Wednesday, March 21, 2007

A time of introspection

The scene outside is bleak and dreary, but inside the heater pumps warmth into the room as I clean, sort, organize and rearrange. In the process I've come across my years and years of journals. It's important, I think, to occasionally read what you have jotted down in a journal. It brings a time of introspection - you can see where you've been and where you had hoped to be. It might bring on an "aha" moment or a "right, I'd forgotten about that". In this hurried world, layer upon layer of busy-ness can cloud our focus and keep us running around like a chicken with its head cut off (and I know from where I speak on the headless chicken concept). Spending some time reflecting on what has been important to you in the past can clarify your mind to see what needs to be weeded from your present life.

Spring is a time when I start planning for the following educational year with my children. I came across some quotes about education that I had jotted down many years ago and I'd like to share them here. I hope through these inspirational words that I can find myself back on track to creating a positive learning environment for my children that best acknowledges their God-given gifts and talents and the direction that He is leading them.

"We must keep in mind that education is nothing if it fails to teach beliefs and skills that prepare us to live successfully within our times."

"It's really important to look at the wrong answers. It is from them that we best learn about our mistakes and how to correct them. Mistakes are much more important than right answers."

"In real learning, however, mistakes are essential. A person rarely has the right answer the first time around, so learning is accomplished through trial and error."

"Education leaves out the crucial process of questioning what you don't know."

"Learning begins with questions - questions the mind forms in response to the world and events."

"School treats all the same, gives all the same, produces all the same."

"Education is preparing your child to live out the individual and personal calling of God."

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Getting inside someone else's skin

My sixteen year old son and I both enjoyed "Zack" by William Bell. We probably got different things out of it because of the difference in our ages and life perspectives. I'm sure he related to the main character - a teenage boy just starting to stretch his wings and crave independence. The historical aspect of the novel was significant, with a lot of research having gone into it. Basically, this is the story of a young black youth coming to terms with his ancestry - his father a Jew and his mother African/American. I felt it gave me a better understanding of the race issue especially comparing Canadian to American outlooks. This is definitely a young adult book - there are girl/boy episodes that younger children shouldn't be exposed to. And there is a little bit of "language". All in all, though, this is a book well worth reading for the development of the concept and even for the poetic language he includes. Bell paints many mental images through his use of words that certainly add to the depth of the book.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Purim isn't just for the Jews

This weekend I reread a "book within a book" - The Book of Esther in the Bible. What an inspiring story of standing up for what you believe in! Standing up against all odds in spite of danger. I love the celebration of Purim which is the time when Jews (and Christians who call Abraham THEIR father) all over the world remember what Esther did and the freedom that she gained for the Jews of her time. All Jewish holidays have their customs and special foods and Purim is no different. And each time in history brings new ways of looking at old practices. Check out this blog for extraordinary interpretations of traditional Purim and Passover objects.

I made hamentashen cookies for my kids in Sunday School (we watched a NestFamily DVD on Esther). The poppyseed filling they were very leery of but the raspberry and apricot were a great hit. Hamentashen are a somewhat picky to make. The dough is best if you chill it for a few hours and then roll it out in several batches. I used a drinking glass as my circle cutter - make sure to dip the glass in flour each time. Put a SMALL teaspoon of filling on the circle of dough, pinch three sides up to make the triangular shape, bake and enjoy. I like them best fresh, but they're tasty the next day too. Make lots - everyone will want more than one or two. I saw a recipe on the net somewhere for cherry filling cookies - I'll try those next year.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Books for us gals

You've heard of chick flicks? Well, there are some books out there that are meant just for us girls. Books that you curl up in a soft chair with - a cup of hot chocolate or cappuccino on the table beside you. A few pages later you're transported off to another world - another woman's world. But because you are both women, somehow there's a connection. Feelings are shared; minds connect. You can relate to this woman even if she is experiencing something you never have - because you're both women. Or maybe suddenly you see things from a different point of view because she is at a different stage of life than you or just went through something you haven't. But even so, there's a relationship - because you're both women. Whenever I'm feeling lonely or isolated there's nothing like reading a good "chick book" to remind me that all women share common feelings, dreams and desires and so, therefore, we're all bonded together. Of course, having a gab session with a flesh and blood friend is good too!

A few books I've read in the last year that confirmed how unique and special being a woman is (with a quote from each one - some sentences resonate with your spirit and can't be left to the memory; they have to be written down!):
The Year of Pleasures ~ Elizabeth Berg (pg. 160 The older I get, the more I see that nothing makes sense but to try to learn true compassion.)
Eat Cake ~ Jeanne Ray (pg. 122 She was a teacher in her soul and found that inside every action there was the opportunity for instruction.)
Pride and Prescience ~ Carrie Bebris (pg. 174 They began with minor transgressions and escalated their misdeeds, each one making the next acceptable in their own minds until they arrived at a destination so foreign to civilized men that their broken moral compass can no longer lead them home.)