

So come by my new blog soon and consider starting your own blog over there as well.

Of course, I will continue to blog (homeschool stuff mostly) on this blog so don't stop coming here.

Phytoplankton?

"Hey mommy, do you know that phytoplankton is a tiny species in the ocean that sea animals can eat?"

What's that?, come again?, what did he say? were the thoughts that rambled through my mind as I was fixing up dinner and trying to listen to Chase at the same time.

"What did you say, sweetie?" I asked to clear up the confusion.

"Phytoplankton. Mommy, you never heard of phytoplankton?"

"Well of course I have but I did not know that you had. Where did you learn about phytoplankton?"

Chase went on to inform me that he learned about phytoplankton from "The Magic School Bus" videos that we get from the library. He went on to amaze me with his knowledge of sea life in general.

I knew that Chase has been interested in sharks, whales and the human body but I never though he was actually retaining the material from the books, videos and software we were getting out of the library.

Most of the materials were advanced for his age and I had learned my lesson about pushing too hard so I was content to let Chase learn about biology at his own pace.

Wow. This relaxed homeschooling really works!

Relaxed Homeschool

Ahh. Relaxed homeschooling. I love it, Chase loves it and I wish that I would have had the confidence in him and in myself to start this approach sooner.

My son is only four-years old but I had already starting pushing him to achieve certain goals that I felt were important. I must admit that some of those goals were based on what some of his friends were achieving. Learning to read and write early were particular goals of mine. I thought that since Chase is bright and inquisitive he can certainly write and read well by age four. Family members seconded this telling me "Everyone in our family could read by four". Although I would not admit it at the time, what others thought of me and my child and his learning ability and my teaching ability was important to me. These things were far too important to me.

So we started learning phonics soon after Chase turned four. He eagerly learned to recognize and order the alphabet and enjoyed remembering the letter sounds.

So what was next? Putting the sounds together to make words, of course. For whatever reason, that next step did not go as well for Chase. He would listen to the tapes or watch me sounding out words but within seconds after observing, he seemed to forget how to put the sounds together.

Finally, one day after me trying repeatedly to explain what sounding out was and my poor son in tears while trying to please me, I knew that I needed a paradigm shift in my apporach to homeschooling.

What had started out as my plan to homeschool for Christ's sake and for the sake of individualized instruction for my child seemed to have gone so wrong. If I was going to force my child to adhere to some schedule of learning that did not suit him why was I homeschooling at all?

I needed to relax, he needed to relax and relax we did.

And the true learning, for Chase and his mom, began in earnest.

Friday, June 3, 2005

I Won!

I won an iPod!

As you can tell from my last few posts, God has been sending quite a few opportunities my way lately. And that is a good thing because since I left my career as a physician to homeschool our children and establish a career as a freelance writer, we have had severe financial challenges.

I have been praying to God to just send me a sign that I am doing the right thing so that I do not give up.

He has more than granted my prayer request!

My husband notified me in February about a contest that he came across on the Internet about a DVR (a TIVO-like device that came with our cable service). This was when we were trying as a family to merely control our TV-viewing habits by recording select shows and watching them when it was convenient. At the time, we had completely done without any television for 2 years prior and thought that we would be OK with just a little cable particularly for my husband who watches news programming.

I wrote an essay about our family experiences with the DVR. We found that having the DVR stopped us from watching as much TV and did not make us feel tied to needing to watch shows at the time they were scheduled.

My essay won in the "Family" category! And we won an iPod!

Our whole family is thrilled about the iPod and excited to see what other blessings God has in store for us.

Chase led us in a prayer of thanksgiving for iPods this morning after the FEDEX man delivered it to us. Being the prayer warrior that he is, Chase's prayer quickly changed to one for healing for a birth-injured baby that we know who is around the same age as Alyssa. chase has been praying for her to crawl, walk and be completely healed. He prays with such faith- he is an inspiration for me.

It is so important to remember always what is truly important.

ChoosingHome Housewarming Party

Don't forget, it is not too late to check out the great, inspiring entries over at the Choosing Home site's housewarming party. Enter the party by clicking here.

While you are there, look around the site. It is full of useful resources for moms committed to staying home with their children.

