Tuesday, May 27, 2008

An illustration

We had been trying to think of an illustration to show how the world has copied God's instructions to parents, to ALWAYS be teaching their children His Word.

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up..." Deuteronomy 6:7

We as parents hardly ever can do this enough, and sometimes fear that to do so would be "cramming the Bible" down their throats, etc. But Jesus said, "...for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light." Luke 16:8b The world realizes the effectiveness of God's instruction to parents, and uses it for its own goals...

"when thou sittest in thine house"

"and when thou walkest by the way"

"and when thou liest down"

"and when thou risest up"

Of course, TV isn't the only way, but it is pretty influential and probably a primary influence in most homes. We learned getting rid of the TV is the first step to having more TIME to teach our children. Later, we realized how much of our sensitivity to things that grieve the Lord was numbed by exposing ourselves to TV. Just like a tick, whose bite is painless and numbing, but introduces all kinds of gunk...ooh, I better not get into that right now. We found four more ticks on the kids yesterday.

Abi made these illustrations for a talk we are doing this weekend at the Wisconsin Christian Home Educators conference. We are very busy and will hope to write when the smoke clears!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Reality check: 8 ducks verse 8 billion mosquitos

We (really) enjoyed record snowfall here in Wisconsin last winter, even raking in flakes after the official snow season tallies were done. It was so fun. It finally melted earlier this month, and then we had lots of standing water. By the way, we live near swamps and rivers. So, we are heavy into mosquito season. There are so many, you can't even count them all.

We have had to ask our neighbors, who are otherwise very considerate people, to PLEASE keep their mosquitos off our property.

We are also going to check with Grandpa Edd about printing up bumper stickers that say:

Please spay or neuter your pests.

So, the ducks should be really loving this, after all, they are MUSCOVY ducks (which some interpret to mean "mosquito eating" ducks). And they do sit down and munch them at times. But doing the math, we are not expecting a huge impact anymore.

Be that as it may, we are learning alot from the ducks and Sammy, Noah and Susanna...really everyone... is involved in their care and chores.

However, we do have some eggciting news...the females are laying eggs! We have been getting about 2 eggs a day, and they are big and yolky and yummy. The females have not gotten "broody", which means, they don't stay home with the egg. We will need to figure something out, as the two which are laying have built nests outside the confines of our duck coop. But hopefully, we can get a few more beaks out here to work on the extra mosquitos. We'll keep you posted.

This afternoon, we broke out the insect spray (which we buy by the six pack) and went on a walk down the country road just south of our house. The mosquitos always get excited when they see us coming. We carried extra spray with, in case we missed any exposed skin (we learned that you find that out pretty quick into your walk). In addition to clouds of mosquitos, we noticed that the web sacks of caterpillars we see on the trees are starting to hatch, and the road had tire tracks stained with caterpillar juice.

We did not see the orioles I found last week, nor the beaver, but we did find out, right before getting home, that we were racking up ticks big time. I think we took at least 8...all wood ticks. Eight is all we found today. We are keeping them as trophies on the "here-tick" card, and you can find the ticks scores in the white margin...if you are into those kinds of stats.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Let the little children come to Me

We have been taking the Bible a whole lot more seriously in the last 5 years, as a resource for teaching our children. We are seeking, as Dave says, to make it not only the foundation, but the FOCUS of our teaching. That is our desire. Basically, we are trying to take them through the real Bible, alongside us, instead of relying on children's Bible versions or materials. We have seen much fruit from this with the older kids, as they are developing an in-depth knowledge of details that we envy. As a result, they are better able to tie together concepts which span the Old and New Testaments.

But we still have lots of little ones to teach, and have started a little earlier with them.

Sammy (5) has finished his Bible time line through the whole book of Genesis. We tried similar things with our older kids at that age, but relied on a kindergarten program to supply little bits of scripture, linked by lots of arts and craft and stuff like that. It just didn't include much scripture reading. From the looks of children's curriculua (Sunday school and christian ed) we assumed you just don't do that with little children.

Anyway, we are now in Exodus. Each day we just continue where we last left off. Obviously, we go slow and define alot of words and concepts. It leads to all kinds of discussions on other topics: family life, natural science, creation/evolution, public sanitation, space travel, etc.

Sammy and I and Gideon (3) have our Bible school time when the bigger kids are doing their Bible copy work. We figured it worked out good to have Gideon with us, to practice sitting still and to keep him safely occupied. (This cuts down on our rate of toothpaste consumption, for example.) However, Gideon is listening and learning too.

And so are we...we are learning that little children can understand and retain much more than we thought. God wired their brains for it. That must be why God says we are to teach them from their earliest days.

[Of course, the WORLD knows this, and the WORLD uses this to merchandise all manner of vanities to children.... as they rise up, as they sit down, as they walk along the road.

"And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children,
and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house,
and when thou walkest by the way,
and when thou liest down,
and when thou risest up..." Deuteronomy 6:7

The world stole thate idea from the Bible...doing that which we parents don't do often enough. Why, oh why, do we fear "cramming the Bible down our children's throats", yet leave those same throats free to swallow so much folly and poison marketed by this world?? But anyway.... ]

Here are some examples of what our 3 year old is retaining and understanding, without flannelgraph or videos. To us, the potential is really amazing!


One morning, Sammy (5) and I were reviewing our previous chapter in Genesis, which was about Abraham's servant who prayed for God to show him the right woman to be Isaac's bride. We had read this story a full week ago, and were just catching up.

