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Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Huxleyan Warning: Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapter 11

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Part II, Chapter 11 The Huxleyan Warning

I have begun to read 1984 and also picked up Darkness at Noon as recommended by Postman in this last chapter to "have a fairly precise blueprint of the machinery of thought-control as it currently operates in scores of countries and on millions of people" (p. 155)". He also recommends Animal Farm, which I have already read.

It is Huxley, however that is the more correct with his prophecy: "in the age of advanced technology, spiritual devastation is more likely to come from an enemy with a smiling face than from one whose countenance exudes suspicion and hate" (p. 155). Postman directs this mostly to America, perhaps because that is where he lives and sees it taking place most, but I dare say it is world wide. Postman thought that most should have been aware of what was going on but he does point out most have been trained to see when an Orwellian world is threatening, not a Huxleyan world. We would put up quite a fight if Orwell's world were to materialize. On the opposite end, "who is prepared to take arms against a sea of amusements? To whom do we complain, and when, and in what tone of voice, when serious discourse dissolves into giggles? What is the antidote to a culture's being drained by laughter?" (p. 156)

By now we should have realized that technology is an ideology and it has the power to change cultures. 
"To be unaware that a technology comes equipped with a program for social change, to maintain that technology is neutral, to make the assumption that technology is always a friend to culture is, at this late hour, stupidity plain and simple...Introduce speed-of-light transmission of images and you make a cultural revolution. Without a vote. Without polemics. Without guerrilla resistance...All that is required to make it stick is a population that devoutly believes in the inevitability of progress...We believe nothing if not that history is moving us toward some preordained paradise and that technology is the force behind that movement." (p. 157, 158, emphasis mine)
So what can be done? There are two options as Postman sees it, and one is really not an option at all. The television {electronics} is not going anywhere; we must first realize that. That is the first option that isn't really an option. Turn off the television. No one will turn off the television {electronics} completely and for good. No one. I mean that to include even the Amish, some of who refuse modern conveniences like electricity; many have cell phones and internet, if not television. {Okay, fine perhaps there are people who have gone completely off-grid...}

Back in 1984 there were attempts at having "TV Turnoff" events. There are likely to have been similar ones more recently. {Indeed there are: Screen-Free Week (this year it is May 5-11); International TV-Turnoff Week (2006, I think)} I found the The New York Times article Postman quotes from: THE REGION; Town Is Planning 2d 'TV Turnoff'. It is interesting to note that the librarian who proposed the activity is not quoted by Postman. What she said was, "We're not really hoping for a media event this time, although that helped in some ways the last time. We're aiming at educating parents to realize why they should turn it off or cut down or be selective in what they and their children watch." The irony is evident much more by Postman's quote of Ms. Ellen Babcock. I got a chuckle out of the last sentence in the paragraph because here I am discussing this book against not just television but all that has come after it on the very media that it is against-
"It is an irony I have confronted many times in being told that I must appear on television to promote a book that warns people against television. Such are the contradictions of a television-based culture." (p. 159)
Really turning off the television {giving up the electronics} is not a viable option because people will not do it. Not even I. We don't have television in the sense that we can watch it, except with DVDs. My phone I don't think has internet capability. I've never tried nor looked to see if it does. It doesn't even have a camera, and I cannot receive images or photos. But even so, I won't give up my electronics. So this isn't really an option.

Postman is also quite pessimistic about changing the quality of television programs as an option. Instead he says that we have to change how we watch because we will watch. There are some questions that need to be asked about this thing called television.
"We have apparently advanced to the point where we have grasped the idea that a change in the forms, volume, speed and context of information means something, but we have not got any further...Does television, for example, give a new meaning to "piety," to "patriotism," to "privacy"? Does television give new meaning to "judgment" or to "understanding"? (p. 160)
And there are many more questions to ask {he lists at least a dozen other than the ones I quoted} before we can really see the television for what it is. "To ask is to break the spell," he says. The only part that Postman misses the mark is like I mentioned in last chapter's post: he failed to predict the impact of the computer. It has taken up where television left off and, even more so, is plunging us into a Huxleyan world.

