Saturday, December 31, 2016

Reflecting Back on 2016...

As we prepare to watch the ball drop in TImes Square, Riley requested a year in review blog post with pictures.  So here's to our beautiful daughter...













May you be blessed in the New Year,

Friday, December 30, 2016

Weekly Reflections - Week Fifteen and Sixteen...

At Home

Christmas has come and gone here on Drywood Creek, as has weeks fifteen and sixteen of the 2016-2017 school year.  We've had some light days as far as scheduling, but deep conversations and many fabulous books were and are still being read.  I'm looking forward to a quiet weekend to usher in the New Year.

Around the Web

Lisa Ripperton, founder of the Baldwin Project and Yesterday's Classics has started A Culture of Reading, a new blog.  I love Yesterday's Classics reprints!  We own and have read several.  They are so tastefully done with larger print and ample white space on the page, they are appealing to the eye. I look forward to reading Lisa's blog posts.

In Classical Education Does not Permit Students to be Uniformed, Mystie shares some thoughts from a reading of Plutarch.  I recently purchased The Great Tradition and look forward to digging deeper in the new year.

Back at the Blog

Here were the top posts at Reflections from Drywood Creek in 2016....

My Love Hate Relationship with Life of Fred - This post went viral rather quickly.

Schole Sisters: How I Started a Group - I love my Schole Sisters and look forward to gathering again in the new year.

Planning Your Homeschool Year - I'm a planner by nature so writing this post was right up my alley :)

Friday Findings: Homeschool Audit, Homeschool Planning, The Reading Promise and Glue... - The popularity of this post surprised me.  

Sunburn Hack - This one surprised me as well.  The best part is the stats have grown the most very recently in the month of December, which is winter here in WI, and we wouldn't even think of baring any part of our body for possible sun exposure because we would instead contract hypothermia. 

Thanks so much for logging on and taking the time to read!  This blog has grown tremendously over the past five years.  I truly appreciate your consideration and look forward to some blog updates in early 2017, hopefully, improving Reflections from Drywood Creek for upcoming years. 

Monday, December 26, 2016

2016 Back to the Classics Challenge Wrap-Up....

I finished the 2016 Back to the Classics Challenge, reading books in six of the twelve categories. The books in each category that I read were...

A classic in translation - Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

An adventure classic - Robinson Crusoe by Daniel DeFoe

A fantasy, science fiction, or dystopian classic - The Hobbit by J.R R. Tolkien

A classic which includes the name of a place in the title - Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

A classic which has been banned or censored - The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain

Re-read a classic you read for school (high school or college) - The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

The 2017 Challenge is just around the corner. I see there are a few new categories this time.  I'm still on the fence as to whether or not I'll participate.  Last year, I was able to read nine of the twelve categories.  I didn't do quite as well this year. I find myself reading so much to the kids that I don't always have time for my own reading...ahem!

Did you complete the challenge?  I'd love to hear about it.  Please free free to comment below.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Reflections from Consider This - Chapter Three...

Continuing on from Chapter Two, assuming my view of man affects the way I educate my children, should that education be separated from moral development? This idea of whether or not to separate education from moral development is the premise of Chapter Three in Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass.

Again, as in the Introduction, we see Glass hearken back to why vs. how.  She reiterates as we continue to look at what the "superior intellects of the past" did, we need to ask why they did what they did.
When we understand what motivated their educational efforts, we will see that there is a sharp difference between the historical, classical approach to education and our modern one. (p. 18)
Therefore, we should seek not only their method (how) but also their purpose (why).  So next one must ask, what was the purpose for classical education?

Based on considerations of Norms and Nobility written by David Hicks, Glass asserts that virtue was the goal of the classical educators.
Both Plato and Aristotle, who give us the oldest writings on education that we have, linked knowledge to action or behavior.  It was their desire to teach children not only to know what was right, but to love what was good, true and beautiful so that their conduct would reflect their wise understanding. (p. 18) 
Charlotte Mason was familiar with the thinking of both Aristotle and Plato, and reiterates their idea as part of her own philosophy. (p. 19) 
knowledge + action = virtue