The Myth of the Perfect Mother

I came across this article today from Home Life Magazine. It confirms some thoughts that I have about motherhood being a kind of a spiritual discipline designed to bring us closer to God. It is easy for me to become preoccupied trying to become more perfect in a worldly way and neglect my journey to becoming perfect in Christ. I just continue to pray that God will gently pull back to what is most important in my role as mother each and every time I begin to stray.

I thank God for his mercy and goodness.

More Summer Fun

I just love to watch the kids having such a ball, especially Chase. We have had a fun time the past few weeks with lots of great kid activities for Chase. He has been so excited just to have the chance to play outside in the sunshine! The winters seem so long around here. Even if it is cool in the morning, he insists on wearing shorts and a short-sleeved shirt because "It's summertime Mommy!"

Our church, New Song Church, had its church picnic on Memorial Day and we all had a great time. Sam's parents and one of my sisters joined us. I had a chance to catch up with some homeschool moms that I had not talked to and they were full of encouragement and good advice. Sam took a lot of terrific pictures and had fun chatting about digital photography with some of the guys. Chase ran so much and played so hard that it was difficult getting him to eat or go to the bathroom.

Alyssa was the little darling of the picnic and the little girls delighted in picking her up and hugging her and she of course enjoyed her favorite past time. She loves to get dirty playing in dirt or sand only to come to me and ask me to wipe her hands off. Such a funny girl!

These kids personalities are just blossoming daily and I love to see them unfold.

Blog Changes, Life Changes

I feel that God is calling me to make some changes in my blog. As much as I enjoy keeping up with homeschooling and family news, I feel I am being called to share more of my personal stories and more of my writing on my blog in the service of the Kingdom of God.

After my son was born, the Lord began to seriously work on me concerning the issue of developing my writing, a gift from him that I always resisted taking too seriously. Despite numerous awards for my writing, I chose to veer from a creative writing tract in college to study pre-med, promising God that one day, once I was financially secure, I would return to writing.

Following Chase's birth, the Lord opened up many writing opportunities that allowed me to grow in my craft and kept me from needing to return to full-time work outside of the house. Along with my public writings, God gifted me with volumes of praises and poems to glorify him and celebrate the gift of family, his blessing for me. I wrote and wrote and wrote some more, privately for the Lord and publicly for a variety of clients and publications.

Now, God tells me it is his turn. It is his turn to be featured in my writing spotlight, his turn to be magnified and glorified through my writing. It is time for me to share the wonders of all that God has done for me and my family with the world. My writing is to serve as a testimony to his wondrous deeds and majesty. I may not be able to sing but my praise and worship comes out of my pen (or keyboard).

What does all this have to do with homeschooling? Everything. I have had a growing realization of God's plan for the role of homeschooling in my life and the life of my family. First, as I have discussed in previous posts, my main reason for homeschooling is to glorify God and build his Kingdom. I continue to be awed as my son as growing into a God-fearing, God-worshipping little boy who shows a thirst and a hunger for all things of the Lord. I am homeschooling to provide little soldiers and keepers of God's Kingdom more than the other very legitimate and important social, political and academic reasons to homeschool. So I homeschool to dedicate my children to God, much as Hannah dedicated Samuel to God (I am grateful I have not been called to leave them at the temple yet!)

Even more importantly, I have come to realize that God has called me to homeschool to make me into the godly woman that he would have me become. Our family decision to homeschool has matured from an option to an absolute truth and from it I have learned some important lessons and been faced with very new challenges. These challenges have forced me to examine some very touchy subjects in my life. Obedience vs. disobedience, trust vs. control, submission vs. dominance and impatience vs. God's timing. What a revelation- God has not given up on me! He loves me so much and wants to use me (he actually feels I am worthy to be used, Hallelujah!) and he is using the homeschooling of my children to grow me and mature me into the Christian woman he knows I can become. So after 38 years of living, I am allowing myself to be pressed into service.

So this blog is changing. It is becoming more personal and hopefully more godly. It is my prayer that what I write here will have a positive impact on others as myself and most importantly that everything I write will directly glorify God.

Thank you for stopping by as I begin my journey anew.

Thursday, June 2, 2005

Poems: A View From The Womb

Womb
By Victoria Carrington

Water and warmth
Cushion and cocoon
Motion, music, my mommy’s voice
Safe and serene
Dreamy lull
Splashing gurgles
My first home


Imagine
By Victoria Carrington

Wisps of hair
Pink tender lips
Delicate fingers
Curled up tight
Warm and dark
Sounds of comfort
Soothing motions
Steady heartbeats
Cord of connection
Safe surround
My own place
What will I become?