Ultimately, education is the only possible solution to this problem. But his "hope" is not going to be realized by the public schools. It might be through private schools {but only a few I would dare say} or homeschools because as he says, 
"it is an acknowledged task of the schools to assist the young in learning how to interpret the symbols of their culture. That this task should now require that they learn how to distance themselves from their forms of information is not so bizarre an enterprise that we cannot hope for its inclusion in the curriculum; even hope that it will be placed at the center of education." (p. 163, emphasis mine)
It can't happen in the schools because the drive to keep and get more of the gizmos and technology that makes it super easy to have so much information is in those schools. Schools are not helping students learn to distance themselves. They cannot. What a major upheaval it would be to take away all of the electronic junk that feeds in "information" to the schools! They don't know that they are not thinking. They have all the information at their fingertips and don't realize that without them they would have to think.

And that is how the book ends. The only hope is to make people question technology and actually think about it. I say technology where Postman said television because as he himself stated "technology comes equipped with a program for social change," it isn't neutral by any means and it isn't always 'friendly'. And technology is many different things. Today it is television AND electronic gizmos, internet, i-things, smartphones, and etc. 

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Book Review: Critical Condition {LitFuse Blog Tour & Giveaway}

Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. 

ISBN: 9781401687403

Paperback, 328 pages

Publisher: Thomas Nelson

Retail: $15.99

About the book (from the back cover):
It was supposed to be a quiet dinner party with her colleagues -not the scene of a murder.

But the murder of a stranger on her front lawn is only the first in a string of events that have Dr. Shannon Frasier's life teetering on the edge of chaos. She's unable to make the deeper commitment her boyfriend deserves. Her sister shows up at her home needing a place to stay but with no promise she'll remain sober. And her father is diagnosed with cancer.

Then Shannon's life stops teetering and plunges into the abyss. Because the person behind the guttural voice on the phone wants to know what the stranger said before he died. And he won't stop until Shannon gives him the information he wants -even if she doesn't have it. 

He's coming for her. She's not sure the police on the case can be trusted. And her only hope of escape -for herself and for those she loves -is to overcome her buried past. 

About the author: 

A retired physician, Dr. Richard Mabry is the author of four critically acclaimed novels of medical suspense. His previous works have been finalists for the Carol Award and Romantic Times Reader's Choice Award, and have won the Selah Award. He is a past Vice-President of American Christian Fiction Writers and a member of the International Thriller Writers. He and his wife live in North Texas.

Connect with Richard at: http://rmabry.com

My thoughts:
I've read one other Mabry book and I rather enjoyed it. I like his inclusion of emotions, drama, suspense, mystery, and very subtle "romance". He doesn't go overboard on the violence either, even though the reader understands it is there. It is definitely a book that will take you away from the here-and-now for awhile, without letting you get too far away from reality. 

This book was very good for a day's read. There were plot twist that were enjoyable and not impossible. The main character as a preacher's daughter was a nice touch although from the character description, there wouldn't really have been anything, in my mind, to distinguish her from a character who wasn't a preacher's daughter. I thought that was interesting. In the back of the book is a reading group guide and one of the first questions is about PKs {preacher's kid}.

There are other aspects of the book I liked, such as almost all of the main characters had strong beliefs and stood their ground at various points in the story. The inclusion of faith in the book is simple, not over done. I could really imagine some of the scenes actually taking place. 

It was a good book that I'd recommend to others in search of a quick read with an interesting story line and good characters.

***Disclaimer: I received the above book for free from LitFuse for the purpose of an honest review. No compensation was given. All opinions stated are my own. See Disclosure/Policies.***

Richard Mabry's latest medical suspense, Critical Condition, is receiving high praise. USA TODAY says, "Mabry combines his medical expertise with a story that will keep you on the edge of your seat."

Richard is celebrating the release with a Kindle HDX giveaway!

One grand prize winner will receive:
  • A Kindle Fire HDX
  • Critical Condition by Richard Mabry
Enter today by clicking one of the icons below. But hurry, the giveaway ends on May 11th. Winner will be announced May 13th on Richard's blog.