The problem today is this idea that education is a process of developing character and virtue rather than developing intellect.  It is a paradigm shift for many modern day educators who have divorced education from moral development. Classical educators did not separate character training from the teaching of school subjects such as grammar and mathematics.
The classical educators did not make such a distinction.  All areas of education  were brought into service for this single goal - to teach children to think and act rightly. (p.19)
What the educators of history have to tell us is that education is about developing a vision of goodness and virtue, and then - most importantly - bringing that knowledge to bear on actual conduct.  Right thinking is an important step toward that end, but knowledge alone without conscience or virtue was never an object. (p. 20)
The development of intellect was meant to serve in formation of character.
We learn to know in order that we many know how to act rightly, not merely to take tests...The classical education of history, as well as Charlotte Mason, consistently link intellectual and moral development. (p.21)
[Charlotte] "brings a distinctly Christian understanding to what it means to make virtue or character the aim of education." (p.22) 
On the other hand, one could argue that right thinking does not always lead to right action.  However, Glass states, "it was the guiding motivation for the classical educators."  After reading Chapter Three of Consider This, I'm chewing on the assertion that classical educators sought virtue as their guiding motivation. That they did not separate character training from academics. and that they brought all areas of education into service. Therefore, I am under the assumption that if I view my children as born persons then my desire to educate should not be separated from their moral development.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you. (Philippians 4:8-9 KJV)

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekly Reflections - Week Fourteen...

At Home

Well, we started the week with a nasty stomach bug, which meant someone threw up everyday four days in a row!  We did get a few day break and now the third child is down. On the bright side, hopefully it will all be done before the Christmas gatherings begin. I also spent a day with family at a funeral for my uncle this week. It was good to see everyone, but so unfortunate that we only see some of these people in times of tragedy. All this to say, I didn't get much accomplished this week.

But, take heart!  'Tis the weekend to catch up because yesterday and today is another blizzard. We received approx. 5-6 inches of snow overnight.  It is still snowing now and the wind is ramping up. Temps are expected to be a high of -6 tomorrow, with windchills -40 degrees.  Yes, those are negative signs in front of the numbers.  The kids were supposed to perform in the Christmas play tomorrow at church, but all festivities have been canceled including the church service due to the weather.  So for now, we are hunkering down in these here parts.

In and around the cold snaps, over the past couple of weeks, the kids set up the Christmas tree, strung lights outside, and have been busy making other Christmas preparations.  Riley and Levi made the centerpiece above as well as a couple of wreaths they hung out of doors. I found and made a yummy new recipe for these Loaded Crunchy Brownie Bars...

Throughout the holidays, we will continue with our four day a week academics for the most part. The load has been somewhat lightened and will include a variety of Christmas activities, books, and movies. We don't travel for Christmas as our family is all in the area.  As mentioned, our church activities were canceled for now due to the inclement weather. We are set to Christmas carol around town next week if weather permits. We will bake intermittently as needed. The cards are sent. Most of the shopping is done. We will most likely be watching The Nativity Story over the next week.  I blogged earlier in the week about the stacks of Christmas picture books we have added this season for our reading pleasure. Since the weather outside is frightful this time of year, I enjoy staying indoors, reading and spending leisurely time together for the holidays.

Around the Web

Have you been wondering about Math-U-See and Saxon?  In Why I Love Math-U-See, Mystie Winckler gives a fabulous comparison and overview of how she uses MUS in her home.

Karen at Books and Chocolate posted the categories for the 2017 Back to the Classics Challenge as well as her proposed book list for the year.  I'll be posting my 2016 completed list over the next couple of weeks. I'm still contemplating participation in 2017 as I'm not sure if I would read books from some of the categories. I haven't given a lot of thought to next year's reading yet...but I should get on it since it's only a couple of weeks away, ahem!

On My Reading Table

I currently have a ton of books I want to read and checked out from the library.  The cold weather does that to me ;-)

Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens - Our January Middle School Book Club read so I'm beginning to prep.

Hittite Warrior by Joanne Williamson - I'm currently reading this aloud to Ruben as part of his Heart of Dakota Creation to Christ academics.

Uniquely Human: A Different Way of Seeing Autism by Barry Prizant - This book was recommended by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason.  I'm only a couple of chapters in, but it's definitely giving me some insight and perspective on one of our kids.