A Poem Celebrating New Life

Small Miracle in Our Midst
By Victoria Carrington

God Almighty, You are deserving of all praise
We are in awe at this miracle of life
That you have placed in our lives
Everyday a new unfolding
A Divine Plan known so well to you
Only you know the full potential
Present in one so small

Wednesday, June 1, 2005

Poem: Conqueror

Conqueror
By Victoria Carrington

It seems so dark everywhere
Memories are suffocating
Wrapped around like a too-tight scarf
No one can know the depth of the darkness
Thoughts of ending it all to find peace
But the little voice says “No”
The evil that has hurt me would have won
This suffering is unique
Horrible but unique
Create from the broken pieces a new whole
If I go then who
Can offer comfort to another of having seen pain
This suffering must count for something
I will keep my hurt, my sorrow
Boulders that weigh me down now
In time become pebbles I can carry
Always present but easier to bear
Rough edges stab my consciousness at times
But new memories are made every day
And they start to crowd out the old
I get bigger and stronger and older everyday
I win.

Monday, May 30, 2005

Poem: A Mother's Prayer

A Mother’s Prayer
By Victoria Carrington

Lord, look after my babies
Hold them close to you
Fill them with your love and joy
Show them what’s right to do
Keep them safe from harm, Dear Lord
Protect them with all your might
Keep them on the narrow path
Keep them in your light
Especially when times are hard
Never let them give up hope
Let them know if they follow You
With any problem they can cope
Lord, thank You for these gifts
You have sent me from above
Let my babies always know
They have my unending love

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Rainbow Parties

As if I need another great blog site to read. But the Blogger News Network does have a lot of great stories. I submitted my first story there today, a previous post of mine titled, Urgent Talk to Your Teens About Sex.

This is in part a response to a post at the Narrow about a book about Rainbow Parties, a favorite sexual escapade of kids left alone without supervision for hours at a time (read-most kids in America). Brief overview of Rainbow Parties: They involve girls, lipsticks of varying colors, oral sex and a proud penis.

Michelle Malkin refers to the book, with it's brightly colored lipsticks innocently portrayed on the cover, as 'Educational' Smut.

Parents and others want to condemn the book (and rightfully so) but the more difficult task parents face is talking to their teens about abstinence and sexuality and supervising their teens more closely.

It is relatively easy to get emotional and start talking about boycotting bookstores or publishers. It is quite another thing to change your work schedule or curtail your evening activities to spend more time with your older children.

Believe me, when I worked as a psychiatrist and gave parents these simple suggestions to help them deal with behavioral or emotional issues with their teens, you would not believe the looks of disbelief that I would get.How dare I ask parents to change their lives to accommodate their children!

Anyway, enough of me on my soapbox.

Find out more for yourself if you are interested.

Abortion is Wrong: Even Children Know It

Chase, at age 4, already has commented on the sin of killing unborn babies. This issue came up as we were reading a book about sharks who cannibalize their unborn young.

Chase is fascinated by biology. He wants to know how everything works "on the inside" and I have been more than happy to indulge him in this unit study. Along with books from the library, I purchased a book from Sam's Club called "Uncover A Shark" by David George Gordon, a 3-D book with a model of a dissected shark inside in layers.

Apparently, unborn great white shark pups become cannibals and eat the unfertilized eggs in their mother's womb as they are waiting to be born. I tried to skip over reading this part but it did not work. Chase saw this and became very upset. "That baby shark is eating the mommy shark's eggs. That is not right, mommy! That is wrong! There could be a little baby shark inside that egg that will not be born if the other shark eats it! The one baby shark is killing another baby shark!"

"You are right Chase. Some things happen in life that are just plain wrong."

I did not know what else to say.

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

"Being a God Chaser and Kid Chaser"

How can I do it all? How can I pursue my spiritual growth, utilize my God-given gifts and raise my family in a way that is pleasing to God all at the same time? I pray about this quite a bit and have had counsel from some wise ladies about this issue. But still, I struggle.

I was recently blessed with a book called "How to Be a God Chaser and a Kid Chaser" by Tommy Tenney and Thetus Tenney. Read my review of this book at my Work-at-Home Mom Blog.

Any tips from other moms trying to do the balancing act?

