Saturday, May 31, 2014

Me Made May 2015

This is a repost of the one I lost, but here is a collection of my photos from Me Made May 2015, hosted by "So, Zo..."

May 1-Arlington, Virginia
Details on my creatively mended jacket.

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May 9-Patrick Henry College and "Lake Bob" while bringing my son home from college 
Details on my mystery blouse...forthcoming

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May 10-Mother's Day, outside our church
Details on a skirt for me and a skirt for my daughter.

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May 17-my daughter's graduation from junior college, taken outside the restaurant where we celebrated in Centreville, VA
Details on my tropical flower dress.

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May 24-near the peonies outside our house
Details on my dress.

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May 24-at Ben Lomond Historic Site
Details on my mystery blouse forthcoming...

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May 31-hmmm, not the best lighting in our house
Details on my mystery blouse and skirt forthcoming...

May 31

May 31-on our way to Arlington National Cemetery 
Details on my mystery shorts forthcoming...

May 24 Arlington

Friday, May 30, 2014

Clarence Thomas: My Grandfather's Son

One of the books my son and I read for our 20th century studies last year was the autobiography, Clarence Thomas: My Grandfather's Son. I remember when I first heard of him, when he was going through the Congressional hearings in regards to President George H. W. Bush's appointing him to the Supreme Court to replace Thurgood Marshall. Thomas' story is a must read!

As always with our classical studies, I integrated the reading of various portions of the book to coordinate with the era of history we were learning.  Bit by bit, an entire chunk of a "big person book" is easily accomplished!

Since the book began with Thomas' life as a boy in the late 1950's, we picked up the reading of this book during our study of the Eisenhower years. As Thomas grew up, we learned about the strong work ethic he learned from his grandfather, as well as lessons about keeping to his own side of town, due to danger from racial tensions. Because Thomas is an African-American who grew up in the Deep South, we gained personal insight into the difficulties he and other African-Americans faced. As we progressed through our weekly studies of each president of the late 20th century, we added the appropriate pages of the book where Thomas grew up, attended college, and began a legal practice during which  he shared how he formed his political opinions, which was understandably driven greatly by the Civil Rights movement.

Then we entered the Reagan years. By now we had learned that Thomas, through great thinking of the cause and effect of the Civil Rights movement, as well as starting to read from the classics of the Great Books list, he changed his opinion of the Civil Rights movement. (Despite your political affilliation, do read his book to read his own words and thought process of how he came to this decision.)  In fact, he became a Republican just to vote for Ronald Reagan. Soon he was in Washington DC working for the Reagan administration for the Civil Rights department where he effected change and phenomenally increased efficiency.

During the George H. W. Bush administration, the president appointed him to be a federal judge and later to the Supreme Court. Thomas shares he did not fight for these positions. He endured strong opposition against him. Nevertheless he shares how he worked through all the drama to eventually become the next Supreme Court justice in 1991.

I highly recommend this book!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend at Arlington National Cemetery

It was with heavy heart that I dragged myself away church yesterday feeling empty.  The church did not have a Memorial Day service.  How could they not? 
Our church back home in San Antonio, Texas always had a huge Memorial Service, complete with the choir wearing patriotic colors singing the Service Songs Medly, and also singing a powerful choral rendition of Battle Hymn of the Republic. We also had the color guard from the local military school present the flags. All vets were asked to wear their uniforms to the service and stand when their anthem was sung. Quite often there were also special solos and I'm sure the pastor had a special message. We did all of this for the Fourth of July and Veteran's Day church services as well. The music pastor's father was a Navy vet, so he completely understood the sacrifice our service members make in giving their lives for our country. 
Some of our military members return home, hopefully to much appreciation. Others never do return home because they gave the ultimate sacrifice for us to have our freedoms today.  How can a church not have a Memorial Day service? We have freedom of religion today because of those who risked their lives in the defense of our nation.
Christian singer Michael W. Smith has been posting on his facebook account the following verse this weekend in recognition of Memorial Day: "Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends." John 15:13 Those are our loved ones and friends who have gone to serve our country, some never to return home again.  How can we forget them? We mustn't. My family won't.
After church we went to Arlington National Cemetery to remember those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for our freedoms today.  When we went to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, we saw not only the changing of the guard, but for the first time ever we also saw a wreath laying ceremony and heard the playing of "Taps." I was in tears.  Thank you to all who served.  I am so very humbled and thankful to all who put themselves in harm's way and died in service to our country.

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Memorial Day began shortly after the Civil War as Decoration Day, after those sad years when brother fought brother when flowers were put on the graves of those who died in the war. Whereas Veteran's Day is to remember all who have served, Memorial Day specifically remembers those who died in harms' way. Of course we want to instinctively remember even the living vets on this day, but I have heard more than one humbly submit that this day is for his/her buddy who died by their side in battle. It is a day set aside for us to remember that our freedoms are not free. Our freedoms came at prodigious cost. We must never take our freedoms for granted.
Here is a beautifully poignant Memorial Day message and prayer from one of my all-time favorite pastors and Bible teachers, Chuck Swindoll, who himself is a Marine vet.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Waiting no more for Godot

