Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Book Reviews: Ivanhoe

I hope you liked the book review of Great Expectations I posted a while back. Today, I'm posting about another of my classic favorites: Ivanhoe.
When I was about seven years old, I read our abridged version of Ivanhoe for the first time. I disliked it, mostly because of the gore and blood that was involved. Thus, when I saw it on my eighth grade reading list…let’s just say that I could have been more excited. When I picked up the book, and began to read it, I didn’t expect too much.  But as I read, I became more and more intrigued with the story! In fact, I loved the story so much that I read the book for about forty-five minutes straight, and then had to put it down to do some other work.  By the end of three days, I had read the entire book cover-to-cover, and absolutely loved it! 
So, why did I like Ivanhoe so much? First of all, it had a fabulous storyline. It is during the ‘reign’ of John Lackland that Sir Walter Scott begins his novel.  Cedric, a Saxon lord, has disinherited his son, Wilfred of Ivanhoe and has taken guardianship of the beautiful and clever Rowena, a fair Saxon damsel.  Unbeknownst to Cedric, Rowena loves Ivanhoe, but tells no one this fact. When a merchant Jew named Isaac comes to John’s court, along with his dark-haired, attractive daughter Rebecca, Cedric learns that Ivanhoe has escaped from the battle in which the rightful king of England, Richard the Lion-hearted, was captured. Cedric dislikes this fact, but the lovely Rowena is joyful that her lover is safe, wherever he may be.
Cedric’s mind is taken off of Ivanhoe when, a few days later, a tournament is held at the fairgrounds. There, the usurping John sees for the first time the lovely Rebecca, daughter of the Jewish Isaac.  He is charmed by her beauty and wit, and vows to make her Queen-of-love-and-beauty during the tournament. However, his advisors quickly inform him that only the knight who wins the tournament may name the Queen-of-love-and-beauty.  John resigns himself to this fact, and waits for three days, until the last day of the tournament. When a knight in black armor, calling himself the Disinherited Knight, is proclaimed the winner, he promptly crowns Rowena-not Rebecca-the queen of the tournament.  As Rowena is placing the winning crown upon the knight’s head, the crowd shouts that he must take his helmet off. The Disinherited Knight begins to refuse, and finally must give in to the crowd's pleas. When the helmet is taken off, Sir Wilfred of Ivanhoe looks into Rowena's eyes, and promptly faints from a dangerous, open, bleeding wound in his side.

One thing leads to another and soon, Rowena, Rebecca, Ivanhoe, Isaac, and Cedric are locked in Maurice de Bracy’s tower, a leading knight in King John’s army.  De Bracy wants to marry the gorgeous Rowena, while Brian de Bois-Guilbert falls in love with the stunning Rebecca. Neither Rebecca nor Rowena want a marriage proposal from either of these men, and tell them so promptly. Nevertheless, Rebecca falls into the hands of Bois-Guilbert, and is in the process of refusing his proposal when news comes to the castle that Rebecca must be tried for witchcraft, as she is a Jew who learned medicine from a supposed Jewish witch. In the end, Rebecca must claim a knight to save her or else she dies by fire. Bois-Guilbert’s courage (or lack thereof) fails him, but Ivanhoe comes to save the young Jewish maiden, and succeeds in saving Rebecca, marrying Rowena, and gathering back his inheritance from Cedric.
Growing in Virtue (what is this? Go here to find out. It is in the lower part of the post.)
There are some really negative character traits in this book. There's a lot of anti-Semitism in here, but that's because of the time in which it was written. However, one of the big virtues that the reader is constantly brought back to is the virtue of fortitude. You see this the most in Isaac and Rebecca, the two Jewish characters in the book. Isaac, even in the face of fiery persecution, keeps standing up for his faith. He refuses to submit to the angry de Bracy and Bois-de-Guilbert, who, in his mind, are asking him to sin. Rebecca too shows great fortitude in refusing Bois-de-Guilbert's marriage proposal, and his constant pleas for her to convert.The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one; on the contrary, he wants to set us free from evil. We ask him not to allow us to take the way that leadsto sin. We are engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit"; this petition implores the Spirit of discernment and strength." This quote pertains perfectly to Ivanhoe! Isaac and Rebecca were fighting between flesh and spirit...and in the end, spirit won.
I hope you enjoy Ivanhoe as much as I did, and let me know what you think in the comments!
In XC,

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

How Will They Learn About Teamwork???

