Monday, June 29, 2009

The Pre-Trip Trip

In preparation for our week in St Louis, we had a whirlwind pre-trip trip in and around Wisconsin! This required lots of extra oil and strategic packing and planning, primarily by Sarah and the girls, who had all the St Louis (week long) trip clothing stored away, and still managed to scrounge up stuff that was good enough to wear in public beforehand! Whew! That left the rest of us to finish bus preparations, produce literature for our table at the home school conference, do yard work and clean the house! And I guess we had to eat three meals a day too.

We were once again blessed by time with our dear Wisconsinite brethren, in various parts of the state. First stop, the annual Rhinelander Youth Meetings! After entering town and driving around Rhinelander completely lost, which is also annual, we made it with seconds to spare for the Thursday night message, which was very well attended. Roy Daniels of South Africa was the speaker for Thursday and Friday's portion of the meetings. We only stayed through the end of Friday....too short of a visit, but worth the trip!

We were invited by dear friends to camp out at their place. Joshua and Zak were able to work on doing computery things Friday morning before the meetings, sharing things they are figuring out.

The supper is provided at the evening meeting, and it is always spectacular and plenteous! Our hosts were in charge of the potato salad. When Harmony put out the call for potato peelers, she may have gotten more than she bargained for. We enjoyed feeling helpful, and seeing how other folks make potato salad (our version has so much cider vinegar and pickle relish, it dissolves the enamel on your teeth - though we like it). Harmony uses diced radishes, which is very pretty. It was very yummy in the tummy!

Susanna is always supervised when chopping eggs, and not because she can't handle a knife! She is like mouse in charge of the cheese (or tomatoes or bell peppers). I guess the same could be said of all of us, though.

Wishing we would have brought extra peelers from home...

The boys enjoyed showing Ben and Josiah the outside of the bus. We sensed a bit of admiration, though we could be wrong.

I showed off the inside... Everyone is so gracious, and says such nice things about the bus! Here you can kind of make out the new tables that the boys put together, specifically for this trip. They feature a custom designed wall bracket, which means we don't have unsightly table legs to kick off, ripping a chunk of particle board off the underside of the table, rendering it useless. None of that. These will drop down to the same level as the benches, allowing you to pile on your bedding and children. It is so nice to have tables in the bus (as our first bus had)! Very thankful to our dear brother, Chris, who punched the holes in the metal for us.

Zak visiting with Dan and Roy, possibly about computery stuff again. Roy enjoys coming out to this little town each summer. He grew up in a Christian home, and had some very interesting and helpful things to say about false conversions...thinking you are right with God when you really aren't. He didn't use the old proverb "Going to church doesn't make you a Christian any more than going to McDonalds makes you a cheeseburger," but did point out some outward things that are easy to fake, but cannot save.

Our prayer is that each of our loved ones would truly know the Lord, repenting of their sin, and trusting Christ as their Savior. After all, if we could save ourselves by being "good enough", Christ died for nothing!

We had to head home Friday night, for another busy day of driving Saturday...this time near Appleton, Wisconsin...

Here is Sarah, early Saturday morning on our next happy drive, helping Sammy reading a book about fire engines on the drive. She did so much work to help us prepare with all the clothing organization, I kept finding myself thanking her repeatedly. Thanks Sarah!

This trip was in honor of the homeschool high school graduation of this young man, Daniel, pictured above (in more ways than one). Here he is enjoying a non-age-segregated game of what we used to call "captain's ball" back in California in the '70's.

Home school graduations vary, but the few we have attended always include prayer. Daniel's dad first shared a few important things, beyond the whole graduation thing. Then Daniel followed, graciously sharing how he came to know the Lord Jesus. So there wasn't much pomp, but they definately made the most of the circumstances!

Sammy seems to smile like this every day!

Can you guess what happens next?


Here are the dads talking.

As we packed up to leave, we paused for a photo, knowing it would be a little while till we had a chance to pause again!

