Friday, May 27, 2016

From Senior to Sailor

Drake Senior @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The first year of my blog, I had a photo shoot with my nephew Drake. He was 9 years old, almost 10. Is that possible?! He was so little. Eight years later (this past October), I had the privilege of taking his senior photos.

In August he will be entering military service with the Navy, and he will be gone for many years. It breaks my heart a little that these kids grow up and start their own lives. Sniff.

[What terrifies me is that my youngest son, Leif, is 9 years old, almost ten. I’m going to blink and he will be graduating.]

Thursday, May 26, 2016

The Hero of a Novel


G.K. Chesterton is one of the most brilliant and quotable authors. His writings are often hilarious and always profound. If you’re wondering where to start, allow me to recommend his collection of short essays, In Defense of Sanity. Most of the essays are just a few pages in length and are perfect for daily or weekly digestion. They cover a variety of topics such as Chalk, What I Found in My Pocket, Running After One’s Hat, Gargoyles, Cheese, Jan Austen, and a Rotten Apple. He often begins the essay with witty laughter and builds to a theological roar.

Every essay contains multiple quotable quotes, and it is almost impossible for me to choose a favorite. The above quote comes from the essay “On Certain Modern Writers and the Institution of the Family,” which is generously underlined in my copy. He follows the above quote with this:

“The thing which keeps life romantic and full of fiery possibilities is the existence of these great plain limitations which force all of us to meet the things we do not like or do not expect… To be in a romance is to be in uncongenial surroundings. To be born into this earth is to be born into uncongenial surroundings, hence to be born into a romance. Of all these great limitations and frameworks which fashion and create the poetry and variety of life, the family is the most definite and important.”

And later:

“They say they wish to be as strong as the universe, but they really wish the whole universe as weak as themselves.”

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Oregon Coast with New Friends

New Friends @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Our whole family drove over to the coast yesterday afternoon to meet up with Brandy from Half-a-Hundred Acre Wood and her family who are currently on a tour across the states. [I was so glad Russ was able to go with us!] Because the weather was a little iffy (rainy and cool) we started out at the Hatfield Marine Science Center where the kids explored for a couple hours. [Our family had never been there before!] Brandy and I spent the whole time chatting.

We headed across the bridge to see the Yaquina Bay Lighthouse, not realizing that we were arriving just as it was closing. [I should have been more diligent about checking hours of operation!] Instead, we hiked down to the beach where the kids, despite the cool, overcast weather, proceeded to get very wet and sandy. Lola was soaked. Brandy and I spent the whole time chatting.

Oregon Coast with New Friends @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Fortuitously, the clouds parted, the sky turned blue, and the sun began to shine. By the time we made it back to the cars, it was gorgeous and quite warm. The bedraggled kids changed out of wet clothes while I snapped a few pictures of the lighthouse, bay, and bridge.

Yaquina Bay Lighthouse @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNewport Bay @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesNewport Bridge @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

It was dinner time, so we headed north to Lincoln City so our visitors could have a true Oregon Coast dining experience at Mo’s. We ate clam chowder and fish with a view of the water. Brandy and I chatted the whole time.

We ended our evening with some fresh air. The kids played. Brandy and I chatted the whole time.

The Kids @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Our family had so much fun with our new friends, and we are so happy to have met the whole Ferrell Family! I wish we lived closer so the kids could play and Brandy and I could chat the whole time. [grin]

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Food for Thought ~ Be Astonished

Food for Thought - May Edition @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Pay attention. Be astonished. Tell about it.” ~Mary Oliver

The other day my son called to me, “Mom, come look at this white flower!” Lo and behold, after we’ve lived here for almost a decade, a couple volunteer calla lily plants appeared in my hedge. They used to be my favorite flower! Astonished, indeed.

Pay attention:

:: How Drawing Can Help Improve Your Memory, According to Research @ LifeHacker

"Together these experiments indicate that drawing enhances memory relative to writing, across settings, instructions, and alternate encoding strategies, both within- and between-participants, and that a deep LoP, visual imagery, or picture superiority, alone or collectively, are not sufficient to explain the observed effect. We propose that drawing improves memory by encouraging a seamless integration of semantic, visual, and motor aspects of a memory trace."

Be astonished:

:: Fairytale Macro World by Polish Photographer Magda Wasiczek @ Bored Panda [Gorgeous!!]

And a bunch of fascinating videos to enjoy.

Watch the answer here:

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Food for Thought ~ A Storied Life

Food for Thought - A Storied Life @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

:: Art Stories: The Wounded Hero by Russ Ramsey @ The Rabbit Room

“Christ does not celebrate our strength while mocking our weakness. He picks us up in our broken condition and lives to be strong for us.”

:: Remembering What We Mean by Doug McKelvey @ The Rabbit Room

"We will see one day with such an unbroken, sacramental vision. All things. All things for the inexhaustible wonders that they hold, for the inexhaustible glories they reveal of the mind of the artist and storyteller who created them. But fairy tales, and luminous paintings, and the voices of cellos and the taste of a wild, sun-warmed blackberry or the sparkling of a chalice held aloft or the visual force and scale of a wide, windswept ocean can sometimes jar us back to that sacramental vision, even if only for a brief, precious moment."

:: Dulce Domum: The Longing for Home in Literature (and Our Hearts) by Renee Mathis @ CiRCE

"This desire for a place to call home provides one of the strongest themes for authors, poets, and artists of all kind to weave throughout their works. We may laugh at the sugary sentimentality of a glowing thatched cottage, covered in flowery vines and surrounded by a picket fence, but the desire for a place to call one’s own is no laughing matter."