One of the questions my mom is often asked goes something like this.
"If your kids aren't involved in organized sports, how are they ever going to learn about teamwork?"
Our family is actually not anti-organized sports. My mom loved sports as a child, baseball, soccer, you name it, she did it. When Benjamin and I were little, we both were in kiddie baseball and soccer. Then when Benjamin got a little older, he was in tae-kwon-do for about two years and really enjoyed it. However, as God gave more and more kids to our family, life became more complex. Suddenly, it was harder to cart everyone into a practice, and stay there for 60 minutes or so, and try to organize around naps, feeding, and things like that.  Eventually, we decided to pull out of the sports, and do other things with our lives. But when people ask my mom, "What sports are your kids part of?" they're expecting her to say basketball, soccer, baseball, or a combination of all three. Instead, she says, "Oh, they actually aren't part of any sports." *Insert audible gasp and jaw-drop.*
"They're not part of ANY sports? Not any AT ALL? How on earth are they going to learn about teamwork?" Well, there's an interesting answer to that question. When you have 7 or more people in a family, you have a ready-made team right there! Our family has 8 people, which means that we have the perfect team in our own house 24/7. We learn about teamwork on an hourly basis! It makes our family draw closer together as a unit (aka team) when we work well together, and when we don't work together...we fail as a team, too.

Case in point. My job after dinner is to do the dishes. Doing the dishes, in the Crosby household, means rinse all the plates, load 'em all, start the dishwasher, and clean the counters with soapy water. Plus, we have these teflon frying pans and kettles that can't go in the dishwasher, so if we've used those for dinner preparation, those need to be cleaned in the soapy water too. All in all, the job takes about a half an hour, give or take a few minutes. The next morning, Sarah unloads the dishwasher which is her morning job.  We need an empty dishwasher so that after breakfast, the whole team can put their breakfast plate in and we can do a quick wipe up and get on to school.  After lunch dishes, we load and run the dishwasher again and then it must be unloaded before dinner dishes.  When everyone does their part, things go smoothly. 

The other evening, I did my dishes job, but got a bit sidetracked and failed to actually start the dishwasher. Oh, I loaded the soap and everything, but I just forgot to actually turn the dial to ON.  No big deal really right?  Well, just a little missed play you might say, it only impacts me..not really, not when you are a team.  One person's action impacts others on a team. 

The next morning Sarah came out to unload the dishwasher and said, "Cady, you didn't start the dishwasher last night." Case closed, right? Uh, no. When breakfast time came around, we had fried eggs, resulting in 7 plates that needed to be loaded into the dishwasher. Alas, the dishwasher that was so badly needed was temporarily out of commission, as it was running at the time.
Here's what would usually happen after breakfast. The night before, dishes are loaded and the dishwasher is run. The next morning, Sarah comes out and unloads the dishwasher, resulting in it being empty for breakfast. After breakfast is completed, everyone clears their plates, I rinse and load them, and wipe the counters off. Benjamin and Sarah do the floor and table, and we all are on school work quickly. Nobody is in trouble or stressed out, and at lunchtime, nobody is  irritated with one another, because nobody is getting in another person's way.
Here's what happened after breakfast, the other day, when I fell down on my job. Because the dishwasher was running at an odd time and the schedule was off, the little ones were mixed up. They just finished eating and left the table. That is definitely NOT what they are supposed to do, because even when the littlest people don't work together with the rest of the team, things pile up on others. Since they didn't clear, they got in trouble and I needed to clear and rinse their plates. The big kids did their jobs, but the whole breakfast cleanup took a lot longer because instead of just being able to load the plates in the dishwasher, I had to try to nicely stack the plates up in the sink.
Because of that, all the dishes needed to be loaded in a somewhat orderly fashion in the sink. Unfortunately, our sink is made in a truly stupid fashion, having one side be relatively large, and the other side quite tiny. So it really just doesn't work to try to 'stack plates in an orderly fashion.' That just isn't going to work. Of course, it didn't, which resulted in the sink being full to the brim with dirty dishes. Ick.
                   Before everyone cleared for breakfast. As you can see, there was already a full sink.
                            After everyone has cleared. It's all on the counter, and needed rinsed at that point.
                 That was after it was all 'organized.' Obviously, the sink is in need of a major cleanup still.

So after everything was in the sink, we proceeded on with our school day. However, I got back to school much later than I usually do because I had extra dishes duty. All this happened because I fell down on my responsibilty a team member. Yes, it may have been a small mistake in the course of life, but when you add everything up, it's pretty irritating.When we got back from church, it was time to make lunch. But at that point, we needed to unload a dishwasher! So I began unloading, which was irritating for Mama because then I was getting into her way as she tried to make lunch.
When the whole team works together everything goes smoothly. Unfortunately, that's not what happened the other day, because just one person fell down on her duty as a team member. However, if everyone does work together (as happens relatively often...) no one is stressed out or mad at each other.
In the end, after we all worked together to get the dishes unloaded and then the other dishes loaded...everything worked out nicely! We had a nice, clean kitchen and a load off everyone's shoulders.
Ah, much better!
All that just goes to show that everybody needs to work as a team when you're in a big family. Otherwise, even if one person makes a silly, seemingly little mistake, it turns into a big problem for the rest of the day. 
Jesus said
A lesson on teamwork and we didn't have to take anyone to the ball field to get it! 
"Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their labor, for if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him who is alone when he falls, for he hath not another to help him up. And if one shall prevail against him, two shall withstand him, and a threefold cord is not easily broken." Ecclesiates 4:9-10,12 This verse from Ecclesiates pertains to teamwork. Two are better than one! It's much easier to work together, with someone else, then to work apart.
I hope you enjoyed this post! Tomorrow, a book review of Ivanhoe for you!
In XC,