(In the story, the servant had ten camels, and the right woman would offer to water them.)

I asked Sammy, "What kind of animal would the right lady water?"

Gideon answered, "Camels."


So I asked Sammy, "How many camels?"

Gideon (3) answered without hesitation, "Ten."


After finishing up the part about Jacob's time serving Laban, which spanned 20 years of Jacob's life, and several pages, we got into his fearfulness about meeting up with his brother. We hadn't read of Esau, or even had the name "Esau" come up, for a relatively long time. So, when the text mentioned the name of Esau, I asked Sammy, "Who was Esau?"

Gideon answered first: "A cutting hunter." (That is his way of pronouncing, a cunning hunter, as it reads in the early description of Jacob and Esau. I had to look it up, as I didn't remember that description.)


At the end of Jacob's life, he had all his sons gather around while he gave blessings and cursings. I was explaining to the boys that Jacob (who I called "the daddy") had sons who were all grown at this point. I didn't mention Jacob by name much, I just referred to him as the "daddy" since he was the patriarch.

Gideon interrupted to ask if the sons were good or bad, and I tried to explain they were all sinners. I don't recall what else I said.

Then Gideon solemnly said, "Daddy tricked Isaac."

Gideon had recalled that, way back before any of Jacob's sons had been born, Jacob ("Daddy") had deceived his father into thinking he was Essau!


Regrettably, we haven't recorded more of these incidents, but you get the picture. We are amazed all the time.

Oh, and here is one that made Dave and me drop our jaws. During our night time Bible reading, Dave misread 2 Kings 10:10 as

"Know not that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the world of the LORD..."

Would you have caught that error? Before Dave finished the rest of the verse, one of the older kids corrected him.

"Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the LORD..."

Well, we thought it was a big deal....because our son had no Bible in front of him. He remembered how it actually read. How did he catch such an inconspicuous error?

Copying the Bible!

Friday, May 09, 2008

While the cat is away...

Dave has been at Java One out in San Francisco this week. Java is a programming language, and Java One is the premier event for people who are into Java. He has had a productive time of attending tech sessions and seeing acquaintances, specifically those within the "Grails" community. Grails is kind of akin to a special toaster oven configured to cook Java programs. (I may have to correct that statement, as I am not following much of this.)

In preparation for this conference, Ben and Zak have been working on a new website which is like a roster and locator for Java user groups. For months, they have been working on the site, as well as gathering information for JUGs around the globe. This is their first "Grails" project. Abi designed the logo for the website, which we used to produce a T shirt for Daddy to wear. (The complete logo includes the URL, www.juglist.net.)

The boys had the site done by Tuesday afternoon, at which time Dave unveiled it at a short talk he did on Java user groups, "How to find one, how to start one".

When Daddy is gone, we like to try to get surprise projects done around the house. The main one we could think of was building a new duck house, using parts of a used ramp we had been given. Yesterday, the boys were struggling to pry the pieces apart, and it was really going slowly. They were working in the shade of our old bus, which was not running. The idea occurred, what about trying to start up the old bus?

The old bus has been a big blockage in our driveway, almost completely cutting off vehicle traffic to the garage. It has been parked since the day of its last voyage, in our primo parking spot, and was always in the way, for us, for guests, and most importantly, for the guy who pumps our septic tank.

After an initial look-see, the boys noted that there was NO diesel in the tank. We had used it all during the winter, to fill the tank of the new bus. So, we decided that was the first step.

The boys also noted there was no diet Mountain Dew either.

So, it was off to the gas station, for a jug of diesel, and a 12 pack of Mountain Dew.

The ducks were skeptical.

We're still not sure what did it, the diesel or the Dew, but I was in the kitchen making pumpkin cookies when Susanna and Noah burst through the door to say, "They got it running!" Come to think of it, I could hear the familiar engine noise. Every Klein this side of the Mississippi was elated and frantic as we sprang into action:

First, Abi got the camera.

Next, we had to move all the stuff we had been stashing UNDER the bus (to keep it out of the rain), lawn mower, shingles, woodpile, yard chairs....

Third, we had to locate and clear a new parking place out in the back 40. We chose a sunny spot adjacent to our neighbor's septic mound.

Ben had to chop down a few small trees.

Fourth, we had to clear a path to the new parking place....

All this was done in a frantic, joyful flurry, as we did not know how much time we had to work with. Solomon checked fluid levels before we began the trek. He had to add water to the radiator, ATF for the transmission. The steering was really difficult for some reason, but we soon were rolling...

(For those with time to kill, you can catch the electricity of the moment in this footage.)

After navigating several hairpin turns around OUR septic mound (hence the singing of "She'll be Coming 'Round the Mountain"), accidentally driving over our woodpile, etc. we got our old faithful bus to its new parking spot, amidst cries of jubilation...

In disbelief, we spent a few moments praising the Lord and reveling in our new spaciousness. Then, I went back to making cookies, and the older kids worked on moving the other broken down car. That car had been stuck in front of the immovable bus, further shortening the usable length of driveway. It was a piece of cake. Even the little kids helped relocating our pile of ramp pieces, which is now in the garage. With thanksgiving, we parked the new bus into the primo parking place. (You can see where we parked the old bus just behind the blue car.)

So when all was said and done, we have a much more normal looking property: two school buses, two broken down cars, two working cars, and eight quackless ducks.

The skeptics were impressed too!