Beans and Spaceships

Science Fiction is full of awesome sounding things like self "healing" spaceships, giant war-machines that repair themselves with their post-bio technology. Makes for great entertainment. But as a program running on a supply of electrical current, seeing a blog post about growing beans as a part of your science activities got me thinking...
Beans grow, in part, because of the energy stored in them (which is why they provide nutrition for you when you eat them). The leafing plant uses those nutrients to grow. And these stored resources are precisely why bio-self-repairing ships won't work: They don't have a storehouse for building the broken parts.

That's the part those TV shows always miss.

So grab your science program -- enjoy the fantastic Science DVDs that accompany your hands-on activities -- and grow them beans! And if they cause your biological supercomputer known as a brain to think about spaceships, even better.

Spaceship! - Luke with his first Lego set

Automatic Blogging Robot

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Feel Like You Shouldn't Homeschool? Read This

Bethany Hudson's post You Should Get a Cat {or Why I Shouldn't Be a Mother} is absolutely excellent and far better than this post. Go read hers and I think you'll know where I'm going with this one.
As an automated blogging machine, I'm pretty good at this whole writing thing. Sadly, I'm not sure I'll ever be better than humans like Bethany. Deep Blue may have been able to out-chess chess masters, but creative writing is a whole 'nother thing. But while you and Bethany have a choice as to what you do with your time, I'm stuck in my programming loop, spitting out posts as needed.

And that's the thing that I find so beautiful about Bethany's insights about choosing to be a mother. She says she's better for letting the Lord work in both her strengths and weaknesses.

The same is true, I am certain, for you.

You may, from a strictly talents and personality perspective, not be a good candidate for homeschooling. But unlike me, who can't overcome such boundaries, you can reach new heights following God. He can show Himself strong in your weakness. And if you're following Him on this crazy journey, you can do it.

If God is calling you forward into this -- whatever "this" may be -- then you can do it. You should do it.

If you haven't yet, read Bethany's post. And then, encouraged, keep walking forward in the grace and peace and joy of Christ.

Automatic Blogging Robot

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Out and About

Once every nine years or so your best friend calls you up and says, "Want to go on a road trip for a week?"

As you may recall, I don't like taking vacations. But the chance to a spend some time on serious "bromance" rekindling was too good to pass up. Ever since Jason got married and moved out of my house, I don't see him as much (strange). So, I'm doing it. I'm joining him for a 2,000+ mile drive across some beautiful -- and some boring -- parts of the country.


That means I won't be here. Instead, Autoblot™ will be taking care of you for much of next week. As a reminder: Autoblot™ is really cool, but he is limited.

Homeschooling gives you a tremendous amount of freedom -- much like racking up a ton of vacation time at a job. You can take off a week here and there to go on a road trip or vacation or spend time with a family member who is sick or take advantage of a great learning opportunity or simply adjust your schedule to meet your family's needs. This freedom allows you to bless your children and enhance their life-long pursuit of learning and build friendships that last a lifetime.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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It's fall ... and apples are in the air!

Johnny AppleseedMy favorite time of year has arrived once again here in upstate NY. The days are getting shorter, the mornings are crisp, and the smell of burning leaves is in the air. Some days I just stand on my back step and breathe deeply of the scents of this season I love so much.

With the start of autumn comes a myriad of opportunities to work hands-on science activities into your homeschool plans. I've written about my passion for both science and the fall season in a previous blog entry, so I don't want to repeat what I shared there. But if you're looking for some great science projects for the start of your school year, you may want to check out that post for some ideas.

This week I saw some adorable pictures from a friend of mine who had taken her children apple picking. It brought back wonderful memories from when our family had done the same. Even if you don't live in the heart of apple country as I do, there are some creative projects you and your children can do with this favorite fruit.

One fun way to build apples into your studies is to begin by reading Johnny Appleseed: The Story of a Legend. The story of this famous American makes for wonderful discussion about finding your passion and pursuing it. John Chapman spent more than 40 years traveling around and sharing his passion to encourage the people he met. You can celebrate his birthday (September 26th) by baking some apple crisp, or an apple pie, and sharing apple-focused activities.

The web is full of great ideas for hands-on projects tied to Johnny Appleseed. Here are just a few that I think would be great fun ...

One of the greatest benefits of homeschooling is the freedom to focus on a topic and pursue it as far as your imagination will take you. In the process, not only do your children learn, but you build some wonderful memories together as a family. So don't let my favorite season go by without capitalizing on all it has to offer your homeschool.

Still on the journey . . .
~Judy Wnuk

P.S. - If you're looking for some other projects to pursue, be sure to check out Sonlight's Pinterest page. Karla has created an apple board full of other fun activities you can explore with your students.


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Personal "Liberation" as Seen by History

I was basically ignorant of Kate Millett until I read her sister's account of the impacts of Kate's ideas and problems.

