Sunday, September 30, 2012

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

Brother had a tooth knocked at soccer this week and it came out at dinner at friends' house on Friday night. He fished around for it in his chewed up biscuit. Gotta love it.

The last week has been a blur. I've got several pieces I'm writing for various spaces and places and our littles had a crazy schedule this week. 

Today we spent a glorious afternoon at Silver Falls State Park unwinding. Weekend plans changed. Life has a way of doing that. It's all good. And yes, we were the loudest people in the park. As always.

I really enjoyed this book. Now, how am I going to apply it to my life? Still thinking on that one.

How Children Succeed by Paul Tough

How do you motivate children and families to care about character? How do you teach a child to care as much about what they do, as what they don't do in regards to their character? Paul Tough explores these questions in How Children Succeed, Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

I will be thinking about this book for a long time and how to apply it to the students in my sphere. Tough makes clear that an emotional connection with a parent is the most important factor in success for a child. Children who do not have physical resources, but do have the love of a parent are far more likely to succeed in love, school, work, and recreation than a child who lacks bonding and love in their life.

He identifies seven characteristics that help determine future success for a student: self-control, grit, zest, social intelligence, gratitude, optimism, and curiosity. A student needs opportunities for academic and character development daily. Tough looks at schools and classrooms that incorporate character formation into all teaching sessions.

Tough asserts that self-discipline scores are a better predictor of success than IQ scores. Character counts. So how do you motivate students for the long run? They need both motivation and volition (will power) to achieve their dreams.

He makes clear that students need the opportunity to build character through stakes in something so important that failure is quite possible. Students need to have the opportunity to fail dramatically. In doing so, around fifth grade, they develop character. Learning to manage failure builds grit, determination and character. The kids who make it in life, rise above the failure and realize, I'm okay.

Rising above failure is also achieved through mental contrasting. In mental contrasting, a student overcomes stereotypes and concentrates on a positive outcome, while still acknowledging the obstacles they will face and focusing on solutions to those obstacles.

Tough introduces SLANT, a model for behavior that asks the student to be an active observer with an awareness that street behavior and class behavior are quite different. Excellent observers will see opportunities that others will miss.

Sit up. Listen. Ask questions. Nod. Track the Speaker.

How Children Succeed is really about how children think, about mastery of subjects as well as character formation. How do we help our students overcome and obtain a vision for their future? How do we prepare them for success, as well as failure?

Tough makes the case that college access is no longer an issue in the United States, but we have a real problem with limited and unequal college completion. He asks and looks at how we get our students to the finish line. Are the SAT and ACT tests real indicators of success today and are they the only indicators of success? No. We can better prepare students for success through character training and Tough looks at where we are doing that well in America.

Tough ends How Children Succeed dialoguing about education reform and how to best help our disadvantaged students stuck in the cycle of poverty. He makes a strong case that when education reform becomes based on child development and parent encouragement, the prosperity of our children and our nation will rise. 

Working on an ancient history poem this weekend.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

End of Day

 End of Day

The bodies press.
They rush and crest.
The building exhales.
Mamas open wide the nest,
and fluff feathers once again.

By Kim Conolly

Friday, September 21, 2012

All the World Aflame, CS Lewis on Peace and War

I am researching war and peace for my Sunday School class. I stumbled upon this CS Lewis article. It's weighty, but worth it.

Internet Link:

CS Lewis War and Peace

...we have a duty to rescue a drowning man, and perhaps if we live on a dangerous coast, to learn life-saving so as to be ready for any drowning man when he turns up. It may be our duty to lose our own lives in saving him. But if anyone devoted himself to life-saving in the sense of giving it his total attention--so that he thought and spoke of nothing else and demanded the cessation of all other human activities until everyone had learned to swim--he would be a monomaniac. The rescue of drowning men is then a duty worth dying for, but not worth living for. A man may have to die for his country: but no man must in any exclusive sense live for his country. He who surrenders himself without reservation to the claims of a nation, or a party, or a class is rendering unto Caesar that which of all things most emphatically belongs to God: himself (Weight 47).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Fall, Apples and an Anniversary

Those who cannot do pie (crust), do galette. That would be me. One certain male who asked for wedding pies 15 years ago has learned to love galette, cause I can't, don't, won't do pie (very often). Maybe I'll try pie (crust) again, tomorrow. As for the the pie eater, what can I say? He's amazing.