The Delight Gluten-Free Cookbook: 150 Delicious Recipes by Vanessa Weisbrod - I tried some cookies from this book last weekend and they were actually good.  I've been dabbling in gluten free cooking for a while, but not whole hog yet. 

Cure Tooth Decay: Heal & Prevent Cavities with Nutrition by Ramiel Nagel - This book was recommended by a friend when she found out I had a child with tooth issues.  There is some interesting information here. 

A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind by Michael O'Brien -  This, along with Vigen Guroian's Tending the Heart of Virtue, was recommended by Andrew Pudewa in IEW's Virtual Winter Retreat that I attended last weekend.

The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need—and What We Can Do About It by Tony Wagner - I can't remember where I heard about this book.  I picked it up from the library yesterday and haven't gotten a chance to look through it yet. 

How to Tutor by Samuel Blumenfeld - I was intrigued by the math portion of this book. You can read it online free here.

What's on your reading table?

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Books for Christmas....

We are in a Christmas book frenzy here.  I've been pulling off the shelf and currently have around thirty more Christmas books on hold at the library. Levi is the perfect age for snuggling up with picture books and it never fails as soon as I crack a spine, the big kids come too. A few we're reading from the shelf this year are...

The Animals' Christmas Carol by Helen Ward
Cranberry Christmas by Wende and Harry Devlin
An Early American Christmas by Tomie dePaola
Christmas Tapestry by Patricia Polacco
The Christmas Miracle by Jonathan Tommey
Christmas in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Jan Brett
Who's That Knocking on Christmas Eve? by Jan Brett

Something new that I'm looking forward to reading this year is The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean. I've seen it listed on a few blogs and book lists, but have never read it.

The following titles are from our library list...

The Remarkable Christmas of the Cobbler's Son by Ruth Sawyer
The Christmas Bird by Bernadett Watts
A Small Miracle by Peter Collington
An Orange for Frankie by Patricia Polacco
The Story of Holly and Ivy by Rumer Godden
Becky's Christmas by Tasha Tudor
Christmas in the Stable by Astrid Lindgren
The Gift from Saint Nicholas by Dorthea Lachner
The Baker's Dozen: A Saint Nicholas Tale retold by Aaron Shepard
Christmas Day in the Morning by Pearl S. Buck 
Great Joy by Kate DiCamillo
Christmas in Noisy Village by Astrid Lindgren
Silver Packages  An Appalachian Christmas Story by Cynthia Rylant
The Wee Christmas Cabin of Carn-na-ween by Ruth Sawyer
The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story by Gloria Houston
Why Christmas Trees Aren't Perfect by Richard H. Schneider 
Shoemaker Martin based on a story by Leo Tolstoy
Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree by Robert E. Barry
Christmas Eve by Edith Thatcher Hurd
The Last Straw by Frederick H. Thury
The Little Drummer Boy Ezra Jack Keats
Mary Engelbreit's Nutcracker by Mary Engelbreit
The Donkey's Dream by Barbara Helen Berger
The Crippled Lamb by Max Lucado
Children of the Forest by Elsa Beskow
Ollie's Ski Trip by Elsa Beskow
Inventing the Christmas Tree by Bernd Brunner
Amahl and the Night Visitors Roger Duvoisin
Annika's Secret Wish by Bevery Lewis
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Laurel Long
The Twelve Days of Christmas by Brian Wildsmith

Some Christmas books that we've enjoyed in the past are...

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens
Jotham's Journey by Arnold Ytreeide
A Tree for Peter by Kate Seredy 
The Birds' Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin
A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz
Lion in the Box by Marguerite De Angeli

What are your favorite Christmas books? Feel free to share in the comments below. 

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Weekly Reflections - Week Thirteen....

At Home

Fall sure does provide us with some unique and beautiful sunsets!  The weather has since turned frightful. We are bracing for 4-7 inches of snow by morning. I was thankful to be snug inside today participating in IEW's Virtual Winter Retreat.  Andrew Pudewa was great as usual and overall the retreat was fabulous!

Riley and Ruben finished this semester of choir this week.  They put on a delightful concert Thursday evening.  Their hard work paid off. We now have a couple of months off before spring semester begins.

