Christopher Hitchins on the King James Bible

This was an interesting post by the Circe Institute, on atheist Christopher Hitchen’s perspective on the King James Bible. I’ve been thinking about this lately as we’ve started reading from the Bible (as opposed to the children’s Bible) every morning and also starting memorizing Scripture. I have considered whether we should use the KJV for both for the reasons outlined in this post – cultural reference, familiarity with beautiful, poetic language, the timelessness. I have no theological attachment to the KJV, of course, but it is an educational (and spiritual, if you consider that education should rightly be the education of the soul) goal of ours to offer our children rich and poetic language. So far I have always been happy with the Bible I chose in college – the Revised Standard Version (the “Catholic” edition in order to have our full canon). It satisfies my requirements for both accuracy and language. But I may be a little inconsistent when it comes to memorization. I’ve already switched our memory card for Pslam 23 to the KJV after the first reading of it – it seemed almost vulgar in any version but the KJV that I learned myself. I think that also Philippians 4:8 – which I consider the guiding verse for our entire homeschooling venture – will be memorized in the KJV. And perhaps when the children are older I will make a point to spend a year or two doing our daily readings in the KJV so that it is familiar and they are able to understand the many references to it.

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Oregon Renaissance Faire

The second annual Oregon Renaissance Faire and our second annual trip! (See last year’s photos, with a cute, very tiny Sophia, here). Again, we managed to choose the hottest of hottest days (mid-90s) to hang out all day in the fairgrounds, but we still had a lot of fun! The players all get a big kick out of dressed up kids, and especially like treating “Sir James” like a true knight. IMG_4378

One player was trying to figure out if Miriam was a gypsy or a princess. We all settled on gypsy-princess.IMG_4399 IMG_4401

This guy was really great. He had a whole armory in his tent, including armor he had made himself. He showed us all the different weapons and how they are used differently, and then gave James a swordfighting lesson! James was an excellent fighter.IMG_4415IMG_4419

James blocking…IMG_4426

…and making the kill shot!IMG_4436 IMG_4437IMG_4440 IMG_4450At the forge watching the blacksmith work.
IMG_4470James was in need of a new sword since the old one is missing, and we decided Miriam needed one too in order to be a gypsy-warrior-princess.IMG_4476 IMG_4479Miriam eating a turkey leg the size of her head.IMG_4481 IMG_4484At the joust.IMG_4489 IMG_4492You know me and baby feet. Can’t help it.IMG_4497 IMG_4498Sir James and Lady Miriam at their first swordfight.IMG_4506 IMG_4509 IMG_4511You know, a Charlotte Mason curriculum includes learning folk songs. I made a case to Paul for doing a unit on drunken pirate songs. He remains unconvinced. IMG_4516The tavern owners daughter and Blackbeard’s daughter fighting it out at the human chess game.IMG_4548 IMG_4551And right before we left, Sir James and Lady Miriam were both knighted by the queen herself. James really wanted to know how the queen decided he should be made a knight. We told him the armorer he fought probably told the queen how brave he fought. James seemed satisfied by this answer.IMG_4562 IMG_4563After their portrait with the queen, both James and Miriam turned and bowed low, receiving applause and many exclamations of “Well done, young sir and lady!”

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Playing Hooky

I’ve been feeling a little like I missed summer. We took our big trip to Ireland at the end of May, so we kind of used up our vacation time early. I could have/should have done more summery things. But we didn’t, and now we are in September, we have started our homeschool routine. But what better time to take advantage of the freedom of not having kids in school than during the first week of school? When it is still sunny and in the 90s? So we took off for Cannon Beach for the day.

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Sophia thought the sand was so awesome. The second I put her down she was doing her funny crab crawl all over the place, and kept trying to crawl straight for the ocean. The kids dug and made castles and ran away from the waves, and poked around in the tidepools by Haystack Rock.  We drank hot chocolate, dressed up in capes, chased the birds, and later went out to a very late lunch at a French cafe.

A whole day where no one had to be told to please be quiet, don’t do that, be careful, not even once. Totally free to run, barefoot, as far as one could possibly want. Free to get as dirty as possible, yell as loud as you want, run around in your underwear looking for sea creatures in the tidepools. If there is ONE thing I have found to be always true in this mothering journey, it’s that time in freedom outside calms and causes everyone to be peaceful. No conflicts, with me or with each other. Perfect trip for the first day of school.

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Watercolor Wednesday

We did our watercolor painting outside today. I should really be doing everything possible outside today, as the weather is gorgeous and will not last much longer. There is also the perk of the kids running off and having fun outside when they are done painting, rather than whining at me for a snack or something.



After we were done painting, I gave the pan full of water that we soaked the watercolor paper in to Sophia to splash in. Miriam joined it.

Sophia: “Miriam, WHAT exactly are you doing?”