He keeps me exploring new places and...

 he carries us with a big wide open love that knows no bounds.

 I am blessed.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Ride into town with me?

Have you ever noticed that some things are a long time coming and yet, they manage to still surprise you? This week, we began a new adventure. Brother and sister have found their way into a public school classroom. This took us by surprise, after a summer of school planning on my part, but it is what it is, and it's going to be good. Yes, I said good.

Brother found his bottom in a chair in town because I will not spank school into my son. As for sister, I've learned that trying to school one child at home does not usually work out so well. While this has been a huge adjustment, I'm confident they are exactly where they need to be and in wonderful hands.

We have prayed and are confident God has put us on this path. I've never written a "Why We Home School" essay. I either haven't had time or simply did not care to. Yet, I find myself pondering my feelings about this new adventure and why we arrived at destination classroom. Come along for the ride into town if you like....

Creativity can only be accessed through the art of discipline. Our children need discipline. Oh, they are good kids. They help out. They are normal kids, with one exception, they think they are entitled to read four or more hours per day. We love reading and readers in our home, but other studies are important as well. Other studies that maybe don't come as easy to them. They are privileged to have spent hours each day reading and exploring creation. They have a wealth of book knowledge in their heads, but they need to apply it more. It is time for them to start taking a more active role in their own lives. Participating with others, and a schedule, in expressing the creativity that God has given them. Participation in life even when it's hard, is not fun, and requires team work.

I do not fear the public school system. God is in the public school system. He is. Present everywhere. I have seen it with my own eyes and I will not be convinced otherwise. It is time for our children to engage. We want them to connect with their community. We want them to work side by side with people who may not believe as they do and people who do believe as they do. We want them to think about what is is they think about. We want them to apply their hearts to living in the world and apply their bottoms to a chair :-)

We have strong beliefs about scripture, the Bible and living in a broken world. We want our children to stand up for what is right. But in order to live the journey that Christ has for them they must be willing to cross bridges. To debate, learn, and discuss with all God's children. Christ tells me not to "fear" men or their opinion of me. That is hard to live. We know.

We ask, are our choices motivated by fear or love? Are my motives or actions based on human reasoning at a cost to humility and trust in the Lord? We must not enshrine our children on the altar of self preservation, but teach them the Lord and encourage them to spread their wings, when it is time for them.

Time has a way of surprising us. Arriving sooner than expected for many reasons.  Am I willing to bend and trust or are we all just going to break? Jesus went out into the world, and yes, even as a child, I believe He was actively part of His community.

Sometimes our children are ready (for change) before we are ready for them to be, but I must trust God is in control and will guide their future. We fill them up with Jesus and then ask them to go live that faith. They will try and they will make some poor choices. Don't we all? How do we learn to do better but by trying and yes, unfortunately failing at times. We listen, labour, love and learn in the places He calls us to engage. For everything under heaven has a season. (Ecclesiastes 3) As a believer in Christ, there is only one right way to learn, all else is debatable. "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and discipline." (Proverbs 1:7)

My children will realize they need Christ when they realize they are missing something without Him. They will want Him more, when they see that they need Him in their daily lives in order to succeed. They live a privileged existence lacking for nothing. They need to recognize their need. I cannot assist them in doing that within the very sheltered walls of our home at this juncture in their lives. They don't need socialization in a classroom. They are quite social. They need to know what it is to be disciplined and get up early and be a student and participate in their lives and make their lunches and get their home work done and be a good friend and a good listener. Listening, loving, learning, labouring in Christ's world. It is His world, I am simply a small part of it. He is sovereign in His world.

Some will be tempted to believe we have abandoned Jesus. I abandon Him every day. So do you. Each one of us, walks away from doing the right thing and from living the right way. It is who He who never abandons us. I abandon Him every day of my life and have to come crawling back. On my knees. In humility.

Each and every home and each and every child are different. We actively work to not judge and I pray we live so much more than that. I pray those who look at my words, see someone who asks about their life and is cheering them on in their journey. We hope that will be returned.

If we would live a spirit of community, might we find the blockages to our joy removed? I am raising my children to be part of the Church, the bride of Christ. Whether they participate in the Church will be up to them. Do I believe that if we show them Jesus, that He will fulfill in them the promise that when they are old, they will not depart from it? (Proverbs 22:6) I do.