My CM Study Group met last night to discuss more of Consider This by Karen Glass. There were six of us in attendance and the conversation was great.  Earlier this week, I posted some thoughts on Chapter Two. I did get a bit behind on posting so coming soon, I have five more chapters read to share.

This week, Ruben said to me, "Mom, I'm doing a lot more reading and writing this year." He was proud and it was good for me to be reminded that even though we may not be on grade according to certain standards, he is right on track for where he is supposed to be.  Something I wrote in my notes during the retreat today was, "do not compare with other students of the same age - instead focus on progress they're making - no such thing as being behind unless you view education as a conveyor belt"....WOW, no conveyor belt thinking here, ahem, nothing like a good slap in the face to bring perspective!

Around the Web

Would an educational philosophy by any other name smell as sweet? by Brandy Vencel was an interesting read, which sparked some debate in the comments.  I happen to agree with Brandy in the fact that I would not limit myself to any one particular method/philosophy.  As Lisa A mentioned in the comments, "I don't like being put in a box". I'm too much of thinker for this, which ultimately is something I believe Charlotte would have agreed.

I do indeed hold a great respect for Charlotte Mason and her philosophy.  However, I am not Charlotte Mason and my circumstances are no where near hers. For one thing, I live 100 years later and the times are much different. For another, I am a homeschooling mother, balancing many roles within our family, not a single teacher.

With that said, I do practice many of Charlotte's methods in my homeschool.  I have read and studied her Volume 6, A Philosophy of Education, and agree with much of what she said.  However, I do not limit myself as I also study and read about other philosophies.  As was mentioned, mimicking Charlotte Mason alone is limiting.  Because Charlotte was progressive, I believe she would encourage us to continue moving forward, taking the best and making the rest better.

In A Study of Charlotte Mason's Books, Lisa Kelly shares thoughts on some of the books Charlotte used in her school for geography, history, and science. I used Charlotte's geography when the kids were young.  I was now particularly intrigued by the history books mentioned, most likely because it is a favorite subject of mine. I was able to find both history books mentioned free online as well as the zoology mentioned for science in order to take a peek.  I love the conversational tone, illustrations and margin notes in each book. I think Kelly brings up a good point about teacher prep and book choice.
With the exception of the book choices for history for the lower years, Charlotte Mason's history books are textbooks, but of another kind. In the end, it seems that the emphasis is on what the book offers over what category we place it. If we are preparing the readings and providing the student with a book that promotes interest and allows for narration, then we are meeting more of CM's educational principles than perhaps with other book choices.
We need not be afraid of textbooks, but rather diligent in our search for just the right textbook.

It's lovely to live on a raft.  We had the sky, up there, all speckled with stars, and we used to lay on our backs and look up at them, and discuss about whether they was made, or only just happened - Jim he allowed they was make but I allowed they happened; I judged it would have took too long to make so many.  Jim said the moon could a laid them; well, that looked kind of reasonable, so I didn't say nothing against it, because I've seen a frog lay most as many, so of course it could be done.  We used to watch the stars that fell, too, and see them streak down. Jim allowed they'd got spoiled and was hove out of the nest. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Ch 19)
 But the worst of imagining things is that the time comes when you have to stop and that hurts. (Anne of Greene Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Ch 4)
Why must people kneel down to pray?  If I really wanted to pray I'll tell you what I'd do.  I'd go out into a great big field all alone or into the deep, deep woods, and I'd look up into the sky - up - up - up - into that lovely blue sky that looks as if there was no end to its blueness and then I'd just feel a prayer.  (Anne of Greene Gables by L.M. Montgomery, Ch 7)

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Anne of Green Gables...

Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery was our November 2016 Middle School Socratic Book Club read.  It is a fabulous read that draws on the life of the author, L. M. Montgomery.  Shortly after its publication in 1908, Montgomery received praise from Mark Twain, which was a bit ironic since Twain authored The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, our first book of this Middle School Socratic Book Club season.

Anne Shirley is an 11-year old orphan girl adopted by siblings Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, owners of Green Gables. The Cuthberts originally write for a male orphan to stay with them to help with farm chores.  Therefore, Matthew is quite shocked when he arrives at the train station to pick up his orphan and it's a girl. Eventually, Anne Shirley wins the heart of Matthew and Marilla and it's decided she will stay at Green Gables rather than being sent back in exchange for a boy.