Don't miss a moment of the fun; enter today and be sure to stop by Richard's blog on May 13th to see if you won.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Common Core- Making Everyone ... Common?

I have followed only superficially the topic of Common Core (CC) because foolishly I felt that it only pertained to public schools and to those going through the elementary grades. I know, I know. Ridiculous

Today I went to Pearls Homeschool Support Group -and I am going to say right now that I wish that it was at least twice a month and not just once- to listen to Sarah Fowler, District 7 Ohio State Board of Education representative {not my district apparently} talk about CC. I'm going to request her presentation to share because I thought it well put together. 

In the meantime here are a few suggested articles and links she gave:

And although she didn't specifically recommend this link, I saw it when browsing at Pioneer Institute: What Reporters Think They Know about Common Core  I'm recommending it here because this is important to what is being 'fed' to people. Television and newspapers are big when it comes to 'knowing' what's going on. If we listen to just the reporters, we're going to be missing a lot of the picture. And boy will we be in for a surprise when we see what it is really. 

Common Core is not truly about being a more rigorous curriculum nor about making students think harder. It is about molding them into a particular kind of person. One thing Ms. Fowler pointed out was the benchmarks for CC are supposed to be internationally aligned when in fact they are up to 3 years behind the best. Ah, and I must add this in, because while I do not enjoy proofs in geometry they are fundamental: apparently the core aligned geometry is without proofs. How does that work? 

Another red flag that should have been evident at the start is that there are no research references in CC. Where there would be a footnote with a relevant study pertaining to a practice to be implemented, there is none. Or if I've misunderstood that it at least is not presented in the correct and current format that are expected. 

Right now the state of Ohio has said that they are only implementing CC for math and English but CC is in the process of writing new curricula for social studies. What's to stop them from messing with science and history?

And let's not get started on the database that they (CC) want to implement with 435 different identifiable "points"...

Common Core affects public schools -students, teachers, parents, employers- but it also affects private schools. Ohio, if I understood correctly, is one of the only states {or is it the only?} that goes through the Department of Education to issue high school diplomas to private secular schools. That means that whatever standards are adopted for assessments {end of year testing, necessary to graduate} are going to be required in those schools. In order to align to the assessments, the curriculum will have to change. Colleges are going to be using these assessments to admit students. The SAT was changed and I believe the ACT is or will be. And while I was naive about the effect on homeschoolers, it is evident to me now that those assessments will be paramount to homeschoolers being admitted to colleges. Many homeschoolers do not adhere to public school curriculum; one of the beauties of homeschooling. At what point will the government decide that homeschoolers must align their curriculum as well?

{This part I'm paraphrasing big time and totally going off of memory- she said that she'd found three distinct points that it violated and unfortunately, I can't really recall the specifics.Ms. Fowler also mentioned that really CC is in violation of the constitution which states that the states are free to choose their own curriculum, and the local school districts are free to choose. Apparently there are many who do not know this, or are afraid to go against what is in place. As she said, what teacher knowing their very job is tied to assessments will not use a prepackaged curriculum to fit with those assessments? Another thing is that under the wording of CC, while the school districts may 'change' the curriculum, it specifically states that it means the school may only add to the curriculum, and only in the proportion of 15%. That means that the schools are 85% controlled by the federal government. That is completely against the constitution!

I think I should end here because I do not know more about CC than what I learned today. I have seen the many math sheets floating around facebook, and while I find them to be frustratingly complicated, I cannot say that they are evil. I have also seen the approved reading lists for all grades and while there are many titles that I would not read myself because of the content, I can't say that the whole program should be tossed because of that. No, it is much more than those things. There is something wrong when a big business pays the government to implement a program that is not only faulty, not backed by any research, but not even legal in our country. 

