Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Out and about

After a bit of snow last weekend, we have enjoyed more walks this week. We live on a state highway, but just opposite an industrial road that leads to a country road. So the sights and smells of farm life are not far away...but far enough away to not be offensive.

Suby, Sammy, Giddy and Noah pause in front of an old barn. This was a day for road kill: we spied a dead chipmunk (appeared to be natural causes), a dead turkey (appeared to have hit someone's windshield), but could not locate the dried snake we have been observing earlier this week.

Out looking for the beaver we saw this week. After running a few minutes, Giddy paused to ask for help, "I have shoes in my rocks."

Ben helps with a re-tread.

Back at home, Sammy gets our ducks in a row. We gave them access to our main garden, which has not yet been planted, except for the snow peas we planted about a month ago around the perimeter. Too late did we realize the ducks had helped with planting... the 4 inch high peas ... in their BELLIES. We figured they'd be so happy with the center of the space, they wouldn't discover them. Wrong.

Best $20 we ever spent...this model is powered by Mountain Dew, which is a little more expensive than gas, but it uses less. At the Klein house, they are waiting in line for their turn to use this thing!

Sammy has a ABC chart with a family photo on the back, so he can get the names and faces of the siblings straight as he learns to write. Today, he decided to do a self portrait, and we noticed him working dilligently to get all the details just right (in his 5 year old eyes). He shed a few tears while trying to get the eyes right. It looked so realistic...

...until he added the finishing touch!

The institutionalization of homeschooling

It's catalog season!

We have been getting big fat glossy ones lately! It used to be just flimsy, thin, modest (but often helpful) newsprint catalogs, but now big companies are sending us several hefty catalogs. Today we received one that's over 100 pages, full of Christian school textbooks. We have no beef against Christian school text books, as we have seen quite excellent ones, and we own several which our children have enjoyed reading in their spare time.

However, the cover reads "Total Homeschool Solutions," and there is no introduction text in the catalog...just color coded sections to point you to what your child needs at every grade level.

Homeschooling has attracted attention from the "experts" and once you are on the right mailing list, you are now deluged with all manner of packaged programs, guaranteed to be easy, require little or no work from parents (????), and help children to perform well on standardized tests.

Its ironic, because the thing that attracts many parents to homeschooling (the astounding academic performance of the 80's) was largely attained by families with little or NO access to all the new products, merely a calling they felt from the Lord.

"Are ye so foolish?
having begun in the Spirit,
are ye now made perfect in the flesh?"
Galatians 6:3

Yes, homeschooling included the ingredients of education success... parental involvement, low student-teacher ratio, and freedom from the limitations of the sterile classroom environment.

However, the parents didn't know that...MOST of them simply took their children out of school because of BIBLICAL convictions, seeking first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, believing that all these things would be added unto them. And that happened, but it wasn't what they were seeking first.

The sidebar note pointing to a message by Jonathan Lindvall is really powerful in illustrating this and other important considerations for parents. Are we seeking first HIS kingdom, which is not of this world, nor its standardized tests? We sincerely hope all you homeschoolers have taken time to check out this important message and history lesson which Jonathan has shared.

TECH NOTE: We are switching servers (WHATEVER THAT MEANS) so our main site, inkleinations.com, will be down for a day or so.

Sioux Falls conference report

We had a great time in Sioux Falls and met some neat folks, as well as catching up with good friends from our tenure in Luverne, Minnesota. Regrettably, we forgot our (still) camera, so I am not posting any pictures.

Dave's talks, College Considerations for Christians, and Education of Kings (Bible copy) drew small but interested crowds.

Dave was very rushed for time going into this weekend. His client permits him to work in advance of taking time off, so he can still get his hours in. This is a big BLESSING. But it left almost no time to make up slides or handouts for his talk. However, the thoughts have been on his heart for years. So he shared a combination of real life examples (from believers from the past, as well as more modern day examples) and scriptures that would seem to be relevant. Especially those pertaining to the priority of SERVANTHOOD.

