Friday, March 21, 2008

Passing Over Easter

I finished another book from my reading challenge list this morning. Passing Over Easter by Shoshanah Feher was a good book although not quite what I expected. I expected a book that was primarily about the religious and cultural practices of Messianic Jews . Although this subject was touched on briefly, the book was in actuality an ethnographic study of Messianic Jews which compared and contrasted Messianic Jews, traditional Jews, and evangelical Christians. Not having considered those relationships in depth before, it was interesting to realize that there are significant boundaries between Messianic Jews and evangelical Christians which they refer to as Gentile Believers in addition to the expected differences between Messianic and traditional Jews.

My personal experience with Messianic Jews has been extremely minimal although I would love to visit a congregation some time. The Old Testament feasts and festivals and Jewish practices are intriguing and the little bit of reading and study I have done on the topic has enriched my faith quite a bit. This is an area that I would like to learn more about and to incorporate more fully into our family life, yet I'm not quite ready to give up Christmas yet (although we try to scale back). In addition, I think that it would be easier to practice these traditions in community. For example, although I have purchased and read various sources, because these practices are so foreign it would be really helpful to have a mentor who could demonstrate how to do these things. In a similar way, I would love to practice formal morning and evening prayer within our family, but I really feel a need for someone to show me how or at least to see what it looks like in real life. I'm finding myself attracted more and more to a liturgical tradition, but the actual practice is a stumbling block in my current life situation.

On that note, I must confess our observance of Lent was mostly non-existent. We do a pretty good job with Advent, but there is so many external stimuli that feed into that observance. Lent and Easter, except for specials on seafood, doesn't have the same focus. Except for the fairly recent observance of Ash Wednesday at my institution and services during Holy Week, the weeks of Lent pass by without much thought. I just need to plan better and earlier next year and find an accountability partner or family.

You Go, Girl!

This post is a tribute to my dd, currently in kindergarten. Yes, there are times when she is frustrating, doesn't do what she's told, and just generally acts like a kid, but there are times when she makes me a very proud mama.

At her school they have an Easter party the day before spring break just like they have a Hallowe'en, Christmas, and Valentine's day party. While getting dressed that morning, she asked me if the party would mention Jesus or if it would just be about "fake" Easter. I responded that she can tell them about Jesus. DD responded that she drew Jesus on the cross on the Easter bags they had made. Sure enough when she brought her bag home yesterday, she had a great picture of Jesus with the crown of thorns, a black sky, and lightening. That's why, even though I stress about her education and whether to send her to public, private, or home school, that for now she's staying in her local elementary.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Cat Who

Last night I finished The Cat Who Talked to Ghosts, the first title in the mystery category for the 888 Reading Challenge. I initially found the book slow to get started and went back and forth between reading it and several other titles I was working on. The first few chapters were very detailed in order to set the stage for the mystery and set up the relationships between all of the characters. Once I finally got past the first few chapters the pace picked up and I finished rather quickly. I enjoyed this book as this mystery was rooted in historical events that had happened years before and ended up tying several prominent townspeople to the criminal with a tidy finish. However, the criminal was easily identified early in the book so the "Aha!" was more from how the plot came together more than "Who did it?"

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Technology Frustrations

Last week I attended a workshop on Blogs and Podcasts at my workplace. The workshop was quite honestly fairly pedestrian and nothing that I couldn't have picked up in half the time given the opportunity. Yet, therein lies catch-22 "given the opportunity." I feel that as a librarian I need to be on the cutting edge of technology or at least up to speed on some fairly commonly used tools and resources. I would really like to be able to utilize these tools not only for myself but actively in my workplace as well. In particular, I would love to be able to put links to all kind of cool resources and blog on the library website and other things that many libraries/librarians are doing as a matter of course. My biggest question though is when do other librarians find time to keep up with the technology? Are others allowed opportunity to explore those areas on the job? Do they do it all on their own personal time and have no life outside of the library? Are they infinitely more talented and accomplished than I? How in the world is our library going to be seen as a technological and instructional leader on our campus if we are not allowed the opportunity to explore and experiment in these areas and others that are just emerging?