Importance of Creativity

I forgot to mention in my previous post about Preschool Essentials the issue of creativity. I would add to my list encouraging creativity as an important part of early childhood education. I was considered a creative child. I liked to write and tell stories. Through years (many years) of formal, intense schooling, I "lost" my creative abilities. My husband loved to draw and was quite good at it as a kid but he too seemed to 'lose' some of his creative abilities. My husband and I decided very early on that no matter which type of curriculum or educational approach we used, we did not want Chase to lose the creative abilities he was born with. So far, God has blessed Chase with an incredible imagination and the ability to make up games, stories and even his own toys for hours on end.

Only recently have I come to fully appreciate God's desire for all of us to be creative. He is, after all, the Father of Creation and the Ultimate Creativity Guide. Who needs a muse when one has the Holy Spirit of the Creator of the Universe at our disposal? I have come to understand for my own life that to have creative abilities and choose not to use them is a sin.

After years of ignoring any creative urges and practicing delayed obedience to God ("I'll work on becoming a writer later"), I am now walking in God's will for my life and developing my creative abilities. "God, I finally accept the responsibilities you have for me and I will devote my life to the full expression of my gifts for your glory." has become my prayer.

May I also raise my children in such a way that they will always walk within God's will and fully utilize all of their creative gifts. I pray that Chase and Alyssa will never need to recover lost creativity.

Sunday, May 22, 2005

What Children Really Need During the Preschool Years

Essential Christian Preschool

Some things are crucial and need to be learned in the preschool years. Certain foundational aspects of character, family life and self-care development sets the stage for future growth and learning. Molding your child to fare well within the family unit and within society at large as well as nurturing a love of spiritual life and a love of learning are all that your preschooler really needs. Everything else can come later. Eventually, your child will learn how to write his name and count to 100. But if you wait to inspire a love of all that is truly important, you may wait until it is too late.

I have two sisters who are kindergarten teachers. Yes, they do get children who are sometimes unprepared for the rigors of today's kindergarten. But for the child who still needs help writing his name or counting, help is available. What is much more difficult and disruptive for them is the child who does not know how to put on or take off his own coat and boots and who can not get along with peers or who seems disinterested in learning. It is the child who does not seem to know how to have fun without a television or a video game, the child who has no sparkle in his eyes, that they find especially troubling and sad.

As I am finishing up the end of the official preschool years with my son, I have been reflecting on many studies as well as my own clinical experiences working with troubled children to formulate what I believe to be essential building blocks of the preschool years.

1. Love of learning. Nurture the curiosity of your child. Experiment as requested. “I don’t know what will happen if we mix the flour and the water. Let’s try it and see.” Answer questions patiently and as accurately as possible. Thank goodness for the Internet when you need to know ‘how does God make refrigerators’!
2. Love of family. Spend time with grandparents and other extended family. Model healthy family relationships. Teach responsibility within the family unit. Encourage observation of sibling’s growth and development. Encourage love and respect for all family members. Teach family history and genealogy. Pray for family members and others’ families.
3. Learning self-care and chores. Allow your child to take responsibility for certain chores. Spend time teaching and reinforcing how to brush teeth, button clothing, and choose clothing. Kids love to help out so make sorting laundry, putting away silverware and setting the table fun and learning. Teaching the child about and seeing that they receive proper nutrition, sleep, fresh air and exercise are also important.
4. Love of the Lord. Children are very in tune with the spiritual realm and have a natural curiosity about God. Feed the curiosity and fan the flames both by example and by providing ample opportunity for the child to learn about God and his creations. Make the Bible essential reading for the preschool years.
5. Peer relationships/conflict resolution. Relationships are filled with conflict and the preschool years are no exception. Conflict will be present throughout our lives but how will we teach our children to handle it? The myth that merely being around peers in groups of 10 or 15 for 8-12 hours a day will socialize children is entirely untrue and anyone who has studied child development knows that. However, well-chosen experiences with small numbers of peers under the watchful eye of a caring adult can help children to learn about relationships. If the playmate has a toy that my child wants, how will he choose to handle the matter? He may try several approaches, some appropriate some not, to get what he wants. Judicious adult guidance can serve to point out options and help the child understand what works and what does not. This is impossible to accomplish if one teacher is caring for ten children. Children are mostly socialized by watching and interacting with adults within their family units and peer relations will flow from these experiences.