There are many who feel CC will brainwash the students. If by that they mean it will shove everyone into a mold where everyone is the same, I agree. Much of CC, from my understanding is not concerned with the right answers but how much effort is put in. But if that is how we are to be 'graded', on a curve, compared to everyone else's effort, isn't it just trying to make everyone equal and common? There would be no extraordinary

Here is one last link that I just came across {via Pioneer Institute I believe}: Common Core Razes Charter School Standards

Menu Planning Monday -04.21.14

So last week we switched some things around and had bbq on Friday instead of our traditional pizza. Here's this week's menu- always subject to change *wink* DH insisted on "no fish!" I say tuna fish doesn't count...

04.21 Monday
B- Bagels with cream cheese and orange juice {leftovers from Easter brunch at the church on 04/20} not on plan...at all
L- Tortilla wraps {S/CO} depends on how they are made; mine and dd's will be {S}
D- Chicken Alfredo with veggies {S} this is one that got switched last week and never got made; I think I mislabeled it as {E} last week...ooopsie. Definitely {S}.

04.22 Tuesday
B- Eggs {S}
L- Tuna sandwiches {CO/S} it's {S} when using either the coconut flour flatbread or the low-carb tortilla
D- Hamburgers and baked beans {CO} if I used lean beef I might get this to {E} but marking it {CO} for now

04.23 Wednesday
B- Cereal {CO}/Oatmeal with cottage cheese and berries {E}
L- Quesadillas {S/CO}
D- Sweet potato with sausage (crockpot) I'm not sure if I could make this an {E} or if it will be a {CO}

04.24 Thursday
B- THM Pancakes {E}
L- Brown rice Tabouleh {S/CO?}
D- Porkloin (crockpot) with Brussels sprouts {S}

04.25 Friday
B- Cereal {CO}/Muffin in a mug {S}/Oatmeal with cottage cheese and berries {E}
L- Egg sandwich {CO} mine will be {S} using coconut flour flatbread
D- Pizza! {CO} this will most likely change during the summer time since it'll be too hot 

04.26 Saturday
B- Muffin in a mug {S}/Eggs {S}/Oatmeal {E}
L- Salad with cheese {S}
D- Soft tacos {S/CO}

04.27 Sunday 
B- Eggs {S}
L- Meat and cheese sandwich/wrap {CO/S}
D- Chicken with veggies {E} I'll use chicken breast

As I make these menus I notice how many {S}, {E}, and {CO} there are and am very thankful that with THM's principles each meal is a reset. I think though that I need to try for more {E} meals. Next week. I'll think about that next week. 

Teaching as an Amusing Activity: Amusing Ourselves to Death, Chapter 10

Part II, Chapter 10, Teaching as an Amusing Activity

While Postman does indeed have the right idea in this chapter, I think he really missed out on how much of an impact the computer would eventually have. Either way, the fact that television, and now computers and like technology, isn't really intended to help education but rather education is to help entertainment is evident. 

Postman begins with "Sesame Street". It was a bad idea from the start. It wasn't really to help educate children; it was to help children love television more. Because using television -and I think I will switch this here to stay modern technology because television itself is, imho, just about done for; it isn't what it was in Postman's time, that's for sure! -in the guise of education is a lie. It goes against traditional learning. Oh, and sure there are those who say that traditional learning is wrong and that there are better ways. Baloney. Anyway modern technology goes against book-learning and the traditional classroom. 
We face the rapid dissolution of the assumptions of an education organized around the slow-moving printed word, and the equally rapid emergence of a new education based on the speed-of-light electronic image...I mean only to say that, like the alphabet or the printing press, television has by its power to control the time, attention and cognitive habits of our youth gained the power to control their education. p. 145
There are three commandments for television:
Thou shalt have no prerequisites- this one is interesting; a show should not have to explain what it means or what went on in the last show to help understand this show. There are plenty of television shows now that do require a little backstory and even in Postman's time, with shows like "Dallas". But for the most part, each show is independent and requires no existing knowledge of what the show is about. "Television is a nongraded curriculum and excludes no viewer for any reason, at any time. In other words, in doing away with the idea of sequence and continuity in education, television undermines the idea that sequence and continuity have anything to do with thought itself" (p. 147).