So it was a wonderful, full weekend!

It's amazing how far you can travel with a wigged-out cam shaft position sensor! What is a cam shaft position sensor? How does it wig out? That is for another day...

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Education of Kings -- the story behind the book

Putting the collated pages inside the scored and folded cardstock covers.

Applying glue to the edges of the pages.

Carefully alligning the glued pages into the covers.

Compressing the glued books until they are dry.

This evening, we are gluing pages into cardstock covers, and then wedging the untrimmed books under heavy dictionaries until the glue is dry. Tomorrow, we hope to find a local printer to trim the outside pages, giving them less of a "home published" look. We are preparing for next week's homeschool conference near St Louis, Missouri.

Here is some of the story behind this important book which we carry at our literature table at homeschool conferences...

Our family's first venture into home-printing/publishing came several years ago, upon meeting Art and Linn Dappen. At the time, we lived in Edinburg, Texas, a stone's throw from the Rio Grande.

Prior to Edinburg, we lived in the city of Madison, Wisconsin. Dave had a contract with the state of Wisconsin. But the opportunity arose for Dave to take a job which he could do entirely from home. We felt this was our opportunity to move to Mexico, with Dave working from home in Mexico. After some research, though, we learned that the type of computer connection Dave's work would require, at that time, was extremely expensive in Mexico. So, after prayer and house hunting, we found a house in Texas fairly close to Mexico, and Dave worked from home. The location at the border opened many doors for us, both to see more of God's work in Mexico, and to meet some very special people.

Among the many we met were Art and Linn Dappen, missionaries in southern Mexico. Their family has been one of many which the Lord has been using to build up the church in Mexico, through training children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. The Lord has brought them through amazing things and taught them so much.

Our first meeting with the Dappens was when their family came to our home to stay for one week! The ten family members brought all their clothing in ONE huge duffel bag! Still relatively new at the traveling-with-a-big-family game, we were in awe!

Anyway, they were in our home for maybe 30 minutes before we realized we had known each other for years! Well, no, but it felt that way. Our hearts were knit together instantly.

Art had been writing newsletters and articles to build up Mexican families for many years. At the annual Mexican homeschool conferences, his family had a literature table, offering free booklets. Art was often invited to speak in the sessions.

After that first visit, our house at the border became a regular stop for the Dappens when they came out of Mexico about every 6 months. We received all their packages, shipped from family from back home in Washington. The timing of their visits coincided with the two annual Mexican homeschool conferences; they would normally prepare their literature during this time. They had these awesome booklet staplers...kind of a cross between a normal stapler and a giraffe. We were anxious to help, and they patiently showed us the meticulous way they put them together. They eventually purchased a photocopier, which we housed for them.

Most of Art's writings were in Spanish, but he did occasionally create English versions (some of which you can find here) to send to friends in the States. After we had seen some of the articles he had assembled for Mexican families regarding copying the Bible as education, Dave encouraged him to translate them into English. Art was very interested in doing so, when time allowed. Life was so busy for their family.

But things did slow down for Art. About six months before his homegoing in November of 2006, he became very ill. Initially, it looked like the Lord was calling him home then and there, but he did recover some. During his last trip to our home, in August of the same year, still pretty weak, Art decided to make use of his down time in doing the translation work.

He selected some of the articles he felt would be the most beneficial, settled in a quiet room in our home, and began translating the articles, recording them on audio cassette. He put a lot of effort into this process. Because of his frequent coughing spells and difficulty sleeping, it is amazing to think of the huge job he accomplished. We know the Lord helped him.

The cassettes were then given to our son Ben. Ben carefully transcribed each tape, adding punctuation and separating paragraphs as best he could. Then, he printed out the transcription of the first six or so articles, and gave them to Art so he could make any corrections or clarifications. Art was pleased with Ben's initial transcription work. But before Ben completed all the transcriptions, the Dappens had to head back to their home in southern Mexico.