Any other ideas from you moms who have perhaps gone through the preschool years several times already? Please leave your comments. I am still learning!

Home Worship

Growing up, I learned that worshiping God was a Sunday morning activity. Of course you loved God all the time and prayed regularly, but worship was strictly reserved for Sunday mornings in a church building. Anything less seemed disrespectful to the greatness and holiness of God! How could anyone even consider worship as a home activity? I was always suspect of religious services such as Catholic mass that were shown on television. It just did not seem right to invite Our Mighty Savior into our living room!

God has worked on me in the past few years to reveal to me the importance or worshiping him all the time, everywhere, as much as possible. No matter if I am cleaning toilets in a grubby t-shirt and jeans or raising my hands high in a glorious Sunday morning service at church, worship is what God wants most from me and all believers. I came to understand that where I am and what else may be occupying me do not matter. It is just worship that truly pleases the heart of God. And because it pleases him, it pleases me as I strive to be his good and faithful servant.

How does this daily, at-home worship translate in our everyday, busy family life? First, my husband and I together started with a goal. We knew that we wanted to fill our home with reverence and worship. The simple act of proclaiming our plan out loud and declaring it to the Lord and to ourselves was the best thing that we could have done. Because we know the tone we desire, it is relatively easy for us to eliminate anything in our home environment that interferes or just does not fit. Likewise, we can easily identify what we do want as we pursue God's face everyday as a family.

Next, we realized that we wanted all of our media in our home to reflect the fact that we are Christians who love the Lord. We wanted this as much for Chase's sake as for ours. We found ourselves uncomfortable with Christians who wear offensive t-shirts or watch filth on TV or at the movies. We wanted to strive to make all facets of our family life mesh with our beliefs in God and his Word.

We listed to uplifting, inspiring music throughout most of the day, we have inspirational prints and posters, we watch educational and fun Bible videos together as a family. Of course, we each have other areas of interest we pursue but all fall within our family guidelines for media usage. Sam likes talk radio, I like oldies from the 40's and 50's and Chase likes Bob the Builder and other children's videos.

Importantly, I have my own private worship time. Either late at night or early in the morning, I spend time praising God either through prayer, writing, music, movement or some combination thereof.

I recently read the book "Throne Room" by CeCe Winans, graciously given to me a homeschool mom friend, and that book has blessed me and my worship efforts very much! A little testimony about the book: I had been wanting this book for some time but just could not afford it. I even went to see CeCe at a local bookstore and considered getting the book for her to sign and it was not available. Imagine my surprise when my friend calls and says she would like to come by and drop off the book for me because she has an extra one! And just in time for Mother's Day! God is good, all the time and he is worthy to be worshiped.

Home worship is the most important part of our family's home-centered lifestyle.

Saturday, May 21, 2005

More School Needed?

Even as these education officials extol the virtues of getting education into kids as early as possible by expanding their preK programs, other topics of interest to this district include bad behavior on buses, labeling and disciplining special ed kids and the need for more security cameras.

And parents want their children sent into this madness even earlier?

I am becoming more aware of the push of education officials to remove children from their parents at even earlier ages to try to fix what is wrong with American education and what is wrong with American education.

Their scheme to get children into their system earlier will not work. As they try to distance parents from their young children, the same forces are claiming that are educational systems would be improved with greater parental involvement. And the trend of homeschooling is catching on across the country as even Ivy League schools recognize that children educated with intense involvement of parents is good for children's learning.

So if we look at what works in education, it seems to involve greater parental involvement, not increased involvement of educational institutions. Our schools are crumbling, children are acting out, teachers are disgruntled and employers are fed up.

But we trust the educational system to expand their role in our children's lives? I don't think so.

We Went to the Fair!

We call it the Orange Jubilee and we had a great time. I love to watch my little ones laughing, playing and enjoying life. Of course, they ate too much junk food and Alyssa got pretty tired out and over-excited but a good time was had by all. I ran into some old friends and was blessed by someone I did not know who gave us some free tickets for the rides.

It was a perfect sun-kissed day here in Northeast Ohio and I am glad to be alive. I thank God for my wonderful family and the wonderful blessings he has bestowed upon us.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Why We are Homeschooling

This post over at Spunky's really got me to thinking (in the way that only Spunky can get me thinking!) about our decision to homeschool.

