Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Curiosity Journal for June and July

Dear friends,

My cyber friend and fellow blogger, Ann Kroeker, writes a Curiosity Journal each Wednesday, chronicling her life in the categories of Reading, Learning, Playing, Reacting, Writing.  She has invited us to join her and link up, so here is mine, not just for this week but for the months of June and July:


I have been reading less books and more blogs lately.  I am, however, reading Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel again. (More on that in the Writing section.)  Other books too, but that is the one that comes immediately to mind since I was reading it today.

am preparing to teach 5th-6th grade English in our home school co-op, moving down from the 7th-8th grade class.  To get ready for our literature studies, I am currently working through The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, as well as fairy tales, medieval legends, and poems in The Book of Virtues edited by Dr. Bill Bennett. 

Most importantly, I'm trying to pick up the pace of my Bible reading with daily chapters from Psalms, Proverbs, 1 Chronicles and Acts.  I copy favorite verses in tiny handwriting in one of my journals.  See here: Gleaning Encouragement from Scriptures in Times of Disillusionment.


I'm learning that life is a swirl, many times not nearly as cheerful as the tie dye on my favorite t-shirt pictured here.  My little girl who is almost seven pulled it out of one of my dresser drawers an hour ago and wondered why I don't wear it very often.  It's because I have so many happy and bittersweet memories of this shirt but it's getting all worn out and I want to preserve it.  But I'm wearing it right now.  For old time's sake.  One of my not-so-fun times this month was an overnight trip to the hospital which you can read about here: Weekend Gratitude: A Healthy Heart.  So yes, I guess I'm learning about staying healthy, too.  And that spicy foods can give me heartburn that can make me think I'm having a heart attack.  Stress gives me chest pains, too, and raises my blood pressure. I need to avoid both.  The spicy foods are easier to forego than the stress since the latter is mixed in everywhere in life.  Fortunately, taking walks and enjoying nature help me keep the stress to a duller roar: Evening Nature Walk in the Neighborhood.

Linked on P52 photo project for Movie Party theme
Likewise, I've learned that sweet and sour go together, sometimes better than others.  My kids bought these candies for a movie night last week.  The Warheads are extremely sour on the outside -- you can't eat them without a serious pucker -- but they are a bit too sweet on the inside.  And they are definitely too strong for my heartburn problem. The sour strips, on the other hand, are lightly coated with a layer sugar on the outside with just the right amount of tart underneath.   And they are delightfully chewy.  And I can tie them in knots if I want to play.  Guess which ones I like better? I know there is some sort of life metaphor in this.

What do you think of this visual metaphor? Yup, that's a calculator.  Or it least it was before my little girl decided to explore its innards.  Yup, same little almost-seven-year-old girl.  Why yes, it was high time for her to go to bed.  I couldn't find the keyboard for our desktop computer earlier today.  Little Miss CEO-to-Be had borrowed it for her "desk."  At least she didn't disembowel it like the poor calculator.  It just doesn't compute.  Go figure.  With a paper and pencil.  Breathe, Mommy, breathe!


Oh, this one is easy.  

My big "play" for the month was flying up to Maryland with my 11 year old daughter to go to a family reunion in Pennsylvania.  Weekend Gratitude: Family Reunion in Pennsylvania.  Love love love seeing my family -- parents, sister, nieces, nephew, aunts, uncles, cousins of all permutations, and of course my 97 year old Grandma!  Yeah, my relatives are seriously awesome.  My second cousin Margaret took me on a short tour of her parents' beef-and-honey farm in Pennsylvania when I was there.  Double awesome.  Learning is playing to me.

A little closer to home?  For the first time ever, this has been a summer of theme parks for our family.  With a bunch of kids, we can't usually afford this, but one of my adult daughters is a Disney World photographer, so she's been using her free passes to take us into the parks a few at a time.  Then my mom helped us buy Sea World Fun Passes (for the price of a single day admission) so we can go until the end of the year.  I've already been twice this month, and some of the kids have been there three times already.  (See  

Weekend Images for some pictures like the jellyfish here.)  And since Sea World is on the way to the Magic Kingdom, big sister can drop off a few older kids on her way to work and save on gas and parking!  My nine year old son won two Lego Land tickets at school, so he and Daddy went a couple of weeks ago.  And my 11 year old daughter went to Six Flags in Maryland while visiting Grandma.  That was after Grandma took her and a cousin to San Francisco for several days.  Sweet.