Thou shalt induce no perplexity- A perplexed learner is one that will turn the channel! Thinking about this, I reflect on shows that we watch in our home. Some require mindlessness, really. Specifically I'm thinking of the television shows that our kids watch like "Teen Titans", "Pokemon" and such. They require nothing but mindless viewing. Then I think of other shows we watch such as "Jeremy Clarkson War Stories" that give plenty to chew on and think about. But unless you stop the show, you can't really take the time to digest what you've just heard and seen. There's good, and there's bad...

Thou shalt avoid exposition like the ten plagues visited upon Egypt- "Television-teaching always takes the form of story-telling, conducted through dynamic images and supported by music" (p. 148). It's hard to argue this; television and modern technology are image and sound driven.
The name we may properly give to an education without prerequisites, perplexity and exposition is entertainment. p. 148
Postman relates a project called "The Voyage of the Mimi," which consists of a television series of twenty-six shows following a whale-research laboratory. There were books printed and computer games made for the project. According to Frank Withrow of the Department of Education it was to be a "flagship of what we are doing. It is a model that others will begin to follow" (p. 150). One of the biggest flags here is that the television series is the primary focus and books are now the "visual aid". 

There are plenty of proponents for modern technology to take the place of book-learning and reading of the printed word {and just a side-note: perhaps the reason so many have a learning disability when it comes to reading is because it is a secondary feature in education now; cognitive habits have been changed with the television and modern technology as the curriculum, as Postman said in the start of this chapter} but really they cannot say with definitive truth that technology is better for learning. In fact, Postman lists a lot of researchers who have found the opposite to be true {pages 151 & 152}. "In other words, so far as many reputable studies are concerned, television viewing does not significantly increase learning, is inferior to and less likely than print to cultivate higher-order, inferential thinking" (p. 152).

Postman ends with the assertion that television is educational. 
Just as reading a book -any kind of book- promotes a particular orientation toward learning, watching a television show does the same (p. 144)...Mainly they will have learned that learning is a form of entertainment or, more precisely, that anything worth learning can take the form of entertainment, and ought to. And they will not rebel if their English teacher asks them to learn the eight parts of speech through the medium of rock music...Indeed they will expect it and thus will be well prepared to receive their politics, their religion, their news and their commerce in the same delightful way. p. 154
Continuing with my studies to be an "official" teacher {going through all the college classes} I've been so surprised and shocked that there is such a push to use modern technology in place of books in education. They say that kids "can't learn" without these; they say that it "enhances the experience"; they say that it "makes it enjoyable." What happened to learning for the sake of learning and not for the sake of entertainment? 

The last chapter of Amusing Ourselves to Death is titled "The Huxleyan Warning." That will be the last post in this series.  

Friday, April 18, 2014

Weekly Wrap-Up, 04.18.14, The One With Snow...?

It has become evident that if a post isn't begun early in the week, there will be no weekly wrap-up. Not that it would be terrible if there wasn't, -and there often isn't- it's fun to put one together and read over the week. 

Our weekly menu is in this menu planning Monday post

Sunday- Morning church, me doing dishes, kids and hubby cleaning vehicles, all of us going on a bike ride -and attempting to jump our bikes {only hubby can get all four wheels off the ground...every time! yeah, he is all sorts of amazing *smile*}, evening church.

At morning church, pastor talked about how God can use anyone and anything for His purpose. He can use someone with absolutely no talent, and work miraculously. Pastor had these main points {wait, I have to find my notebook...ah, found it!}: 
  • God can use you beyond your capabilities {1 Cor. 1:26-29}
  • God can use what we see as insignificant 
  • God can use your testimony
  • God can use you when you are willing
That last point he also added that God will only use you when you are willing because it is a decision we make to do things for God. But I do wonder, is that just in reference to doing things for God consciously? There are many instances where the person was unwilling and God worked through them anyway. I had thought first of Jonah but ultimately, he was willing to go to Nineveh. Then I thought of rulers who've turned against God but are still 'used' for God's purposes. Of course, I cannot think of a single name... But all those in power are put in place, or allowed to be there, by God. To say otherwise is to say that God is not a part of this world; He doesn't interact. Of course, He can interact in anyway He sees fit and we might see it as not interacting. Now I'm going off on a tangent perhaps.