There is a big emphasis among some in the "homeschool movement" (a term we use with reservation) on training children to be leaders. But Jesus said the path to leadership is SERVANTHOOD.

"But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
And whoever shall exalt himself shall be abased;
and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted."
Matt 23:11

Zak's talk went well, but as he admits, it was with much fear and trembling on his part. His topic was "Missionaries and Martyrs" and included sharing a few songs on the topic, which all the kids helped with. We have been blessed to find lots of excellent resources, old and new, regarding the lives of believers who sought to live their faith. Many of these saints have been almost forgotten since they had little celebrity status. To read of the struggles and hardships they faced, and the acceptance and peace with which they met them...that is something that we feel best builds up our children. And as Zak pointed out, it adds context to geography, history, social studies, etc. So, the kids also compiled a resource list to share, with books, video, and audio stuff which our family has enjoyed.

I enjoyed giving a couple of talks too, sharing what the Lord has been teaching us as a family and me in particular. We feel that since we are still very much in the middle of our parenting careers, the Lord willing, we should try to mostly share things in a testimonial way. We are still learning.

It was neat to see people checking out the displays and taking literature from our table in the exhibit area. We didn't have it manned this time, as the stuff is free anyway, but occasionally camped out to visit with folks.

It was our great joy to learn that the brother heading up the conference has started his family doing Bible copy, after having read Education of Kings on our site! They spend 2 hours a day on this. We know the Lord will multiply their usefulness to His kingdom as they put first things first and sharpen those arrows! Way to go!

A week after the conference, we received a request for 5 copies of EOK, and we assumed it was someone we met in Sioux Falls, but the address was in TEXAS! We have also gotten neat letters and requests from: Washington, California, Kansas, North Carolina, Florida, Wisconsin (of course) and a request from a brother who serves orphans in Guatemala!

Saturday, April 26, 2008

They've gotta learn sometime...

We were working on our Saturday chores this morning, and Abi went to the kitchen to make some cocoa for Gideon (3). Gideon had been in the boys' room with Sammy (5) and they were doing their shoe organization chore. However, when Gideon realized his cocoa was ready, he bailed out and headed to the kitchen, with Sammy on his tail.

"Gideon is supposed to be helping with the shoe shelf job," Sammy informed Abi.

Abi absent-mindedly told Sammy, "He is just going to have his cocoa now, and then he can do it."

"But if he has his cocoa, he won't want to come back and finish the job," Sammy explained.

Suddenly, it clicked with Abi, and she realized the IMPORTANT goal Sammy had for his brother. So she and the boys went back to the room and got the shoes done, with the promise of cocoa awaiting the job's completion. Abi was very impressed with Sammy's budding parenting skills.

The ticks are in bloom, and we have three mounted on our "here-ticks" display card. Each tick is documented with: person bitten, person who spotted the tick, type of tick and date found. Joanna found the tick on her eyelid, but Sarah found the tick on Susanna's forehead. Tomorrow we may have snow, which may knock off a few mosquitos, but ticks don't really mind a few flakes.

Yesterday, we enjoyed having the family over to our house for dinner, with their Grandma E and Auntie Laura. We met them at last year's Wisconsin homeschool conference. Their sweet boys are 7, 4 and 1, and Jay has started teaching the family "a verse a day" . They are having great times with that. Boy, we wish we had started that early with our kids!

We hope to soon post photos of the bus interior (since we finished the seats). We forgot to bring our still camera to Sioux Falls, so didn't get any photos of that event. We did get lots of video footage (is digital video footage or ???) -- mostly of Klein kids talking in funny voices.

How are the ducks, you ask? They are fine -- fun to watch, content, quiet, fluffy. They avoid us like the plague.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Great time!

We made it home after a wonderful four-day (+) trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. We are very thankful for our hosts, the Tauberts, who transformed their spacious home into a spacious hotel for us! The conference was really nicely done, and we met alot of wonderful families. It was nice meeting Kevin Swanson, who had been at a previous homeschool conference in Mexico. We got to chat about Mexico a little with him, which we always enjoy.