:: Storied Living (or, Why Literary Criticism Trumps Self-Help) by Lindsey Brigham @ CiRCE [Most excellent!!]

“Thinking like a novelist, then, we’ll attend to the meaning by attending to setting, plot, and character. We won’t ask general questions like “What does Christ’s lordship mean for my life?”, but rather, “How, at this moment, could Christ’s lordship be communicated through the way I set the table for dinner?” (His person and reign are beautiful; set the table beautifully, with order and colors and flowers.) Not “How can I present the gospel to my coworker?”, but “What sort of character is my coworker—what are his quirks, his foibles, his virtues, his vices, his longings—and where among all this might he be met by Grace?” (For some characters, of O’Connor’s at least, Grace comes like a textbook hurled between the eyes or a serial killer’s gun in the face.) Not “How can we make Christ the center of our homeschool routine?”, but “How does the rhythm of our school-day sound out our dependence on the Lord?” (It’s a matter of actual spoken words and prayers and songs.)”

:: Are the Gospels Mythical? @ First Things

"The world’s myths do not reveal a way to interpret the Gospels, but exactly the reverse: the Gospels reveal to us the way to interpret myth."

:: Not Duffers, Won’t Drown @ First Things

"This vision of childhood, in which the role of parents is to trust children and the role of children is to keep that trust, to be honest and good and, above all, not duffers, is to me a purer, sweeter, and infinitely more potent vision than any other a child is likely to encounter in literature. As Chesterton observes in Orthodoxy, “The old fairy tale makes the hero a normal human boy; it is his adventures that are startling; they startle him because he is normal.” The world of Swallows and Amazons is a normal child’s ideal world, quiet and sheltered and kind, but full of startling and unexpected things, some of them real and some imagined."

:: 4 Reasons to Start Class With a Poem Each Day @ Edutopia

"These voices, contemporary and classic, have helped define my classroom culture to such an extent that on the rare occasion when I postpone the “Poem of the Day” until later in the class period, my students interrogate me about it."

:: Reflections on “Ask Andrew” Episode 6-Magic in Lewis and Tolkien by Jaime Showmaker @ Plumfield and Paideia

"I expected Kern to rattle off these types of standard arguments. And, while he did hint that there are different kinds of magic, he went in a totally different direction than I was anticipating. And although I was initially confused by the approach that he took, I really should not have been at all surprised that he would take us back to the place that he almost always comes home to: Jesus Christ and Homer."

:: Why I Write Scary Stories for Children by N.D. Wilson @ The Atlantic

“There is absolutely a time and a place for The Pokey Little Puppy and Barnyard Dance, just like there’s a time and a place for footie pajamas. But as children grow, fear and danger and terror grow with them, courtesy of the world in which we live and the very real existence of shadows. The stories on which their imaginations feed should empower a courage and bravery stronger than whatever they are facing. And if what they are facing is truly and horribly awful (as is the case for too many kids), then fearless sacrificial friends walking their own fantastical (or realistic) dark roads to victory can be a very real inspiration and help.”

:: Maiming or Claiming?: On Writing in Books by Nicole Mulhausen @ BookRiot

“See, there is a kind of magic that happens when we read a book. We don’t merely enter another world, but that world enters us, marks us. It seems appropriate to record the intersection, the details that make up the context of our reading.”

:: The Question to Ask When Answers Are Unclear @ The Gospel Coalition [So many ways to apply this one in any subject.]

“What do I know to be true?”

:: Teaching Reading ~ The Detour @ Classical Academic Press

"Like Martha in Luke 10:41–42, we Christian classical educators are “anxious and troubled about many things.” So, like Martha, we must be reminded that “one thing is necessary.” Before we are careful about identifying phonograms or introducing new vocabulary words, we must first place our students at the feet of stories or poems—indeed, at the feet of language itself—and help to awaken a sense of what the philosopher Josef Pieper calls receptive openness or attentive silence. That is to say, we must help our students to choose, like Mary, that good portion that will not be taken away from them."

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Awakening Wonder

True, Good, and Beautiful @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

As I mentioned in my last education post, I have a stack of books in front of me that have informed and are informing my educational philosophy, particularly as I plan for this coming year. I will be sharing several quotes and important concepts from each in the next few posts, but I want to start with Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness & Beauty. This is a dense book that was difficult for me to read and understand, but it contains beautiful truths that are vital in our lives. I will need to read it several more times through in order to grasp most of them. For now this summary quote is greatly impacting my contemplation of my role as a teacher in the lives of my children:

Thus, we must ask ourselves: Are we presenting music and mathematics, Beauty and symmetry, as inseparable? Do we teach our students to see athletic skill as an embodiment of control over chaos and thus exemplative of the processes of creation? Do our science classes teach that discovery of the workings of the world not only gives us knowledge but awakens us to the awe and wonder of the Incarnation itself? Do our history classes present the totality of history as an eschatological narrative from Garden to city, from creation to communion, from water to wine? Do our Bible classes present theology as rooted in philokalia, the love of Beauty? Do we teach our students that there is something extraordinary about the imagio Dei, that we yearn for a meaning and a purpose outside of ourselves, that we long for a Beauty that awakens us from our self-centered slumbers, that our hearts ache for a life filled with wonder and awe? Are we cultivating an insatiable desire in our students to encounter the True, the Good, and the Beautiful in a life-transforming way, a way that enables our souls to reach for and embrace a state of being than which none greater can possibly be thought?