Day By Day

"Sweet and Low" by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Years ago one of my favorite hymns became “Day by Day and With Each Passing Moment.” Since this was in the pre-Internet era, my future friends Google and Wiki weren’t around to provide a quick biography, but I imagined the hymn writer, Carolina Sandell Berg, was likely a busy mom as I was. Perhaps she had penned these words while rocking her youngest to sleep one night at the end of a weary day of caring for her brood. Because, of course, this song was one that I sometimes sang as I put a little one to sleep.

1. Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear.
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best--
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

I came to love the verse referenced in the second stanza, “As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,” which comes from Moses’ blessing to the tribe of Asher in Deuteronomy 33:25: "Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be" (KJV).

2. Ev'ry day the Lord Himself is near me
With a special mercy for each hour;
All my cares He fain would bear, and cheer me,
He whose name is Counselor and Pow'r.
The protection of His child and treasure
Is a charge that on Himself He laid;
"As thy days, thy strength shall be in measure,"
This the pledge to me He made.

Matthew Henry says that this verse is a promise which also applies to all the spiritual seed of Abraham, and that:
God will wisely proportion their graces and comforts to the services and sufferings he calls them out to. Have they work appointed them? They shall have strength to do it. Have they burdens appointed them? They shall have strength to bear them; and never be tempted above that they are able. Faithful is he that has thus promised, and hath caused us to hope in this promise.

Much later I learned that my speculation on Miss (yes, not Mrs.) Berg’s life had fallen pretty far from the mark. Here's the true story, with thanks to another one of my newer friends, Hymnopedia. Paralyzed when she was 12, Carolina (Lina) Sandell Berg became a woman of great faith. Fourteen years later she was taking a trip with her pastor father when the boat they were on lurched, causing her father to be thrown overboard and drowned. Among the fourteen hymns that came from her pen in response to her grief is "Day by Day." Though Lina’s difficulties and toils were so different than mine, our needs are very much the same. Praise God that He daily provides for His children exactly what we need -- including strength as each day requires.

3. Help me then in eve'ry tribulation
So to trust Thy promises, O Lord,
That I lose not faith's sweet consolation
Offered me within Thy holy Word.
Help me, Lord, when toil and trouble meeting,
E'er to take, as from a father's hand,
One by one, the days, the moments fleeting,
Till I reach the promised land.

Co-op Book Club, 2013-2014 (Part II)

Book Club semester II, 2013-1014

See Part I here

Book Club 2012-2013 here

Our co-op is called Learning Around the World, and our literature selections from various locales reflect that theme. During the second semester we read books which took place in Spain, India, North Africa, and an oceangoing adventure. 

January: Stories of Don Quixote (James Baldwin) 

You've heard the saying, "Tilting at Windmills." But do you (and your children) know what this peculiar phrase means and where it originated? Even if you do, you should check out this retelling of Cervantes' Don Quixote written for children by James Baldwin.

James Baldwin (1841-1925) was a Hoosier teacher, author and editor who wrote numerous books for children on everything from mythology to biography to literature. According to The Baldwin Project, at one time about half the books used in U.S. schools were either written or edited by Mr. Baldwin. We enjoyed  Stories of Don Quixote, a highly readable version for children.

For something different, our Book Club activity for this selection was a dramatization of two of the chapters in the book, "The Adventure of the Monks" and "The Lost Helmet." Each of the families had brought costumes and props that we thought might be helpful, and we cobbled together outfits for all the characters. Our Book Club lead mom wrote a script based on these selections and modified to fit the number of boys (6) and girls (2) in our group, and then the kids performed it as a readers' theatre for another group of children.

Coach with two lovely princesses in need of rescue (or not!)

Don Quixote (before he sadly lost his helmet)

Even with a very short time for rehearsal, the kids pulled off a nice performance, and the audience enjoyed Cervantes' humor in these vignettes.

February: Carry On, Mr. Bowditch (Jean Lee Latham) 

This month we read the 1956 Newbery winner, Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. This book tells the inspiring true story of Nathaniel Bowditch, a mostly self-taught navigator and mathematician whose seminal book The American Practical Navigator is still in print  more than 200 years after it was first published.  
As the children entered class, they heard sea chanties playing, and then they settled in for a good discussion of the book, talking about some of the characteristics that helped Nat to achieve his goals even when events seemed to conspire against him. Who (or what) was the antagonist? the children debated among themselves. Was it nature?  Nevil Maskelyne who had an alternative method for calculating longitude at sea? Clouds which made taking lunar calculations so difficult? (This is the kind of discussion that seems to happen almost without any prompting as time goes on and the kids get used to thinking about these kinds of questions. It is pretty exciting watching them argue for their point of view and sometimes changing their opinions to something they hadn't thought about previously. )

Anyway, after sitting for a while, it was time for some action, so we moved to the gym. Our church's gym (aka sanctuary) conveniently has a concrete floor which is laid out in a large grid pattern. Perfect for a game of "Longitude/Latitude!"  