We decided to not bring any sweaters or jackets, as the weather sounded very spring-like. Bad decision, Mommy! It was spring-like -- WINDY. But we surivived, and things did warm up. Now at home, it is VERY spring like. I have swallowed my first insect, so spring is here!

May the Lord bless and guide us all as we seek to train our children to love and serve HIM!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Getting ready for Sioux Falls!

We are trying to get our ducks in a row (which is no exaggeration), among other things, for our trip to Sioux Falls this weekend. Very busy. First step to every trip is to clean and do laundry and organize so we can FIND stuff we need to bring! That is what we are doing. Everyone is very excited, and we have tons to do.

Last week, we had torrential rain, and afterwards noticed that our window caulking job on the bus was not up to standard, so we had alot of water in the bus. Unrelated to that, we had our first incident of basement flooding. So, as friend Lauren aptly said, when it rained, it poured. We redid the caulking, and our next batch of rain should hit us here by tomorrow mid-morning. Lord willing, we will be on our way before then, so we can have a dry trip! We will see.

Ducks are doing fine, and have made very little impact on our life thus far (that is, they are no hassle). We will probably keep them and look forward to a drastically reduced mosquito population. After things slow down, we will work on building them a better duck house and surrounds. During out weekend away, we are putting in a small wading pool, which we expected will be much appreciated (if ducks are capable of that emotion, doubtful).

Everyone is very excited, as mentioned, and we are looking forward to a great weekend of good fellowship and encouragement!

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Sweat equity

We have been attacking our to do list (current sidebar somewhere), and wanted to post some photos.

Here is Solomon working on creating a little retaining wall to parallel our gravel driveway. There was a new well installed on the property before we moved in, and they left tons of sand, and we have been trying to grow grass here ever since. Otherwise, the sand ends up in the house. The railroad ties were already on the property, so he is just moving them into place. Gideon is watching and admonishing Solomon, "Be careful!"

Once we had the retaining wall set up, the girls and little boys worked on transporting and installing sod along the perimeter (along the railroad ties) so we could get some head start on the lawn we hope will grow. Here is Joanna, carving out a sod-block-shaped trench, and Sammy, not doing anything particularly helpful, but trying anyhow. Sarah is the family expert on laying tile, sod, rocks, etc, but she is not shown here.

Ben, out in the front yard, digging sod out from where we are expanding the strawberry garden. It was perfect timing, since we could use the sod in the new grass area. He did excellent work cutting the sod uniform and thick. Noah would bring the broken bike trailer back and forth, transporting the sod, which he stacked into a nice, neat "Tower of Babel" near the installation area.

Sarah and Hannah are cleaning up the area in front of the garage/Zak's shop, where we had stacked wood for the winter. It had been layered in ice and snow through our long, snowy winter, and is finally accessible. Interspersed with the wood are various tools, silverware, gloves, angle iron, etc.

Sarah was also cleaning up the inside of the shop, so Zak could get the rest of the bus benches cut for Solomon. That is why Solomon was doing the other projects!

Here you can kind of make out the driver side of the bus, with the three bench unit: front, middle (two benches back to back), and rear. You may notice we made the middle bench shorter; Zak's idea to improve communication during commute. That's why we had the delay, he had to modify the bench. Now Solomon is working on the last one, going on the other side of the aisle.

The bus design couples elegance and functionality.

While Zak was waiting for the shop to get cleaned up, so he could cut pieces for Solomon, who was doing landscaping work, while he was waiting for Zak to cut wood, Zak was printing the materials we wanted to have for our book table at the conference. That required some fancy fingers on the computer, as the computer controlling the printer is Linux, and the program controlling the booklet layout is in Windows, or something like that. I miss DOS.

Hannah had inventoried what we had left, and made a print list for Zak. Now, she is collating and binding literature for the upcoming homeschool conference, ak, about a week away! She is going to head up doing another batch of homemade paperbacks too, with Gorilla Glue, Lord willing.