Well, at this time, we knew it would be our last visit at the border. Dave's work from home had all dried up. His previous client in Wisconsin still wanted him -- but he had to be in Wisconsin. So, we were scheduled to move back to Wisconsin right after that August conference. That was kind of a heart-wrenching time, although we felt it was the Lord's clear leading for us to head back north.

Our move to Wisconsin kept us busy for some time, moving in, fitting us all in a very small house, etc. We got busy with other things, and regrettably, we put the transcription project on hold.

Well, on November 9, 2006, we received a phone call that Art had gone to be with the Lord. As the reality sank in, we realized we had left something undone.

A memorial service in the States was scheduled for a month after his death. As we prepared to take the trip to Washington state, Ben jumped back into his transcription work. We got tips from our friends, the Richardsons (also in Mexico) for gluing books together. Our desire was to bring copies of the book to the memorial service. We had never done a "paperback" before, so it was pretty rustic and imperfect, but done with much love.

For the cover on the current book, Art's son Bobby later supplied us with a photo of Art's copy of the Bible...his last page was written the day before his death. (We later put together an audio version of Education of Kings, read by Bobby, which you can find here.)

The title, "The Education of Kings" came from the scripture Deuteronomy 17:18, 19. Before Israel had a king, when they were still pilgrims in the wilderness, God told them, one day they would have a king, and that king was to make a copy of all the law (given through Moses), and read it every day, so that he would obey the law and not seek vanity. Art saw from this, in God's eyes, this was the epitome of "education". Who needed to know more than the leader of God's people? And where was he to look? The law of God, of course. Art saw how modern man has set up his own high places, relegating the Bible to mythology or merely literature. Even professing Christians have placed many things before God's Word.

It's interesting that educators have valued "copywork" for centuries. But God thought of it first.

So, the book. It's a compilation of essays. It can be read in any order. In some places, the translation is still a bit rough, as Art never completely went through all the transcriptions. It's not a perfect book, by any means. It is certainly not the 67th book of the Bible. But we feel strongly that much can be gained through the insights of our dearly missed brother. We saw the fruit of lives ordered by attempting to keep God's Word at the forefront, of boasting not in self, but in the word of the Lord.

Monday, June 15, 2009

May and June -- wow!

We have had some very busy days! We have been stretched in every direction, not unlike a wad of bubble gum! We thank the Lord for the many blessings packed into the last few weeks...

Our dear amigos, the Dappens, increased their tribe by one more daughter, through the marriage of Jimmy to the new Sarah Dappen. We were able to attend the wedding in northern Indiana, and Zak was honored to be a groomsman. Even the rehearsal, which ended in prayer, was a blessing....

Since we were in northern Indiana anyway, after the wedding, we invited Linn Dappen and her daughters to jump on the bus and take a quick trip to the Creation Museum, near southern Indiana, for a Sunday visit!

We all found the museum amazing, and the dinosaur sculptures were VERY realistic...

We took zillions of pictures at the Creation Museum, but I'll just include this cute one of Joshie, who really enjoyed feeting the goats at the petting zoo...

After our arrival back at home, we were in full swing preparations for the Wisconsin homeschool conference, but managed to squeeze in a day for the fossil hunt put on by In The Beginning, Inc./the Russ and Laurie Hanson family. In anticipation, Sammy and I made up a list of things to bring...

This was such a fun time, we are so glad Daddy forced us to go! We left the big kids home to work on conference preparations, so it was just Mommy and the "lower six". Beautiful drive, beautiful weather...

Here is Mrs. Hanson helping the kids interpret some of their finds. They brought all their metal working equipment, hats, sunglasses, and first aid tools. This part of Wisconsin is nearly indestructible, so they just went for it. The area is at the end of a pasture (with all the aromatic accessories commonly associated with pastures) where there is a cliff stacked with marine fossils: cephlapods, trilobites, sponges, you name it. You couldn't sneeze without hitting a fossil!

Marine fossils in Wisconsin? Hmmmm...how would you explain that?