Anne is a lively character with a big imagination.  Her exuberance for life and strong opinions push the story forward.  Her childish antics keep the reader entertained and longing for more.  Of course, Anne's imagination and romanticized ideas of what life should be like versus the real life world is a major conflict in the story.  Some folks, including Marilla, found Anne strange and wanted her to stop imagining in order to conform to their world and the expectations of their community Avonlea. In the end, Anne shows real maturity and responsibility in the sacrifice of her life's dream.  She gives up the Avery scholarship she worked so hard to achieve in order to stay at Green Gables and care for Marilla and the farm after tragedy strikes. Her decision leads to that man vs. society conflict resolution.

The major theme of Anne of Green Gables is belonging.  Anne longs to find a place to belong. She wants to be loved in spite of her idealistic dreams, thin frame and red hair. She eventually strikes a balance between her imagination and social respectability giving her a home and family at Green Gables.

Riley, Ruben and I thoroughly enjoyed Anne of Green Gables.  Ruben initially asked for more and now both he and Riley want to continue with L. M. Montgomery's classic series.  Ironically, on Thanksgiving evening, the Anne of Green Gables movie played on our local PBS station.  It was a wonderful and warm way to end our day of giving thanks, but in no way a suitable replacement for Montgomery's original work.  I am using Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery as my 2016 Back to the Classics Name of Place in Title book.  Whether young or old, I highly encourage you to consider reading it!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Reflections from Consider This - Chapter Two

Chapter Two of Consider This, Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition by Karen Glass brought two questions to mind:

1. What is my view of man?

2. How does my view of man affect the way I educate my children?

Right off the bat, Glass asserts,
No educational philosophy can be consistent or valid unless it is underpinned by a just and comprehensive view of man. (p. 12)
I immediately thought of Charlotte Mason's Principles One and Two:

1. Children are born persons. 

2. Children are not born either good or bad, but with possibilities for good and evil. 

As I've noted in the past, Charlotte lived in England at the same time as Charles Darwin.  She would have been about seventeen years old when he published On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution. No doubt, this among other scientific views of hereditary determinism, prompted these two first principles, where Charlotte refuted the notion that infants needed to evolve a bit more before coming into full personhood and that a child was born either good or bad in so that education could not change their disposition.

In relation to Consider This, Glass states that our view of man affects the way we choose to educate.
If you believe that a child is born "bad," and no education will change his nature, you might very well leave him alone to reap the consequences as they come, and the sooner he is out of the way the better.. If a child is born "good," that good nature may be riled upon, and no special effort to inculcate good principles or character is particularly necessary....
In other words, if you assume that character (whether good or bad) is "born" into children, then formation of character and virtue will not play a vital role in your educational program. (p. 15-16)
Charlotte believed quite the contrary. She felt that both good and bad were possible. Therefore, she taught to nurture the good and to help the child see and hopefully correct their bad character. I believe, as did Charlotte, that children are complete and whole persons at birth. Their souls are formed at the time of conception and their minds are brought to fruition in the womb. This means that all possibilities are present and possible from day one.  Glass sums up by stating,
...educators throughout history have made wisdom and virtue a primary goal for education, and Charlotte Mason shared their vision. (p. 16)
As a mother, I know best each of my child's strengths and weaknesses.  Because I love and value them as born persons, I am their best teacher.  Now, this does not mean that I am the fountain head of all knowledge. It simply means that it is my job to find the best possible resources to strengthen their good possibilities, build character, and nourish each of my children's minds. My view of man definitely affects the way I choose to educate. I want stories with good morals and virtuous characters to lay down a model before my children.  I am of the mind that if we surround ourselves with truth, beauty, and goodness, then we will become true, beautiful, and good.