Because of an enormously busy school year, I have gotten quite a bit behind in blogging, but yes! We read Waiting for Godot for literature this year! This play, published in 1948, was confusion to my dauaghter and me when we first read it four years ago. We were using a different curriculum at the time, which told us that the play was about nothing, and they are right, it is. Although I agreed with everything the curriculum said about the play, nothing they said shed light on the meaning of the play. 
Then we went to Colonial Willliamsburg and visited a program called "The Actor's Trunk" where the 18th century actors of Playbooth Theater share their props, programs, paintings, and other such paraphernalia.  I forget exactly what I asked, but it was something pre-18th century, which led to a discussion of Comedia dell'Arte, which I wasn't quite familiar with. While discussing Comedia dell'Arte, he gave several examples of stock characters, a few of which were the characters of Waiting for Godot!  Suddenly the play made more sense! Then the actor and my daughter got into quite a lengthy discussion of Waiting for Godot.  My daughter obviously picked up far more in her reading than I did! 
Well four years later, it was my son's turn to read Waiting for Godot. Because we were so busy I considered dumping the book, then I saw that it would be on his reading list for college. Waiting for Godot is on the Great Books list.
This time I was writing my own literature curriculum, basically by drawing from others'  expertise that I found on the internet and in person.  I definitely drew on everything I could possibly remember from the Playbooth Theater actor when I presented this play to my son. Also this time I read the introduction in the book, which our previous curriculum always told us *not* to do because their take was better. After all the stumbling my daughter and I did doing things their way, my son and I enjoyed a much clearer path reading the book introductions and talking to others.
Then I remembered how the Folger's Theater (the Shakespeare library and center of study in Washington DC) has always said that a play reads so much better when performed, than when read silently.  I did a bit of googling and brought up various you tubes of Waiting for Godot being performed for my son and I to watch and analyze. This was quite interesting and brought the book to life...at least for me. My son simply couldn't wait to read the play for himself by himself! He's that kind of kid, but if we had it to do again, I'd have my daughter follow along while watching a performance, since she struggled a bit more in school. Now that I think about it (as I type this) I'm suddenly remembering that because of her reading struggles back then, I subscribed to audible and downloaded all the books she had to read for 20th century literature.  Perhaps that is why she understood the play better than I did. She heard a performance of it and I did not. I read it silently to myself and was totally bored out of my gourd...suffering through each meaningless statement.
After my son finished reading the play, we discussed it. It is a play about nothing. We did discuss that in light to the 20th century worldview.  However held in light to Comedia dell'Arte, it made so much more sense and was even funny. I grew up on reruns of Laurel and Hardy and other variety shows that employ stock characters from Comedia dell'Arte. As I read Waiting for Godot this time, I imagined the lead characters being portrayed by Laurel and Hardy and then it became quite funny!
Speaking of funny, my son and I agreed that Sesame Street's Monsterpiece Theater version of Waiting for Godot outdid all the other theatrical versions we watched! Enjoy!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Learning about Oliver North as we Studied the Reagan Years

My key choice for reading material during our study of the Reagan years in my son's senior year was Oliver North's autobiography, Under Fire: An American Story.  This was in fact my second time to read the book so I knew my son would enjoy it. I remember watching the Iran-Contra hearings with my family the summer of 1987. Before I knew what primary source documents were, I was heavily influenced by watching a primary source document unfold in front of my eyes and thousands more Americans, instead of relying on biased media.  As we watched hour after hour of grueling redundantly pointless questioning that dangerously unveiled to the public national secrets and endangered lives, many in America formed their opinion. As a result thousands of people stood outside the hearings to cheer North on. Thousands of telegrams of support poured in to support him as well.

Through the book we learn of North's background and of his education at the Naval Academy, which was delayed due to various severe injuries from a traffic accident. One of his hospital mates was future Dallas Cowboy Roger Staubach! North tells about how he became a Christian.We learned of his service in Vietnam where he earned several medals, including two Purple Hearts. 

Because of the time frame covered, we kept to our classical education goals by reading this 400+ page tome in parts. For example we read about his Academy and Vietnam years when we studied the 1960's-70's, then we saved the years he served with the National Security Council when we studied the 1980's.


The drama builds as we read of his assignment to the National Security Council where he worked to coordinate counter-terrorism (whle learning on the go) and often helping to rescue American captives in the process. During the Cold War the ultimate war was to fight Communism and work with then present allies.

Through it all, North shares that despite the precarious situation he was placed in, he will always be greatful that President Reagan fought communism and ultimately ended it. Because of Reagan, North relates, the world became a safer place for his children...for us...and for all.

Nevertheless he had to face Congress. North vividly recreates the frustrating scene in his book. Wanting to prove the intensity of the drama, I found some video clips to show my son. The descriptions were spot on to my memory and the details of the book. 

Here is one from C-Span July 7, 1987.

Here is one from the next day, July 8, 1987

While North awaited the results of the later trial, his pastor read from North's well-worn Bible, that had traveled from Tehran to trial:
"Surely He will save you from the fowler's snare
     and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with His feathers,
     and under His wings you will find refuge;
     His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart." -Psalm 91

Today Oliver North is the author of 13 New York Times' best sellers, including personal stories of military heroes as well as spy novels! He's also a professional speaker to private groups. He can also be seen on Fox hosting his series, "War Stories."

Military Tatoo-Part IV Drummers Call 2014 CW

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

May Gardens at Colonial Williamsburg

It's been such a busy summer, I still haven't shared all of my photos of our visit to Colonial Williamsburg last May.  Even though the kids are now in college and I should have extra time, I've been too sad about not homeschooling anymore to be motivated to do much with the blog. But now that autumn is about to descend upon Virginia, perhaps show off the pictures of spring.
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