Although I am a relatively new homeschooler, our family's reasons for homeschooling have already evolved over the 4 years of my son's life. We practiced attachment parenting long before we even knew what attachment parenting was. We were extremely relieved to find Christians who shared our beliefs about grace-filled parenting as both my husband and I held stereotypes of all Christian parents being only authoritarian and not very forgiving, loving or accepting of their own fallibility and none of those characteristics described our views of being good parents. In fact, I can say that Satan tried to keep us from deepening our Christian faith for that reason alone. We felt that we might be treated as outcasts because we read our Bible to understand that it is discipline, not necessarily corporal punishment, that is crucial in raising children who will learn to love the Lord even when Sam and I are no longer with them. Thankfully, we found other Christian parents who felt as we did and our parenting style did not keep us from fully pursuing growing in our Christian walk.

Against the backdrop of understanding that children are a sacred trust sent from our God who loves little children, we have become more and more convicted that homeschooling is God's will for our family. The fact that homeschooling would keep us close as a family and allow us to tailor our children's education to their learning styles are bonuses. Understanding that homeschooling is a lifestyle as much as it is an educational alternative, my husband and I have sought to create an home-centered lifestyle in which our family will make spending time together a priority as we battle the forces of Evil that seek to kill, steal and destroy all that would bring families closer together.

Our greatest problem in establishing the kind of family life that we dream of has been finances. Coming from a very high income situation in which our expenses matched our income (primarily due to high student loan debt), we as a family have struggled with ways to creatively make homeschooling work for family. Our most promising approach to this situation has been combine our homeschooling with home business. We have friends who have taken this approach and not only does their family business allow them to homeschool but it also serves as a vehicle for learning for their children. Sam and I are excited to explore the myriad of ways in which homeschooling will allow us to give our children real-world experiences to contribute to their education. Although we acknowledge that any venture may have its tough times, my husband and I are very excited to be embarking on the journey of homeschooling. We hope that if hard times come, we will focus on the benefits of homeschooling for our children, ourselves and for our family as a whole.

It is difficult to summarize years of prayer, research and conversations with my husband and observations of my son as I explain why we are homeschooling. In the final examination, God has called me to homeschool so I will homeschool to the best of my ability with his guidance and help.

Journey to Motherhood Part 4

My struggles to obey God in the matters of my vocation in life reminded me of the Biblical story of Sarah, Abraham's wife, and her efforts to produce an heir for her husband. God had promised to fulfill that desire of her heart. But could she just patiently wait for him to do so? Could she wait for God, he who had promised to be faithful? No. She had to take matters into her own hands and and have Abraham impregnate her maid instead. Her actions led to birth of Ishmael but Ishmael was not the heir that God intended. Sarah ended up with less than God's perfect plan for her life because she acted outside of God's timing. I was in danger of creating my own Ishmael as I waited for God to create a family for me.

I just praise God that before I stepped out and married the wrong man or even worse decided to have children out-of-wedlock, God stopped me long enough for me to put him in charge.

Approximately 1 month after my submission to God's will, I met my husband-to-be. Within one year we were married and within 2 years we had given birth to our first child, a son. I felt fulfilled beyond anything I could have imagined. I only get a slight twinge of regret when I think of how long I spent searching for something that was so easy to find with God's help. If only I had long ago let the Lord be my light and his word a lamp to my feet. Of course, I know that all things come together for good for those who love the Lord, even those things that the enemy may have meant for harm.

My regret never lasts long. Instead, I dedicate part of my life to sharing my story with younger women, many of whom have deep, hidden desires to "just" be a wife and mother but they feel too ashamed and confused to admit it. I validate their feelings and encourage them to seek the Lord as they plan their futures. I am thrilled when I see young women walking confidently into God's purposes for their lives.

Journey to Motherhood Part 3

This post continued from Journey to Motherhood Part 2 here. Read Journey to Motherhood Part 1 here.

I knew it was God's will for me to start a family. The very important missing piece, however, was a husband. I prayed and prayed for God to send me the "perfect husband". Nothing happened. I prayed some more for God to send me the man of my dreams, my knight in shining armor. Still no results. (well, no one appropriate anyway).

I became more assertive. I let everyone know that I was looking. I went on blind dates. I even tried the personals! With every date, I felt I was moving further and further away from finding a suitable marriage partner.