I do not know what we will be doing next year or the year after. We school our children one year at a time. Yes, we school them. They happen to go to a public school a few hours a day and we school them the rest of the time in Bible, Physics, Art, life, fishing, soccer, the sciences and Jesus.

We live this season of our lives. We pray this season of our lives. Guide us oh Lord. Help us live out Christ in the world. Let us not defame your name. Let us love our brother and not abandon your Church, even when they abandon us. You will not abandon us oh Lord.

The renewal of the Church will come from a new type of monasticism, which has only in common with the old an uncompromising allegiance to the Sermon on the Mount.  ~ Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer's mother enrolled her children in public school beginning in 3rd grade. She raised them well and then thrust them into the world, that the light of Christ would shine before men through their lives.

Amen and God help us. Live it.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Hyatt Lake, Oregon

We had a lovely weekend celebrating a birthday and fishing! 
Hyatt Lake is a great place!

Lots of laughs and fish!
We were all having too much fun to take lots of pictures. 
And some subjects were not cooperative!
Hunting, fishing, drawing and music occupied my every moment. 
Cares I knew not, and cared naught about them. 

~ John James Audubon

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Oregon Garden

We enjoyed a beautiful Tuesday at the Oregon Garden. What a lovely place!

I had hoped to walk downtown Silverton and swing into the Mt. Angel Abbey for a breath of peace, but it was not to be. That's okay.

You don't choose your family, 
they are God's gift to you, 
as you are to them.

~ Desmond Tutu

 Blessed is the servant who loves his brother  as much when he is sick and useless as when he is well and can be of service to him.  And blessed is he who loves his brother as well when he is afar off as when he is by his side, and who would say nothing behind his back he might not, in love, say before his face.  

~St Francis of Assisi

The richness I achieve comes from Nature, 
the source of my inspiration.

~ Claude Monet

There is no peace that cannot be found in the present moment.

~ Tasha Tudor

Changes are afoot around here. More details soon, but we are actively seeking peace in the present moment, and it's good.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012


In the car yesterday:

Brother: Mom, what do the signs with peoples names on them mean?

It is an election year. They want you to vote for them in November.

Brother: Who will you vote for? 

Mom: I don't know yet. I don't really like either choice. I'm ready, to just not vote.

Sister forgets her book and pipes up:

I'll tell you what! We need another Teddy Roosevelt...and that means we'd eventually get another Eleanor Roosevelt. We need an Eleanor. 

Teddy was Eleanor's uncle and she was raised by the Roosevelt family after both her parents passed away. She met future President Franklin when she was just two years old and he four years old.

Mom: Exactly.

Brother: ...and that means we'll get to sit on the roof and own a green snake. 

I had to do some research to figure out brother was talking about in regards to the roof and snake. The kids read more books than I do these days! This is what I found out:

Eleanor's Diary June 29th, 1940

Several hundred young people were sitting on the roof ready to go off in search of jobs. Job hunting in pairs is a new technique. It is easier to do when you are covering stores and factories in the neighborhood, with the idea of soliciting jobs for the whole group, for you are talking for all and not yourself alone.

Teddy Roosevelt, uncle to Eleanor, had a green snake named Emily Spinach she very much enjoyed.

Looking for a book this election year? Recommending:

Jesus for President by Shane Claiborne

Labour to keep alive in your Breast that Little Spark of 

Celestial fire Called Conscience.

~ George Washington

Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people. Learn from the mistakes of others. You can't live long enough to make them all yourself. To handle yourself, use your head; to handle others, use your heart. Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints on your heart. 

~ Eleanor Roosevelt

If only this were easy to do! 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Weekend Wanderings

Will you come with me, sweet Reader? 
 I thank you. Give me your hand. 

The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood

Friar Tucks Forest awaits...
Overheard from a green and brown clad 7 year old Robin Hood:
I'd rather be at Lego Land.
Not these two boys....
Nor, apparently these two young gents.
This is the oath of a Knight of King Arthur's Round Table and should be for all of us to take to heart. I will develop my life for the greater good. I will place character above riches, and concern for others above personal wealth, I will never boast, but cherish humility instead, I will speak the truth at all times, and forever keep my word, I will defend those who cannot defend themselves, I will honor and respect women, and refute sexism in all its guises, I will uphold justice by being fair to all, I will be faithful in love and loyal in friendship, I will abhor scandals and gossip-neither partake nor delight in them, I will be generous to the poor and to those who need help, I will forgive when asked, that my own mistakes will be forgiven, I will live my life with courtesy and honor from this day forward.