For each round, one child was "it" and they were blindfolded. Quickly the other children took a blanket which represented an island and moved it to some location in the gym. The goal for "It" was to find the island before time (3 minutes) was up. The child was told the latitude of the island, but not the longitude. The child started by encountering a hurricane (spinning by an adult) and then set off. Every time he or she reached a different latitude (one of the horizontal lines), the rest of the kids would shout the number of the latitude. However, somewhere on the same latitude as the island, a pirate was waiting. The pirate was not allowed to move from his spot, but he could reach out and try to tag the sailor before he reached the island. If the sailor was tagged, he had to eat hardtack. (One of our sailors ended with a bloody mouth from the very HARDtack.) If the sailor successfully reached the island, he was able to enjoy a treat of oranges.

Extra: For adults, a wonderful, short book to go with this study is Longitude by Dava Sobel. And a children's book which tells the same story is Sea Clocks: The Story of Longitude by Louise Borden.        

March: Just So Stories and Rikki-Tikki-Tavi (Rudyard Kipling)

Everyone read "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi", but the children were able to choose which Just So Stories they read. This made discussion a bit different, and we focused Kipling's background plus some of the characteristics we saw in Kipling's writing, especially his wonderfully creative use of language and his delightful characters. 
Then we had the joy of having a beloved woman in our congregation talk to the children about her experiences growing up in India in the mid-20th century. She had fascinating stories and objects to show the kids, and she was also able to tell us about a fellow classmate of hers who has gone on to become a world-renowned snake expert. Snakes were much on our minds after reading Rikki-Tikki-Tavi!

After reading Kipling, we challenged the children to write and illustrate their own Just-So-Like stories which they brought to later co-op meetings. Each one incorporated aspects of Kipling's style and were delightful to hear. One of the moms assembled all of the tales into a book she titled Just Like Just So Stories and reproduced for each student as a keepsake.

April: Star of Light (Patricia St. John) and Book Club Finale 

Patricia St. John was a missionary in Morocco for many years. When her mother's health began to fail, she returned to England to care for her, and she found time to write many books for a young audience. Many of my children have greatly enjoyed Miss St. John's fiction, and Star of Light is no exception.

Because of the Christian themes of this book, the children discussed how an author goes about writing an evangelistic story. Where did she succeed and where did she miss the mark? Interesting thoughts from the readers!

Instead of doing activities based solely on this book, our Book Club mom crafted a brilliant treasure hunt which served as a review of ALL the books from the past two years of Book Club. She had the children solving crazy riddles and puzzles, running in and out of the church, and generally putting their noggins to work to reach the final goal.
Putting heads together

To read each clue the kids had to solve a puzzle based on one of the books

He's trying to retrieve a key from a bowl of water - no hands allowed

The group consensus? Book Club was so much fun, we should continue during the summer! So we are meeting twice over these months. I'll post on those events in a month or so!

Co-op Book Club 2013-2014 (Part I)

Liquid nitrogen -water volcano/ Krakatoa simulation.
Book? William Pene du Bois' Twenty-One Balloons, of course!

We've had another year of rip-roaring good learning with our homeschool co-op. Twice a month we've been studying world geography and learning about the history of cartography with the fantabulous Mapping the World With Art curriculum. Maybe some day I'll do a full review of that program. It definitely ranks as the best new (to me at any rate) homeschool resource I've seen in a long time.

But as terrific as the Mapping program is, I think pretty much everyone's favorite co-ops were our monthly Book Club days. I posted here about what we read and did last year.  We followed a similar format this year with the kids who ranged from 9-13.  And again the younger children also had Book Club weeks using Five in a Row materials. My friend, Heather U., led Book Club for the older ones and came up with all the terrific ideas I'm about to describe.

Each child read the book selection at home or listened to it read by a parent or audio reader. We began each session with a discussion about the book. Heather usually would bring in some interesting information about the author and his or her background. Animated conversations almost always took place as the kids talked about why they did or didn't like a particular book, about how the author handled Christian themes, and much more. It's thrilling to watch the energy that comes when a group of young people have read the same book and want to talk about what they have experienced. If you try this, be patient at first. But as the kids become more familiar with one another and how to talk about books, I think you'll find they really get into it. Often an hour easily passes in this part of co-op.

And then we move on to book related activities! This is so much fun! (OK, I'll grant you, part of the reason I love this so much is that I get to go along for the ride, but I don't have a part in the planning and preparation!) Here's a look at what we've done this past school year:

September: Twenty-One Balloons, William Pene du Bois

Starting off with a bang, and to tie in with our geography theme, we read The Twenty-One Balloons, a hilarious book which takes place on Krakatoa and ends with a cataclysmic eruption.

But my youngest sons are going to forever link this book in their minds with blowing up trashcans full of water. Because, thanks to one of the chemistry professor fathers, we had a large flask of liquid nitrogen to play around with. Liquid N2 is super cold (it boils at −321 °F) and super cool to experiment with.

Liquid N2 (inside 2l bottle)  + warm water (trashcan) → KABLAM!!!

We knew this Book Club was going to be hard to follow

 (Google "liquid nitrogen trashcan rocket" for info if you want to replicate this.) 