It’s ok, I can just splash over here.IMG_4195

Hey, I am really good at this.IMG_4197

Sisters. I’m so glad there are sisters in our house. Maybe someday we can work on there being brothers in our house too. Wish upon a star.    IMG_4207 IMG_4209

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Don’t Trade the Best for the Good

This has been the lesson I’ve been learning most during these first few days of our home kindergarten. Way back when, I wrote about our goals and priorities in early childhood homeschooling. It helps to keep them in mind as we begin something a little more structured (but not much more). For the most part, what I’ve thoughtfully planned has proved to be a very good rhythm for us. Just enough planned activities to keep everyone occupied and learning new things, enough time to myself, enough outside time, enough free play time. But sometimes it is time for one of those planned activities, and the children are doing something else, and I have to decide what is the good and what is the best.


For instance, yesterday I sent the kids upstairs for quiet hour. After the hour was up, handwork was planned. As I looked around to gather the children, I found that Miriam had fallen asleep and James had gotten out a small rake and was raking up the few leaves that have fallen so far. He was totally absorbed in his work, and when he saw me he told me he was, “making a great big pile of them, way up to my knees, so that I can run and jump in them, and kick them all around” which are lines from one of our circle time poems. I knew full well that he was doing absorbing work that definitely should not be interrupted, even for something “good” like the week’s handwork project. Handwork was skipped.


Today during circle time, we read a story about St. Barbara and how she was locked up in a tower by her father. The minute we finished circle time, they were collecting blocks to make St. Barbara’s tower. The tower eventually became a castle where the saints can stay safe. I tone down saint stories quite a bit, but there is no getting around the fact that the martyrs became martyrs because of “bad guys,” and I often wonder how these stories affect them when they are so young. I could tell James was working out through play his feelings about there being bad people in these stories. James asked me to help him write “only saints allowed here” on a sign to put on his castle. I know by now that play is how they process and internalize the stories they hear, and I’d be foolish to interrupt that because it is officially time to do something else.



We are not unschoolers and I’m sure homeschooling will always involve a lot of thought and hard decisions about when to encourage discipline and getting things done that need to be done, and when to back off and allow space for a different form of learning. For these little years, I think there will be quite a lot of backing off.




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Work Clothes: Fr. Seraphim

This was so fun to watch, for several reasons! First, the priest interviewed is a friend of Paul’s from seminary. Second, the interview is one of a series on “work clothes” and talks about Fr. Seraphim’s priestly vestments. The first time I met Fr. Seraphim, he was weed-whacking at the seminary in the most beat-up cassock I have ever seen, his “work cassock” that had paint spatters on it. Fr. Seraphim is definitely a good person to talk to about work clothes! Third, the church where the interview takes place, where Fr. Seraphim is now assigned, is the church Paul and I got married in! It was fun to see it again in the video. I had no idea Fr. Seraphim was ordained at the Holy Sepulcher!

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First Day


The first day went pretty well! When I was making my coffee early this morning, I heard someone thunder down the stairs, and James came bursting into the kitchen and practically skidded to a stop. I said, “Good morning, Bud! What are you so excited about?” He said, all out of breath, “I’m excited about homeschool!” Isn’t that how every first day of school should go?

We got to everything I planned, didn’t feel too rushed or like I tried to fit in too much. Sophia (and really Miriam too) made Morning Time a little chaotic, but that’s just what happens when you homeschool with a one-year-old and a three-year-old. Sophia was exceedingly helpful after that, though—she fell asleep from the beginning of regular lesson time until well after lunch.

I decided homeschoolers totally get to take first day of school pictures too. It will be fun to add these to their end-of-year folders and see how they’ve grown over the year!

1st day - james 1st day - Miriam

A few shots from Morning Time (we went out and picked new roses for Our Lady):



Miriam was characteristically uncooperative with the picture-taking. But the bloopers are almost better than the one I chose. I kind of love the Shirley Temple pose.

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Circle TimeIMG_4121 - Version 2 IMG_4122

Their new journals (I take dictation) and a new read-aloud (which we started and finished today). They were totally entranced by this story. I ordered the other two in the trilogy during quiet time.


We had tea and an art project in the afternoon after quiet time. Really, I just started out making tea for me so that I would stay awake, but I rarely get away with that. They love it when I make them tea. I’ve had this little tea pot set since college, a gift from my roommate. It sat in a box for many years, but now it is the perfect thing for making about a cup and a half of black tea for me and a couple little cups of herbal tea for them.


We did something called the “Scribble Art Challenge” from The Artful Parent. We all started our own pictures using oil pastels, and after a few minutes all passed our pictures to the right. Then we worked on the new picture. Then passed again. Eventually you get your own picture back and see how it’s changed.

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James said his picture was of the Audubon Society (where we spend Friday mornings on the trails) and asked for help spelling it.


I’m so glad I get to spend this year learning with these little monkeys.



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