God seemed silent. "How could you set me up like this!" I cried out to God. He had flamed my fires of desire for starting a family and was encouraging me to become a wife and mother. How could he refuse to send me a husband? Disappointed and dejected, I finally did exactly what God had been waiting for me to do: I gave up and gave it to all to him. I fully surrendered all of my dreams of my idea of a perfect husband to him. I really completely gave up. I prayed "God, I have no idea what to do or where to go. Do what you will with me and my relationships. My worldly efforts have failed. You take over now."

God spoke into my heart that I had it all wrong. I had been focused on finding the husband who met all of my needs. I had completely ignored the fact that I was to provide something to my future husband as well. I had not even considered taking the time to be sure I was the woman that would make a ma a good wife. I was only focused on finding a good husband to supply my needs. God wanted to send me a husband and children not just for my happiness but for my spiritual growth in Christ.

My prayers changed. I prayed "Forget all the requirements I was looking for in a husband. I trust you Lord. You choose him and I will follow. Just give me the wisdom to recognize him when he comes and make me a good wife and mother. Send me a family that will challenge me to grow."

Journey to Motherhood Part 4

My struggles to obey God in the matters of my vocation in life reminded me of the Biblical story of Sarah, Abraham's wife, and her efforts to produce an heir for her husband. God had promised to fulfill that desire of her heart. But could she just patiently wait for him to do so? Could she wait for God, he who had promised to be faithful? No. She had to take matters into her own hands and and have Abraham impregnate her maid instead. Her actions led to birth of Ishmael but Ishmael was not the heir that God intended. Sarah ended up with less than God's perfect plan for her life because she acted outside of God's timing. I was in danger of creating my own Ishmael as I waited for God to create a family for me.

I just praise God that before I stepped out and married the wrong man or even worse decided to have children out-of-wedlock, God stopped me long enough for me to put him in charge.

Approximately 1 month after my submission to God's will, I met my husband-to-be. Within one year we were married and within 2 years we had given birth to our first child, a son. I felt fulfilled beyond anything I could have imagined. I only get a slight twinge of regret when I think of how long I spent searching for something that was so easy to find with God's help. If only I had long ago let the Lord be my light and his word a lamp to my feet. Of course, I know that all things come together for good for those who love the Lord, even those things that the enemy may have meant for harm.

My regret never lasts long. Instead, I dedicate part of my life to sharing my story with younger women, many of whom have deep, hidden desires to "just" be a wife and mother but they feel too ashamed and confused to admit it. I validate their feelings and encourage them to seek the Lord as they plan their futures. I am thrilled when I see young women walking confidently into God's purposes for their lives.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Creating a "Home-Centered Lifestyle"

When my son was born 4 years ago, I never imagined how important home would become to me and my husband. After years of experimenting with various ways of incorporating more home into our lives, our family has found a radical solution that works well for us. I call our answer a "Home-Centered Lifestyle" and it incorporates home education, home worship and home business. I certainly do not claim to have all the answers about exactly how to make this work with your family as we are still a work-in-progress. But we have found a certain peace with our way of doing things despite some remaining details to be worked out. I hope that those of you who are looking to expand the role of your home in your life find some inspiration. Here is our story.

After my son was born, my husband and I realized how much we wanted family to be the center of our lives. I had recently graduated from medical school and my husband was a photographer so we felt that our family choices were very limited. Regardless of how much I wanted to stay home and no matter that my husband fully supported my desires, we could not see a way to make that a reality given the educational debt that I had accrued. So I resigned myself to return to work full-time after some time home with my new baby. But the Holy Spirit kept tugging at me, challenging me and deepening my desire to stay home with my baby.

I decided to request to return to work part-time. My request was turned down and we decided that I would not return to my old job. What would we do? We decided that I would look for part-time work and Sam, who mostly worked on weekends, would stay at home and watch Chase. We tried several variations on this theme as I took a variety of temp jobs in my field. The pay was good and everything should have been fine only it was not. I felt such a strong desire to be at home that I could not enjoy my work. Leaving my son felt like torture despite the fact that I knew he was in the excellent care of his very loving father.

The problem was, we realized, that no one could replace me as Chase's primary caregiver. My professional mommy friends who worked outside of the home admitted this to me and basically told me to "get over it". "No one will ever parent like mommy so don't even bother to look for such a person." Was this what I had to accept for my life? I decided that I needed to try to accept this fate for me and my family. It was so hard for me! It was as if I had a mommy-shaped hole in my heart that could only be filled by claiming my mommy role as my primary one, not a role secondary to that of career woman. But I felt so hopeless. I did not know what to do. I started to wonder if God could feel my suffering or if he even cared.