What to do with extra liquid N2? We scrambled around for ice cream ingredients and came up with coffee creamer and chocolate syrup. Instantly frozen with the liq. nitrogen - delicious!

For this month, we split our Book Club into boys and girls. The girls read Maud Hart Lovelace's sweet tale of friendship at the turn of the last century, Betsy-Tacy. For Book Club they dressed up and had a lovely tea party.

  Girls - Betsy-Tacy (Maud Hart Lovelace)

 Boys - Red Hugh Prince of Donegal (Robert T. Reilly)

The boys enjoyed a more violent tale, Red Hugh: Prince of Donegal, which tells the true story of Red Hugh O'Donnell and his daring escape from Dublin Castle. The boys watched Disney's version of the tale and ate popcorn, not at all daintily.

November: House of Arden (E. Nesbit) 

E. Nesbit wrote some of the most laugh-out-loud hilarous fantasy books ever. The House of Arden involves time travel, and the reader will do best when he either knows his British history or has access to a resource such as Our Island Story (H. E. Marshall.)

In search for a lost family treasure, Edred Arden and his sister, Elfrida, step back into different eras with the help of a little creature called a Mouldiwarp.

To summon the crotchety Mouldiwarp, the children have to create poems such as this one:

"Arden, Arden, Arden,
Lawn and castle and garden;
Daisies and grass and wallflowers gold–
Mouldiwarp, come out of the mould."

(Edred and Elfrida aren't the best poets you've ever read.)

The challenge for our Book Club members? Write a poem to summon the Mouldiwarp.

I'm sorry to say I didn't collect the results, but I can tell you they were every bit as amusing as the ones in the book. And I have never seen 9-12 year olds, particularly boys, so excited about composing poetry.              

That's what kept us busy during the fall. Look for Part II (spring semester) coming soon and Part III (summer) in a month or so.

Grand Beauties!

Sweet grandgirls recently at Spring Mill State Park

Beauty #3 with Auntie Faith (who's lovely, too!)

But then...

... a little encounter with a mud puddle

Two Sweet Annies in the Spring Mill Pioneer Garden

Morning Prayer

Yesterday was quite a day – a botched paint job (as Tim kindly put it:”Painting isn't your gifting, dear”) - a 16th birthday – friends for dinner – a car accident with one of our teen drivers totaling his car– unavoidable meetings in the evening meaning I never even saw one of our guests. Crazy, crazy day.

Each day has it's own troubles; there's no telling what today will bring. Here's a morning prayer I found recently in the 1928 Book of Common Prayer. Oh, may I do His will this day with cheerfulness.

O God, the King eternal, who dividest the day from darkness, and turnest the shadow of death into the morning; 

Drive far off from us all wrong desires, incline our hearts to keep thy law, and guide our feet into the way of peace; that having done thy will with cheerfulness while it was day, we may, when the night cometh, rejoice to give thee thanks; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

Quiet Morning in the Garden

Nasturtiums flowers- add a bit of spice to a salad!

Whew! I don't know why I always think summer will be more relaxed than the school year. Seems I'm always taken by surprise by all the craziness incumbent upon our summer schedule, and older children's needs require more out-of -the house time than this home-loving woman would otherwise choose. In the past few days I've been to Chicago (visiting friends post-surgery and son doing internship), Bean Blossom (Blue Grass festival date with Tim) and Columbus (piano competition.) I'm not complaining - it's all been very good!

But today I was able to stay home, chilling in the herb garden. Or maybe not exactly chilling on this very warm day. But something like that.

First off - some mint extract.  The idea is to extract the mint oils into the vodka in a similar manner as in making vanilla from fresh beans.

- mint leaves (enough to fill pint jar)- washed, patted dry, & crushed between hands

- vodka to cover

Steep 1-2 months. Strain out leaves.

Recently we also made mint-chocolate chip cookies with fresh mint. Here you extract the mint oils into butter, which gives a lovely fresh taste to the cookies. I used this recipe, but I think you could do the same with any chocolate chip cookie recipe.

We also decided to give elderflower vinegar a test run. I love making and using various vinegars especially raspberry and currant. We'll know in a couple of months if this is one we'll be adding to our repertoire.

Cooking with fresh herbs is a delight, but I also like to preserve some for the seasons when they aren't available. Parsley, I've found, can be frozen into parsley logs and then used a slice or two at a time.

Parsley log: Simply harvest leaves, wash, dry, and then put into a zip lock bag, squeezing them down into a log at the bottom of the bag. Roll up from the bottom, squeezing out the air as you go. Secure log with rubber bands and freeze. Because the parsley is packed tightly, you don't need a large slice to give you a big punch. 

 Check out the slideshow in this link for step-by-step instructions on making a parsley log. I made several last summer and found they made a great way to add fresh tasting parsley to soups and other dishes throughout the year.

Lastly I dehydrated some thyme, oregano, pineapple sage, and basil.

...therefore faint not

“For a close, remember this, that your life is short, your duties many, your assistance great, and your reward sure; therefore faint not, hold on and hold up, in ways of well-doing, and heaven shall make amends for all.”

― Thomas Brooks, Precious Remedies Against Satan's Devices , 1652