Sunday was a very nice day.

Monday- Lee got to babysit for many hours. The family she sits for are back from their winter vacation. We had to drive to Mentor in the morning and then Fox and I came home. He and I first stopped at KMart to find a belt for dh and I. Found two at reasonable prices; real leather, too. Later we went grocery shopping. The weekly shopping has been about $100 for the past 4-6 weeks but I made sure I kept it down this week. I think it was around $60. I had 'set' $40...missed that mark! 

School was not happening as we didn't even get home until 5:30 pm. 

I got a book for review from Bethany House Publishers. The book is Out of the Depths. It is "an unforgettable WWII story of survival, courage, and the sinking of the USS Indianapolis." I'm really looking forward to reading it but, uh, I have too many other books in front of it! Other books in my review pile:
  • Critical Condition by Richard L. Mabry, M.D. {finished it! review will be live on 4/26/14}
  • Heaven & Hell by Christopher D. Hudson
  • Shadowhand by Anne Elisabeth Stengl
  • Lit! by Tony Reinke
It seems like there should be more on that list. Or I'm just thinking of all the "to-be-read" books I have either started or planning to start that are not review books. 

Tuesday- SNOW! At 2 pm there is white all over the ground and still flurries. Sigh. I haven't checked in the greenhouse yet to see how things fared because I don't want to open the door and let in any more cold than necessary. We'd watered  yesterday so no worry it needs water. Mostly I'm concerned that it got cold enough to damage the seedlings. They can be restarted if need be. 

I've been at the computer quite a bit this afternoon {Can you believe it: I had to wait my turn!?} and there are some good posts I'm reading. I'll share just a few; there's so many. Different topics.
And now, I have laundry to get done. 

Wednesday- Snow melted; by the day's end it was gone. Some of the seedlings were damaged but not too many. I covered them with a blanket after evening prayer meeting to attempt to keep them warmer. I don't think it quite got as cold as the night before. Better safe than sorry, eh? 

The day was pretty good. The basics were done for school. This week it seems is mostly a "get caught up" week. Or something like that. We did some errands, bought a few things {ziplock bags, a puzzle, garden soil}, and then went to evening church. I really enjoyed the short time before prayer where Pastor talked about Philippians 1:9-11. I wrote about my thoughts in the Weekly Barden that's coming out Friday, but also put it in a post. {And after I put it in the WB and posted it, I got to thinking perhaps I have the meaning wrong- if you read it in either place, please comment with your thoughts.}

Fox was to have Young Marines so I drove him there. He and another Young Marine are in "training" of sorts, in line to be promoted, and so they go a bit earlier than the rest of the platoon. Unfortunately, the location they meet in was going to be locked-down for a weapons inspection so Young Marines had to be cancelled, last minute. It is held at an armory. We got a pizza and some salad out of it though.

Lee trimmed my hair. It was a long needed task but I so dislike cutting my hair. It was longer than the middle of my back; now it is about at my shoulder blades. It was needed. I just keep telling myself that. And she did a really great job; it's straight and even. 

Thursday- Sunshine, glorious sunshine! I've not gone outside {yet} but Lee said it is nice but for the wind. We plan on going on a long drive today so that Lee can get more time. She was able to get 10 more minutes of night driving to prayer meeting; 20 minutes all together toward her total time. Up to 44 hours now. She is going to be doing a street survival course {did I tell this already?} later this month and she must have her 50 hours requirement met. 

Edited later: I did indeed go outside and it's wonderful! The kids rode their bikes to the library to pick up some books. 

Friday- Just like any other day. The kids have to finish their Ohio Study project {which includes a paper, Power Point presentation, and giving the presentation} but otherwise, I'm letting them relax mostly. As long as they get their chores done {the dishes!!} I think it will be alright. We also have tea-time today with much anticipated fudgy brownies thanks to Fox. I think Lee has a movie for Friday movie {she'll have to watch it alone as Fox is banned from screens for a while and I just don't like to watch movies unless I have to} and she wants to buy some of those sandwich cookies from the Dollar Tree. 