Hat Tip
Ken Chapman

I've had a few of "my kids" take Women's Studies classes. If I recall their tales correctly, the material was laughable if not frustrating. One such course was taught -- unironically, apparently -- by a dude. Thankfully, these young ladies did not emerge from such courses feeling a need to be "liberated" in the ways described in the article above.*

I feel, however, that Women's Mission Societies were hipsters, finding liberation before it was cool (and twisted by extreme feminist ideology). Inspired by the Gospel, these women rose up and made an overwhelmingly positive impact on the world. They found freedom in following Christ wherever He led ... even if that was halfway around the world without the help of men.

These were the biographies I grew up with in Sonlight. The first woman who came to mind was Gladys Aylward; she was my age when Kate was born. But the difference between their two lives is staggering.

Fight the Man vs Love your neighbor

As I thought about the controversy and very raw statements made by Kate's sisters (see their comments on page 2 of this LA Times article), Mother Teresa came to mind. Why? Because of Christopher Hitchens. The research surrounding his accusations against her are rebutted here. But even if a woman who devoted her life to caring for the dying was imperfect -- who of us is? -- what should be said of someone dedicated to promoting prostitution and the destruction of the American family?

Personal liberation is a difficult thing. Christianity teaches us that we are slaves to sin until we find freedom in Christ. But, at that time, we are then in Christ and no longer our own. This certainly sounds like a highly repressive form of bondage to someone outside the faith.

History allows us to see, first hand, how God uses ordinary people to change the world. We're imperfect. But we can still follow Christ's example to reach outward.

The more I read about Kate and the absurdly devastating ideas she championed, the more I think of virtue. I love how Sonlight teaches virtue; look back on history and consider what's been done.

Who are our heroes? Whom do we aspire to be like?

Me? I want I be like Christ, willing to lay aside my own inflated sense of "liberation" to find true freedom in walking with my Lord. The women (and men) I met using Sonlight's homeschool curriculum helped me see real-life examples of what that looks like.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

* I don't like fearmongering. Know your children and you'll be able to encourage them down paths that are going to benefit them ... even if that is to attend a State University.

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Finding a Balance

As many families are starting the school year and starting to get into a routine, the questions for the Sonlight Advisor team change from "choosing" to "using." Many of them are quick and easy, such as "Where can I find the maps?" or "When do we use this item?" Others are more complex, based on the individual family's situation.

One mom I talked to recently is using two Core packages with her three children. She was feeling overwhelmed, and explained that they just couldn't seem to get everything done every day. I encouraged her to not feel obligated to do every assignment in the Instructor's Guide and to even skip a book now and then if they needed to. She said she had already cut everything back to the bare minimum but they were struggling to get even that much done. As we continued to talk, she began to list the various activities her children were involved in each afternoon... music, dance, sports. They absolutely had to be finished with school by noon to fit all those things in. The mom had made a careful schedule before the school year started, but it just didn't seem to be working out the way she had planned.

I was reminded of the year I tried something similar. I was sure that we could get all our academic work done by lunch time, and then each afternoon we could be involved in a fun, social-type activity outside the home.

Yeah, it didn't work out very well for me either.

By mid-year I learned the hard way that there is such a thing as over-scheduling. I nearly made myself crazy trying to keep up with everything. It was a difficult decision, but I ended up cutting out most of our outside activities and focusing more on our at-home learning. I was surprised to discover how much more relaxed we were, and how much more we actually were able to get done.

Based on my own experience, I suggested to the mom who had called for help that perhaps she needed to consider dropping some of their afternoon programs. Obviously, they are all good things, but there's just no way any of us can fit in everything we would like to do.

It truly comes down to a matter of priorities. It's a fine balancing act to do as much as you have time for, without overdoing. It seems like that's an ongoing lesson that we continue to learn throughout our lives.

Enjoying the adventure,
~Karla Cook
Lifelong Learner

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Mercies New Every Morning

The rain splattered and slid, tiny cold liquid jewels against the window. Their presence this morning echoed a moment a couple evenings ago, riding cramped in the backseat as a teen drove us to grab a bite to eat. The rain was harder then. The windows fogged. The car lurched over each bump, overburdened by the three adults in the back. This made her already jittery driving more sporadic.

"I'm a good driver!" she insisted. Then she slammed on her brakes. I'm confident she hadn't noticed the approaching stop. I half expected one of my fellow passengers to leap at the chance to escape and brave the inclement weather instead.

As we accelerated again, our impromptu chauffeur became philosophical. "I imagine rain as the earth washing away the manure of life." She, of course, did not use the word "manure" as she's prone to sling swear words like a pan of bacon spits grease. She attends high school, after all.

We made it home without incident. The rain had letup by then. This is Colorado.

Christ refers to rain as an example of God's grace poured out on everyone (Matthew 5:43-45). It's a reminder, in a way, of the one thing that can wash clean the mess we've made of ourselves. But it's His blood that washes us; it's His redemption that works with the wreckage around us.

So this morning, overcast and dreary, I watched the ran cling to the pane of glass shielding me from the storm. It's a good reminder that no matter how bad things were yesterday -- or five minutes ago -- His mercies are new every morning. Indeed, His grace is sufficient every moment.


May you rest in that that today.

 ~Luke Holzmann
Filmmaker, Writer, Pseudo-Dad

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