What had I done wrong to deserve such torture? Was choosing such a demanding profession outside of God's will for my life? Was getting married and having a child all a big mistake? Did I misunderstand what it was God wanted for me? Were the years and tears and prayers that I spent discerning what God's will was for me in vain?

I had many more questions than answers. I was falling into a sea of self-pity and self-doubt and as much as I was questioning God, I knew that he was the only one who could move me out of my current situation. I got down on my knees and started to pray. "If leaving home is so hard, why don't you try working from home?" was the answer that I got immediately.

Of course, I could not believe what my heart was saying. There are no work-from-home jobs for psychiatrists, I thought. This must be another mistaken interpretation of mine, I worried. But then my mind went back to the time that I had taken off after the birth of my son. During that time, I remembered a promise that I had made to God long ago, the promise to use the writing gifts that he had given me to glorify him. I made this promise back in college when I was choosing between a creative writing concentration with an art history major and biology/pre-med. I chose pre-med because I was told that was so much more practical with my skills and experience. I did promise God though, that once I became established in medicine, I would get back to my writing.

I had forgotten about this promise until after my son. But once I remembered I began to write and write and write some more. It was almost as if floodgate had opened up and all the pent-up praise I had for God, renewed after my experience of awe at being given the gift of new life through my baby. I had not written seriously since medical school when I belonged to a creative writing group. Was God calling me to pursue writing as a career? It made sense in light of the urging that I felt to stay home as a writing career could certainly be launched from home. I definitely felt there was much for me to write about. With my husband's blessing, I embarked on a career in freelance writing.

Thus the home business portion of our "plan" was hatched. I use the word "plan" with some hesitation because not much planning was involved. Some things fell into place and we as a family changed course. The addition of home worship and home education would enrich our family life in ways we could not yet imagine. More about those in upcoming installments in this series.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Book Reviewers Wanted for "Thinking Toolbox"

The book "Thinking Toolbox" is about logic and reason is targeted to homeschool families among other groups. Mind and Media is offering more copies of the book to review- even to lower-traffic blogs. Here is an e-mail Stacy of Mind and Media sent me about the book:

Hi Friends,

This is it, and I'm so excited to tell you that this book is of high interest to you. I'm giving the final total to the author tomorrow. So if you want a copy of The Thinking Toolbox, this is just a gentle reminder to let me know.

Send your url and address, and like I said yesterday, lower traffic is okay for this book.

See the description on www.blogforbooks.com

Thanks!

Stacy


If interested, check it out today! See my previous post about book reviewing here.

Jesus by Leith Anderson

I am reviewing the book "Jesus" by Leith Anderson for Mind and Media (see my previous post here to find out more and even sign up to be a reviewer yourself).

What a terrific experience so far! I am only at the "Wedding at Cana" but already I feel that the book has enhanced my knowledge of the Bible in general and of Jesus' life specifically.

The book details the life of Jesus by combining all four Gospels into one very compelling story. I also particularly like the sidebars that detail historical information relevant to the times of Jesus' life. For example, the author gives a detailed comparison of Pharisees versus Sadducees.

I was watching a video of the birth of Christ with Chase yesterday and that was when I realized how "Jesus" really enhanced my experience of the Gospels. As the video showed Mary riding the donkey as she and Joseph approached the inn, I could feel her fatigue, a 9-month pregnant woman, so far from home, afraid, wondering if her baby will be OK without any of her kinswomen to help her deliver her baby. This was her first pregnancy after all!

Many of us remember that nesting instinct we had in the last weeks or days of our pregnancies. In fact, traditional clinical descriptions of OB doctors call the due date the EDC or the Estimated Date of Confinement. This confinement was not meant to be some cruel act of bondage for pregnant women (despite what the feminists might have you believe!) but was meant to give a woman rest and the presence of mind to face the impending birth.

Imagine, if instead of decorating your nursery, you were traveling on dusty, dangerous trails without so much as a comfortable place to use the restroom! Remember how often you have to 'go' at the end?

I never had such a view of what Mary had to go through to give birth to our Savior.

Speaking of OUR SAVIOR, check out Mrs. Happy Houswife's blog for a great visual.