Fording the creek to get to the fossils was a major source of fun.

You can take them with you...but we had to leave some of them behind, for fear that the tires on the station wagon would pop. The rounded big thing in the center is a sponge, I was told.

As alluded to in a previous post, we had a blessed and busy time at the Wisconsin homeschool conference, but before we knew it, it was over and Dave was off to California...

This laminated ad for Java One, a major computer conference, served as a reminder by the coffee pot for months that Daddy had to get ready for his talk. We got the news back in February that one of his proposals had been accepted. Of course, by the time June rolled around, his proverbial plate was pretty full. Actually, it was more like a buffet where you keep getting a new, clean plate.

At JavaOne, he led a session on "Grails Integration Strategies". It was well attended and received some nice feedback. Unfortunately, though we were all excited about the talk, it meant he was not home on June 2, which was....

...so we celebrated without him. Our consolation was watching one of Daddy's favorite computer colleagues interview him! Dave! The interview was broadcast or podcast, or otherwise cast in silicon, on the internet. At the end was Dave's characteristic sweep of the forehead and relieved sigh -- classic!

Here, Sarah is sitting on her decorated "throne", where she was presented with many and sundry gifts from her beloved family, including but not limited to, a new sewing machine.

The weather was actually cool and the sky overcast, so we prepared a lunch and set off for Devil's Lake State Park. Unfortunately, due to a slight misinterpretation of the map, we never actually saw Devil's Lake. We did, somehow, tackle the only loop trail Mommy has ever been on which seemed to be uphill the entire way! But, it was a beautiful hike and Sarah tried to be a good sport, and we all enjoyed pineapple upside-down cake upon our return.

The family weldor, Solomon, snapped a couple of "before" shots of the braket he is making for the bus table/beds. Currently, he has a big stack of steel to weld, as soon as we get our machine back from the shop. Next stop: Missouri!! We'll update later!!!

Monday, June 08, 2009

Hair cut boys

Tonight we "mowed the lawns" of all the men-folk. As Sammy observed Gideon getting his hair cut he remarked, "Giddy, your hair looks really nice. It changed from being blonde to skin-colored."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

A discovery - teaching reading with the Bible!

We had such a blessed time at the Wisconsin CHEA homeschool conference last weekend! Meeting and talking with so many parents, who are really seeking the Lord's direction for their families, was exhilarating and encouraging. We had some long-longed-for fellowship with some of our good friends, too! Several Klein family members volunteered to do sessions, so we had to do some strategic planning, but the Lord helped us to keep track of everyone. I know we'll post pictures later...

Years ago, Joanna was saying all the letter sounds in the alphabet and when she got to d, she said, "I'm not allowed to say that one," much to the chagrin of Uncle Eddie. The d says "duh", and Joanna (a very compliant child) was allowed to say the sound, but not the expression, though it really comes to mind for the topic of this blog entry. Don't tell Uncle Eddie!

Teaching reading with the Bible, of course, is about as old as the Bible. But in the past year, we have pursued this more fully, and it has been a wonderful experience. Here is a little of our story thus far...

Yesterday, Sammy and I (Mommy) were on the lawn swing doing his Bible reading. Sammy is our 11th child, and for his reading, we have taken the final plunge in teaching reading from the Bible. I think he saw a couple of Bob Books (phonics readers) when we first started, but we disposed of them early on. Not phonics, just phonics readers.

Anyway, reading is much more than just learning letter sounds. Children are learning language from their earliest days, bit by bit. We have noticed more and more, as we have had more children, signs that they are understanding us earlier than we previously realized. For example, Joshie (number o-one-three, as we like to say) from before 8 months old UNDERSTOOD "no"! This may not be news to some alert parents, but for us, it was amazing. But more about that later, Lord willing.