Thomas Malory
Le Morte d'Arthur: King Arthur and the Legends of the Round Table 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Pay Back Time...

I put my parents through many seasons of rain on the sidelines. I guess it's time to pay my dues. Brother had his first soccer game today and he loved it all. They lost, but they won. They really won.

I know I'm his mama, but I'm awful proud and he's a natural if you ask me!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Fish or Cut Bait

We had us a week. I cannot fully describe it, if I were to try. School formally began. We suffered school. Thank heavens for Friday.

In spite of myself, I hauled us fishing. They should have been bent over a desk this afternoon for the week we had.

We didn't catch a thing; it was 93 degrees, but we had us some sorely needed laughs.

 The phrase "rebait" rang out often. 
Sister is not willing to handle fish eggs. 
Brother obliged.

 They practised casting all afternoon. 
Surprisingly, they are quite good at it!
Nary a bite.
 A fishing fairy?
Then it was time to cool off and eat corn. Thank heavens for Friday!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Acedia, Kathleen Norris, Me and a New School Year

I'm not into depression. Don't have much patience for it. I'm more of a “I think I can, I think I can” girl. So what's a girl to do when joy ain't coming around much and she has no name for what she's experiencing?

I will ponder Acedia and Me for a long while yet. It took me a month to chew through it. Digest. Ponder. Question. Norris speaks what we do not know how to say and are so rarely willing to ponder, much less discuss. Darkness. Sin. Death. Loss. Grief. She reminds us our anger is often caring about the wrong things. Acedia? Our lack of care for the right things.

For a seed to propagate it must rupture, and in the words of the prophet Isaiah, only those who truly mourn are able to receive “a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and the mantle of praise instead of a faint spirit.” Isaiah 61:3

For grace to be grace, it must give us things we didn't know we needed and take us to places where we didn't want to go. As we stumble through the crazily altered landscape of our lives, we find that God is enjoying our attention as never before. And maybe that's the point.

I'm embracing a new tomorrow. A new school year is beginning. I'm praying to set a table morning, noon, and night for loving attentiveness to God, to my spouse, and to my children. To cultivate listening. She who listens, loves. She who loves, learns. She who learns has wings, to soar.

We need John Bunyan's pilgrim to remind us that we have access to the tools that will set us free. We need Dante to lead us through the dark wood, and beyond.

The dark wood of our souls. Humanity at its' worst in you, and in me. But there's hope. There is a gift that is useful, and there is a grief that is destructive. The first sort consists of weeping over one's own faults and weeping over the weakness of one's neighbors, in order not to destroy one's purpose, and attach oneself to the perfect good. But there is also a grief that comes from the enemy, full of mockery, which some call accidie. This spirit must be cast out, mainly by prayer and psalmody. ~ Amma Syncletica

Fear and anger stalk me on my worst days. They consume and wipe me clean of energy and joy. I become hyper aware of those who can hurt me. I desire to embrace stillness. I want to tend time. Attend time. Daily living, what needs to be done. Rising above. Living below.

Perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning “do it again” to the sun; and every evening “do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never gotten tired of making them. ~ G.K. Chesterton 

So let me embark upon this new year endeavoring to never tire of living, loving, and learning. But, when days arrive and my spirit is filled with the temptation of accidie let me remember: Prayer and love are learned in the hour when prayer has become impossible and (my) heart has turned to stone. ~ Thomas Merton

I will most certainly be filled this year, to the portion that I'm willing to be emptied out.
  Devil's Punchbowl at low tide, Oregon

Sunday, September 2, 2012


 When you're hanging on to love by a thread
cause words are sharp and rough.
Hold to the sacred.
Cleave to unity.
 Go, where waves crash loud.
Louder than the roar of men.

Sit by the rock, and
remind yourself
that when sands are shifting,
there is a Rock
to build your home on.

Proposal Rock, Neskowin Beach