Tomorrow I think Lee is wanting to go on church visitation {that's going door-to-door and knocking on the doors- which I find to be a little "funny" because those who are not Jehovah's Witnesses or Mormons really dislike when those people do it to them- we have a no soliciting sign on our house...anyway} and Fox has community service at the homeless shelter in downtown Cleveland with the Young Marines. I get to do dishes and hopefully I'll be motivated enough to do some cleaning. My house is a mess. Someone should come visit so that I'll have to clean *wink* {Uh, make sure you call first!}

And that's about all for this week. I'm going to wrap this up now although it's still very early in the day. Otherwise it won't go out until tomorrow evening. If anything exciting happens, I'm sure I'll update the post lol. 

Oh I do have something else to share: our greenhouse construction time-lapse. It took all of 2 minutes! The time-lapse that is *wink*

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Just Some Other Thoughts

This is in the "Other Thoughts" section of the upcoming Weekly Barden.

After we went to prayer meeting Wednesday night, I changed the focus of my thoughts here. Pastor talked on Philippians 1:9-11. The portion that was really impacting to me was verse 10: 
“That ye may approve things that are excellent, that ye may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ.” (KJV; emphasis mine)
There wasn’t really anything wrong with what I’d wrote before but I could not call it excellent. (I possibly still can’t.) And of course, being human and imperfect, my writing will never be truly excellent. I don’t plan to stop writing just because it doesn’t meet that standard, but there is always room for improvement. 

The thing that really got me was this little train of thought: God doesn’t need to prove why something is wrong; we need to prove how or why it is excellent. If we cannot, then it is not good enough. Does that make sense? 

What does excellent mean in verse 10? In the Strong’s concordance, it is number 1308, diaphero. It is that which is different, set apart, of more value. 

My thoughts in my writing had been around different publications that supposedly are for “Christian” enlightenment. I read a lot of articles, posts, and some print magazines, and am searching for another good print magazine to subscribe. It’s difficult to find something that is excellent. I read things that are by Christians and non-Christians alike; things that are specifically labelled Christian and things that are specifically labelled secular. 

Verse 10 says that ye may approve things that are excellent. It is important (I think) to look back to verse 9, which says Paul prays the Philippians’ love abound in knowledge and judgment. When we reach that point, {is it only when we reach that point?then we will be able to approve things which are excellent.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The Living Page- Nature Notebooks and Scrapbooks

Late again to the discussion but I'm sure that's alright. This time the discussion is over pages 17-25 in The Living Page*. If you came here first and haven't been to Wildflowers & Marbles, I would suggest you go there {now or later; not trying to get rid of you *smile*}. She has some printables that are useful with nature study. Lists that are simple, and pretty too.
We all have a need to be trained to see, and to have our eyes opened before we can take in the joy that is meant for us in this beautiful life. ~Charlotte Mason
This entire chapter, Gallery of Forms, is a "catalogue, incomplete to be sure, of the various notebooks that appear in Mason's writings. (p. 17)" I especially like the last sentence in the paragraph where Laurie says there is undoubtedly more to come. I very much hope so! 

And so we start with Nature Notebooks. You can see some of my personal nature notebook pages as I've put them on a page of my blog. 