In summary, I wanted to mention one other point Glass made in Chapter Two.  She cited the fact that popular literature from Charlotte's general era is filled with examples of genetic determinism.  Interestingly, I recently found two instances of this quite naturally.  The first being in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, which was published in 1884. In Chapter 31, Huck is trying to decide whether or not to write Miss Watson and tell her the whereabouts of her "nigger" Jim, whom he had run away with.  Eventually, Huck thinks better of it and rips up the letter he was considering sending to Miss Watson and he says,
'All right, then, I'll go to hell' - and tore it up. 
It was awful thoughts, and awful words, but they was said.  And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming.  I shoved the whole thing out of my head and said I would take up wickedness again, which was in my line, begin brung up to it, and that other warn't. And for a starter, I would go to work and steal Jim out of slavery again; and if I could think up anything worse, I would do that too; because as long as I was in, and in for good, I might as well go the whole hog. (Chapter 31 - Huck Finn)
Here we see Huck thinking it was in his line and that he was "brung up" or born wicked so he may as well play the part.  There are other additional references to this type of thinking throughout the story.

A second example I found was in Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery, in which Anne believes it's her destiny to be horrible because of her red hair.  She says something to the effect that red hair makes it easier to be bad than good.  She further states that anyone who doesn't have red hair could never know how horrible it is.  Anne of Green Gables was published in 1908. Before reading Consider This, I hadn't noticed these significant references to hereditary determinism.  

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Weekly Reflections - Week Twelve...

At Home

In wrapping up our twelfth week of this 2016-2017 school year, we took a field trip to the Minneapolis Institute of Art to see the Martin Luther Art and the Reformation exhibit.  WOW!  If you have the opportunity to travel within the U.S. before January 15, 2017, I would highly encourage you to check it out, as 2017 is the 500th Anniversary of Luther's posting of the Ninety-five Thesis.  We won't actually be revisiting that time period in our studies until 2017-2018, but seeing the exhibit is an opportunity of a life time since this is the first time these artifacts have ever left Germany.

It was amazing to see relics from Luther's childhood through adult life. There were several artifacts that intrigued me including marbles and leather letter "D" (presumed to be from a sash of one of Luther's sisters), pulled from a burn-pit near Luther's home; a hunting knife set of Elector Frederick the Wise; several vestments and Emperor Maximillian I's pilgrim's garment; as well as an indulgence chest.  But the one thing that really stuck out was the pulpit from which Luther gave his last sermon three days before he died. The museum note stated...
Standing on this pulpit on February 15, 1546, Luther closed his final sermon with the words, "....I am too weak, so we want to leave it at that." Three days later, he passed away. For centuries pilgrims have traveled to stand before this pulpit, a monument of Protestantism in St. Andrew's Church in Eisleben. 
During recent repair work a chalk inscription came to light, revealing the date of the pulpit's construction: 1518. It can now be identified as one of the first pulpits installed during the time when Luther elevated the role of sermons in church services...
Being a lover of history, standing near these iconic items about and around 500 years old was so fascinating and almost surreal. We read about these historic events that seem so far away, but the realization of it is the effect that they have on us in the here and now.

Around the Web

In Nature Study or Science? Barb McCoy makes a wonderful case for nature study, particularly in the elementary grades. She didn't quote Charlotte Mason, but the quotes she did use were very much in line with Charlotte's thinking.

Are you signed up for IEW's Virtual Winter Retreat?  It's FREE!  Even if you are unable to attend on December 10th, by signing up, you will receive the recordings to watch anytime at your convenience.

This morning, I listened to Schole Sisters Episode #16, Don't Be the White Witch.  I'm still processing it and may go back and listen again. The kids have been begging, literally, to set up the tree since before Thanksgiving because of our culture's materialistic portrayal of Christmas.  Sale flyers, Black Friday beginning on Thursday of Thanksgiving, TV commercials, Christmas play parts being assigned at church, etc. have all had an effect on them. I'm not saying they're materialistic, but that seeing the material side of Christmas so early has put ideas in their head. Part of it is just the excitement of being a kid during the holiday season.  But to be perfectly honest, it's driving me nuts!!  I mean to point of hating the season and me wanting to minimize it all.  However, the Schole Sisters bring up an excellent point in their podcast.  Mystie even said something in regard to thinking about whether or not we are consumer driven or joy of living driven.

I finally gave in and let them set up the tree today. But as they were fighting over which lights to put on and how to decorate it, I blew up...ahem :(  Now, I'm rethinking the season. I want to be joy driven, which is going to take a ton of hard work in this world I live, but I do believe it's attainable because the coming of our Savior is definitely a reason to celebrate. Therefore, I shall carry on.