Reading back over this post it sounds like I'm whining. I don't intend to whine but I honestly want to know how they are doing it and what I/our library can and should be doing differently or more expediently. Unfortunately, I don't really feel I can post this question to the library list servs as it would come off as whining and have my IRL identity attached.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The last book I finished was an "add-on" to my previously posted 888 listing. However, The Learning Coach Approach by Linda Dobson caught my eye and zoomed to the top of my reading stack since as a book from the public library it didn't have as long of a check out time. This title is unique in that it addresses the unique aspects of afterschooling which isn't written about much. I had previously read another title by this author about what the rest of us can learn from homeschoolers. Dobson makes afterschooling seem do-able to all people and just a natural part of parenting and helping your child succeed in life instead of an add-on. She emphasized adhering to the school curriculum fairly closely as using a coach model as the title suggests. This is where I differ from Dobson. I am finding that there are so many gaps in the school curriculum that must be addressed. Yes, there are times when you can use the school curricululm as a springboard, but there are other times when you need to go a completely different direction. However, I know that as my children's homework load and outside activities increase, how much I can do at home will diminish and will need to be carefully selected.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

General updates and musings

Well, our family has joined the vast number of other families in succombing to the lure of a mini-van. We found a great deal on a new model that will allow us to take extended family members with us on trips and better be able to take friends on shorter trips. DD is very excited about being able to have friends over more easily.

888 Reading Challenge: I'm gradually plugging along on my reading challenges. I'm dreadfully behind on the theme challenge but will hopefully catch up quickly. While the discipline of sticking with a reading plan is good, I find there are always numerous other books that appear (particularly in my line of work) that are just too good to resist or that fit a current information need. So I have lots of stacks of books by my bed that are waiting to be read in addition to the items on my list.

As always, I'm trying to figure out how to reasonably accommodate the half-millions things that I want to do in 24/7. It is particularly frustrating trying to schedule those activities that I know will make my life infinitely better (exercise, spiritual disciplines, home cooking) but cannot seem to fit in. In particular, I need to refrain from comparing myself and my life/schedule with others as not only does everyone have an unique set of life responsibilities and opportunities, but it only serves to make me more frustrated. However, when LibrarianMom rules the universe, everyone will have a 4 day work week.
I finished reading last week the most marvelous book, When Children Love to Learn: A Practical Application of Charlotte Mason's Philosophy for Today (Dewey Decimal 600s in my reading challenge) is in many ways a sequel to Susan Schaeffer Macaulay's For the Children's Sake. The latter book was my first introduction to Charlotte Mason and a great deal of it makes sense. I learned of the first title last fall and borrowed a copy from another library to read. The book is primarily authored by a professor of education at Covenant College and two administrators at private Christian schools who utilize the Charlotte Mason philosophy. This describes the type of school where I would enroll my kids in an instant if one was available. I read references to Charlotte Mason quite a bit of various homeschooling and afterschooling forums but had not seen her philosophy mentioned in regards to a traditional classroom although that was her original intent.

One of the things I really like about her philosophy is the oft-quoted (and paraphrased) statement that children should be given real or "living books" to read instead of "twaddle". In so many ways this just makes sense because if children read only twaddle they never develop a taste for the best of what is available and become loathe to try anything more difficult. In addition to twaddle-free education, Mason puts a emphasis on lots of nature study, picture study, composer study, reading Shakespeare and poetry, doing handicrafts, and letting children have opportunity to play and be kids. Her philosophy advocates academic school subjects in the morning with the afternoons devoted to nature walks, handicraft, and play or what she refers to as "masterful inactivity". Sometimes I have the brash idea that it would be fun to open a private school. At this point in time, it would be really difficult to decide between a Mason style school or a University Model School. I really think this type of school would fit a niche that currently does not exist in our area. The only private schools are a Lutheran school and a Catholic school that run through 8th grade but having looked over their websites and handbooks thoroughly, the curriculum uses the same textbooks as the public school with the main difference being the addition of Bible/religion class. Although, we're not displeased with our local elementary school, it hasn't knocked our socks off either. But until another option presents itself or I can figure out a way to fit full-fledged home schooling into our hectic life, I'm going to take the $3 grand plus that it would cost to enroll in private school and use that money to buy lots of great books and resources and take purposeful educational trips.