Through the years, as the Lord has shown us the importance of intentionally teaching our children the Bible (especially, but not limited to, morning and evening devotions), we have noticed our younger children absorbing (memorizing) Bible verses. Hmmm. During our morning devotions, when we focus on memorizing together, the younger children, who do not always appear to participate, still learn and memorize. In fact, they can "lead" the family in calling out verses with Daddy (which the rest of us echo back, until we know it by heart). Many homeschoolers are familiar with this ability in young children, and use it for all kinds of information such as math facts, Latin conjugations, states and capitols, etc. But doesn't it seem like God had a higher purpose for this ability?

So, prior to reading lessons, our children are taking in a many Bible verses...just from hearing it read and recited.

In addition, when we start "school," we begin with Bible reading. We read and re-read familiar Bible stories (Jonah, Noah, creation, the birth of Jesus, the resurrection, etc.). It doesn't take long before these are largely memorized. No flash cards or flannelgraph, just reading (and discussing as needed). Even from age 3, Gideon was able to fill in the blanks while we were reading through the whole book of Jonah! We simply had no concept that this was possible or even desirable with our oldest children. We thought you were supposed to use children's "Bibles"!!

So, with Sammy, we simply started introducing letter sounds to simpler words or syllables. We kind of followed the pattern of most phonics programs: single consonants and short vowels. For sight words, we just picked out some words that followed no typical rule. By working on familiar stories, Sammy was familiar with what words would pop up, and learned to associate the letters (and their sound) with the words. It's really no different from using Spanish songs to help remember pronunciation (or conjugations).

With phonics readers, our children would ALWAYS look at the pictures and then make a total guess as to the sentence, with no regard for the words, letters, or even number of words on the page. I always had to cover the picture, or they would start guessing.

With the Bible, there are occasional guesses (for example, a word that also starts with the same letter). We chalk that up to laziness at the beginning. A reminder to "sound it out" gets him on track.

Starting with passages that Sammy already knows is helpful, because he can put together what the letters are actually are with the word. For example, Sammy asked "Is the P in Psalm silent? Because it's supposed to say 'salm'."

Sammy has a notebook in which we occasionally write down word families (should, could, would or might, sight, light). We used that daily in the beginning, and he sometimes would say, "I need to write that on my -ight list" or whatever.

I am greatly abbreviating all the adventures we've had with that, but now we have moved on to something he has not memorized: the gospel of Matthew. Starts with genealogies! They are great, because he can use all the phonics he's got, and how can you go wrong? I notice that when a new peculiarity emerges (Spanish is such a wonderful language!), I just mention that in this instance, the letter(s) say ____. And we go on. WHEN HE IS ALREADY FAMILIAR WITH A PASSAGE, this just gets programmed into his brain. Well, you know, it's just like learning the irregularities with spoken English -- it doesn't require a curriculum.

For writing, he is mostly doing copywork (for letters to people), but he is branching into shopping or packing lists, like the list he made for Sarah's 16th birthday. Making lists is such a fun thing. He loves to sound things out and write things, but still needs a good deal of help.

Some reasons why we are really enjoying teaching reading from the Bible:

1. It's a natural, because the child is familiar with it from their earliest days, uses it daily, has portions memorized, enjoys having his own copy, equates it with being BIG, and will need it all his life long.
2. Furthermore, because its natural and in use in the home, reading comprehension seems to be faster, because they know its SUPPOSED to mean something! In reading Matthew, Sammy asks questions that reveal he is not merely decoding words. It just seems to be the perfect book for reading -- no doubt!
3. There are no pictures to confuse.
4. It helps them to participate more in family Bible reading and church meetings.
5. It requires no accessories to purchase and so is very PORTABLE! Today, we will work at the laundromat!
6. It doesn't drop children off at a certain "grade level".
7. It has real meaning -- this is not typical of phonics readers.
8. It is so interesting! A true story, starting with the beginning of the whole world!
9. It's the most important book ever written. We really love "bringing the little children to Jesus" in this way.

Well, there are some observations from where we are so far. We are very thankful for what the Lord is teaching us through all our children.