Sammy is using his can smasher, a gift for his 5th birthday. It is not a normal "kid's gift", and we realized upon unwrapping (and fortunately, before installing) that it can also be a finger-remover without extra precaution: we have installed it against a shelf on one side, and put a protective barrier on the other side. This prevents you from sticking your fingers in the right or left side, where they would be amputated! No mishaps, and lots of fun work for Sammy!

Susanna and Bekah were doing alot of pickup in the backyard, as the snow melt revealed our huge, sprawling firewood pile we began to gather last fall. We are racing the spring, as the grass will eventually grow back, and around, and through, the wood, if we don't get it off the grass.

We have secured a push mower (as in, kid-powered), and will need the lawn very twig-less in order for that to work. Everyone is excited about having a weekly slot to do that. We expect it will take 30 minutes a day, all week long, to mow the whole property with a push mower.

Abi and Susanna are working on snow peas, which we can plant "as soon as the soil can be worked." They said the ground was very cold! We have this wire fence all around both gardens, so plant peas on both sides of the fence.

The combination of lots of wood- and sheet-metal screws being swept out of the bus all the time, with very expensive bus tires, is something we are trying to avoid. We invested in a new magnet sweeper, and it's guaranteed to bring up something at any moment of any day. Sammy here is working for a couple of packs of gum for all the kids to share. Price: 20 pieces of metal.

No, Sammy, that doesn't count.

With all the cars in our driveway, parking has to be well-planned and executed. Having a second bus in your side mirror as a landmark to steer by makes it alot easier!

Los Tios

On Saturday, we brought a few empty boxes to the live animal auction at Ledlow's, near Montello, and scored eight head of Muscovy ducks - four "drakes" (males) and four females ("ducks"). We were very interested in these ducks ever since receiving a free trial issue of "Backyard Poultry" magazine. Here is why:

  • they are quackless
  • they are good egg layers
  • they are good at hatching their own eggs (no incubator)
  • they are good meat birds, and most importantly,
  • their favorite food is mosquitos!!!
Since we have four couples, we decided to name them after the aunties and uncles,

Auntie Karen and Uncle Stan
Auntie Dena and Uncle Eddie

Auntie Jana and Uncle Jim

Auntie Soozie and Uncle Mike
... hence "Los Tios" (aunties and uncles)

We settled on eight because we got a deal, and eight were all there were...so no Uncle Steve at this time. However, just coincidentally, we spotted a stray TURKEY roaming outside Portage, and we were this close to pulling over and stuffing (pardon the pun) him into the van. Had the turkey a Sudoku book tucked under a wing, I certainly would have.

Zak and Solomon threw some fencing up and Solomon slapped together a mean shelter for them. Later, if things work out (ie, we don't have a duck butchering party), we will make something more permanent. Their pen is right outside our big picture window (which we call "the flat screen"), so we can watch them all day.

They are very peer driven, and their routine goes like this: First thing out of pen - every body sift dirt on the ground. Next, everybody preen. Next, everyone nap. Next, everyone walk around fluttering like you're heading for Mexico (they can fly, but haven't left the ground). They change tasks as if someone rang a bell. Next, everyone sit and eat gnats or mosquitos, or look like you're chewing gum.

Anyway, today we had a hoopla because we successfully escorted them back into the pen in record time. Zak and Solomon and Sarah (the duckboys and duckgirl), with one accord, navigated the tightly compacted flock (that is how they travel) effortlessly into their pen. Yesterday, we had to do the two-step and it took awhile, but today, they knew exactly what we wanted and complied.

Night night, los Tios!

Friday, April 04, 2008

College Considerations for Christians

Ben has been gathering pertinent quotations for Dave's upcoming talk, College Considerations for Christians, at the Sioux Falls homeschool conference. There is much in the Bible that seems applicable, first and most obviously, a simple comparison of the educational qualifications of the apostles with credentials offered by most christian colleges. That seems the slant of the quotes which Ben's typed up so far from various books and articles... food for thought, huh?