On my iPod, I play Words with Friends with my brother, one of my cousins and several friends. Like my Dad, I also love Solitaire.  That's an understatement.  There is so much I can learn about problem solving strategies with this simple game, especially since I can hit the undo button to back up and try a different way -- or I can hit the replay button and start over with the same game.  And I confess that when I am really stressed, Solitaire is my go-to-escape.  I am, however, breaking myself of my TetrisFriends habit on my laptop.  I see falling bricks in my sleep and my arthritic right hand was getting sore.  I have pledged to my family that I won't play it again until Labor Day, and then only for a day or so when we take a break from home schooling.  :-)


This one is easy, too, but not pleasant.  I've been following the flap about Doug Wilson's disturbing quote in Jared Wilson's (no relation) Gospel Coalition article about sexual deviancy and male dominance.  The post has since been removed with apologies from Jared, but Doug Wilson and his daughters are still playing hardball. (Yes, I do personally own several books by Doug and Nancy Wilson, and I am quite familiar with their writing.) The debate continues about complementarian vs. egalitarian marriage.  (My personal view is in the middle, so I guess I'm what a friend calls a "complegalitarian.") Want to read more about this controversy and related topics?  I put a bunch of links on Facebook.  I was quite touched on Sunday morning when my pastor greeted me with gratitude for posting them.  He and his wife reacted about the same to them as I did.  I'm glad he understands why this is a hot button for so many of us.  Here are some of the links:
Adding in a side note: In her post, Ann Kroeker mentions reading a book called The Glass Castle, a tale of abuse and sexuality that horrified her.  She said she doesn't necessarily recommend reading it because it is so difficult emotionally.  That reminded me of a book I read which is, in its own way, related to the Doug Wilson debacle, and that is Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi.  It's been several years since I read it, and I would certainly hesitate to recommend it to most people, but the writing was stunning even if the content was at times shocking.  What would it be like to live in a culture that has completely repressed women?  If you want to read more on this topic and what you can do, I would highly recommend Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide by journalists Sheryl WuDunn and her husband Nicholas D. Kristof.


Wow!  I guess I'm already covering a lot of bases in this Curiosity Journal.  So I guess that's part of my writing.

This is actually my third post for the evening, and I haven't blogged in over a week, so I guess I'm on a roll.  The first one is my reflections on  "The Freedom to Be Candid" from Grace-Based Parenting by Dr. Tim Kimmel.  The second one is Web Sites for Free High School and College Level On-Line Learning.  To be honest, I didn't write that one.  It's a list of sites sent to me by my aforementioned second cousin Margaret.  

Yesterday I had the delightful surprise of a message from the managing editor of a major Christian home schooling magazine asking if I would join their team of writers. Why yes, I am interested!  I did explain to her that I am probably different from most of their writers in that I also have children in public school and I am somewhat of an outspoken cynic about a lot of legalism swirling around in the conservative home schooling movement.  That didn't faze her at all.  Yes!  More details to follow as I get more information.

On a smaller scale, one of the writing assignments I am planning for my English students next month is about houses.  In the first chapter of The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, the four Pevensie children are exploring the Professor's mansion. I am asking my students to imagine their dream house, as large and fancy as they want it, with whatever they want in the rooms, according to their interests and style.  I think they will have fun with this, especially since most of my students are girls.  My sister and I used to do this when we were little, drawing floor plans and decorating from the Sear's catalog.  We also used to write imaginative stories alongside each other.   (I still occasionally have dreams at night where I am living in a house I have never seen before and I'm exploring all of the secret rooms.) Then in the next chapter of the book, we meet Tumnus the Faun, who lives in a small but nicely appointed cave, so I am asking the students to imagine living in a tiny home.  What would they absolutely need that could fit there?  What few "extras" would they want?  I am trying to help them think about wants and needs and finding the balance between, which also leads into Edmund craving Turkish Delight in a subsequent chapter.

Well, that's that.  What are you Reading, Learning, Playing, Reacting, and Writing?  Do tell!  Then link it here:

Virginia Knowles


  1. Great collection for your Curiosity Journal! I'm so glad you linked up--I was on vacation last week and only just now slipped over to read your entries. Congratulations on writing for the magazine!!

  2. thanks for sharing.


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