I found it to be quite interesting, but really not terribly surprising, that Mason was in some way responsible for many of Sir Robert Baden-Powell's ideas for the Boy Scouts. Before Mason though was Gilbert White and his use of nature journals. He's quite famous over in England. I think I've seen them on Gutenberg and they are straightforward, much like the example Laurie gives on page 20. So nature journals needn't be extreme or complicated. This is something that perhaps people get caught up on. There are notebooks that people keep that are quite wonderfully done; illustrated beautifully. It doesn't necessarily have to have illustrations. 
The nature notebook is a dated observation of the progression of the seasons week to week, including drawings, prose, and information gathered on a need to know basis. It can include geology, geography, the course of the sun, behavior of clouds, weather signs and many other observations. (p. 21)
The Scrapbooks/Collections is "less about amassing finds than ensuring this personal connection" (p. 24, emphasis mine)" And Laurie quotes a Parents' Review article, "A Few Words About the P.N.E.U." by M. Reppman, of which I put a small portion here:
Every year, in May, during the annual conference, there is an exhibition of the works made by the young members of the club {the history clubs are talked about more in Jen's post}, which consist in collections of dried plants, drawings of flowers, plants and insects, which are often accompanied by personal descriptions, remarks and observations of the young explorer. (quoted on p. 24, emphasis mine)
Here is a page from both of my kids' nature notebooks. They are different but both perfectly acceptable. 

The next discussion is over pages 26-38, a lot more of the notebooks mentioned in Mason's writings. I'm really interested in "The Enquire Within” or Household Book. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

Menu Plan Monday 04.14.14

Got the plan made this afternoon before shopping. 

04.14 Monday
B- Crepes {S} ds had honey on his; dd and I had Greek yogurt and stevia {ours were better *wink*}
L- Leftover enchiladas from Sunday {CO} I had oatmeal with blueberries and cottage cheese {E}
D- Cheeseburger Pie {S} It's in the book under Evening Meals. I changed it some by cutting the recipe in 1/2, and subbing 1/2 of the called for mayonnaise with Greek yogurt. Served with salad for dh and I; corn on the side for the kids.

04.15 Tuesday
B- Light White Blueberry Muffins {S} In the book under "Muffins, Breads, and Pizza Crusts"
L- Lettuce wraps with either turkey or ham, cheese, mayo, mustard {S/FP/E} I might make some Trim Healthy Pan Bread for {E} sandwiches if they want something "more" to their sandwich.
D- Taco Salad {S} the kids and hubby will most likely have corn tortilla chips and cheese with theirs; I just have the salad, meat and Greek yogurt pretending to be sour cream. I might have a couple chips...

My lunch; kids opted for lettuce wraps. 
It was super yummy! I had two of those by the way.
04.16 Wednesday
B- Cereal {kids}/Oatmeal with berries and cottage cheese {E}
L- Quesadillas {S} or {CO} for ds with a regular tortilla
D- All Day Lentil Soup {E} I might make biscuits for the family, which would make this a {CO} for them...will see

04.17 Thursday
B- Super Grains cereal OR Oatmeal with berries and cottage cheese {E}
L- Bean and cheese burritos {CO} I eat just the filling without cheese which usually makes it {E}
D- Italian Style chicken (crockpot) {S} In the book under Evening Meals, Clever Crockpot Meals

04.18 Friday
B- Cereal {kids}/Eggs {S}
L- Salad with meat and cheese {S}
Tea-time: Fox is going to make fudgy brownies- definitely not on-plan! Perhaps some Friday I'll make the Special Agent Brownie Cake.
D- Pizza {CO}

04.19 Saturday
B- Cereal {kids}/Eggs {S}
L- Meat sandwiches {CO} I will make mine with the Trim Healthy Pan Bread for {E} since I don't put on the cheese and can go without mayo every so often.
D- Chicken Alfredo (crockpot) with veggies {E} another "in the book" choice, under Evening Meals, Clever Crockpot Meals
Dessert: Ice Cream! in the book- Tummy Tucking Ice Cream {E/FP}

04.20 Sunday
B- Eggs {S}
Brunch at church- Pastries, bagels, fruit (I can only hope), juice, coffee, etc.
D- Leftovers (there better be some!)

That's the menu for this week. I made sure we had some different things to try. Thankfully we are blessed with plenty of chicken in the freezer; many dinners with chicken. 

We have been trying to curtail our 'junk' eating during the week. The weekend is for that now- but not too much! I'm trying to be flexible with some THM desserts, some off-plan desserts. 

Today I made tea with THM Sweet Blend instead of sugar. It's good...but it'll take some of the family some getting used to *wink* Only 2 TBS and it tastes like sweet tea! 
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