Jim Elliot (Shadow of the Almighty by Elisabeth Elliot):
p. 41: "His father, whose education had of necessity been curtailed, was anxious that Jim should fully apprehend the privileges that were his, and wrote to him in praise of education. Jim's reply: 'You speak of it as "rounding out one's manhood." It rounds it out, all right, but I'm afraid sometimes it's more in the style of 1 Corinthians 8:1, "knowledge puffs up." "Culture," philosophy, disputes, drama... concerts and opera, politics- anything that can occupy the intellect seems to turn aside the hearts of many here on campus from a humble life in the steps of the Master.... No, education is dangerous, and, personally, I am beginning to question its value in a Christian's life. I do not disparage wisdom- that comes from God, not Ph.D's."

Glenn Conjurske (Ministerial Education):
p. 8: “Real Christianity calls us 'outside the camp' to 'bear the reproach' of Christ and His cross. What college on earth aims at such an end? Their real aim is all the other way. It is to lift us above the reproach of Christ, to remove the offense of the cross, to win the respect and esteem of the world. To this end they pursue 'academic excellence' and 'accreditation,' for it is not the standards of God's Word that concern them, but the standards of the world.”

p. 53: When C. H. Spurgeon was invited to the pulpit of the New Park Street Chapel in London, he wrote: “The only thing which pleases me is, as you will guess, that I am right about College. I told the deacons that I was not a College man, and they said, 'That is to us a special recommendation, for you would not have much savour or unction if you came from College.' ”

p. 56: Quoting Charles G. Finney: “While attending the high school I meditated going to Yale College. My preceptor was a graduate of Yale, but he advised me not to go. He said it would be a loss of time, as I could easily accomplish the curriculum of study pursued at that institution, in two years; whereas it would cost me four years to graduate.”

Ibid... (hope I'm using that word right, is that an acronym or something spelled backwards?? - Debbie)
p. 57: Quoting Finney again: “Some of the ministers urged me to go to Princeton... but I declined.... and when urged to give them my reasons, I plainly told them that I would not put myself under such an influence as they had been under; that I was confident they had been wrongly educated...”

G. H. Lang (Departure):
p. 83: “It is in the home, the business, the church, and in actual gospel service, especially in the companionship of an already God-trained and God-owned worker, that truly effective training can be gained, and withal humanness, naturalness of heart and manner, be preserved. As Moody said to some young theologues who asked him the way to win men: 'Gentlemen, the way to do it is to do it.'
“It may be confidently asserted that modernism could not have obtained its rapid and almost universal grip upon the churches apart from the poisoning of the ministry in training schools. Yet I have never heard of one of these that was not commenced by godly men to give true Biblical instruction. Today there are extremely few that give that intended instruction. Satan has put his agents into almost every chair. Bishop Pierce, of the Methodist Episcopal Church, South, USA, wrote as follows: 'It is my opinion that every dollar invested in a theological school will be a damage to Methodism. Had I a million I would not give a dime for such an object. That is plain. So I advise... I am against it, head and heart, tongue and pen.... I pray most sincerely that the theological scheme may go down to the shades of oblivion.... We are beginning, I fear, to deify talent, and talk too much about the “age” and “progress” and demands of the times, for the simplicity of our faith, or the safety of the Church.' Let us take the warning.
“The peril arises once more from the concentrating of too much influence (in this case, teaching influence, than which none is more powerful) in too few persons. Their opinions and personalities can be deeply impressed upon those who, from youth and immaturity, are usually not able duly to criticize or to check what is taught, and who, by living in the school, are daily, ceaselessly, subjected to this strong influence without the healthy corrective of equally constant interchange of thought with many minds.”

This next one is really telling, written by the first missionary sent from the USA, who buried two wives and several children on the field...

Adoniram Judson, writing to a young man interested in joining the mission

In regard to your inquiries concerning studies, qualifications, etc., nothing occurs that I think would be particularly useful, except the simple remark, that I fear too much stress begins to be laid on what is termed a thorough classical education.

(emphasis mine, though he seemed pretty emphatic too!)