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Violin Musings

The other day when I was practicing my violin, I stopped looking at my music and watched my fingers. Since it was a minuet I've played often, I have it pretty much memorized. So as I was watching my fingers dance across the four strings of my violin, I thought of something. A violin is very much like a person's soul. How do I mean? Well, as I'm playing the violin, I can make something beautiful come out of it. When I move my elbow, my bow moves to a different string; when I move my fingers and bow together, a completely new sound is made. I have complete control over how the sound comes out.
Now relate that theory to your immortal soul. All of us can make something can make something beautiful come out of our soul. The way we talk, the way we act, the way we interact with others is all in our control. We can make the 'sound' that comes out of our soul be gorgeous.
But...when I play the violin, I can make ugly sounds come out of it too. Some people say that a violin can only sound pretty. Take my word for it-a violin can sound terrible! And I have complete control over whether or not it sounds beautiful or ugly. Again, let's take that metaphor over to the soul. We can make our soul 'sound' ugly, too. It all depends on what we choose to do.
Holy Week just started today, today being Palm Sunday. This is the perfect time to decide what you want to make your soul sound like. Do you want it to sound lovely...or not so lovely?
It's your choice....but I'd encourage the former. Just a suggestion.
In XC,

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stay-at-Home Daughters: Secret Weapon of Christianity

The lovely Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin
This issue has been on my heart for about a month now, and I think He wants me to write a post about this. And that is the stay-at-home daughters movement.  I first heard about this a couple years ago, but heard very little, and thus didn't really pursue it. But in early February, some dear friends of ours let us borrow the documentary The Return of the Daughters and the book Joyfully at Home. The DVD is produced by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, and the book is written by Jasmine Baucham, 23 year-old daughter of the Baptist preacher Voddie Baucham.  (Great guy! Love his books/cds!) These works turned my e-n-t-i-r-e thoughts on college upside down. I'll be going three ways with this. Number one, what is the stay-at-home daughters movement/The Return of the Daughters about? Number two, what would be the alternative to college? And number three, what I think about all of this.
Number One: What is the stay-at-home daughters movement, and by extension, The Return of the Daughters, about? The term 'stay-at-home daughterhood' was first coined by the Botkin sisters, and has been used ever since to describe young ladies who have chosen not to go to a college building, and instead, use the years after highschool to learn homemaking skills and how to run a household effeciently. Some of them have also chosen to still get a college degree through an online course.
The first statement one usually hears when they have just told someone that they are a stay-at-home daughter is, "Oh! So you're against college?" Actually, no. Stay-at-home daughters are not against college by any stretch of the imagination. They're not against education after highschool. They just don't particularly care for the way that this education is taking place for three main reasons: one, it costs a ton. Why spend a lot of money just to get the degree from a college building when you could get it from an online 'college'? Secondly, it takes 4 of the most crucial years of your life. 18 to 21 are some big years. Those years could be spent learning how to take care of a home, courting a young man, writing a published book (I put in that one because a stay-at-home daughter called Jasmine Baucham actually did that!)...the list goes on and on.
And thirdly, there's a lot more to a brick-and-mortar college than just education. There's some immorality at a college campus, certainly. I'm not saying you can't avoid that immorality.  But when you're around it 24/7, it's a huge temptation. Why put that temptation in the forefront of your life when it could be eliminated?
So yes, stay-at-home daughters are actually proponents of education after highschool. They're just not promoting it in the usual sense.
Now about the documentary The Return of the Daughters. This show, produced by Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin, gives a very interesting look into the homes of six stay-at-home daughters. These beautiful, intelligent, amazing young women said on camera, "You know what, we don't have to go with the status quo. We do not have to go to a brick-and-mortar college for life to go on!  We can stay at home and learn from our parents how to be a good help-meet for my husband when he comes along.  We can learn how to be better sisters to our siblings.  And we can learn a ton from Dad about his work-yes, real-life work.  And we don't have to learn any of that at college." It gave a great look into their acual lives. One of the young ladies, Katie Valenti, has a dad who is an interior designer. From him, she has learned how to design the interiors of homes. She also tracked all his income and managed all of his business finances. She married Phillip Bradrick in 2009, and now has a little boy by the name of John Mark.  In her father's home, she learned interior design-without a college degree.  She'll use that in her own home.  Under her father's tutelage, she learned about economics, because she took care of his on a day-to-day basis!  She'll use that in her own home, too. 

Jasmine Baucham's book
Very good read!

Another young lady, Jasmine Baucham, graduated from homeschooled high-school at 17. She worked with her dad, Voddie Baucham, to form an online bookstore, and is his research assistant. But Jasmine not only formed a bookstore for her dad. She wrote her own book, and published it! And the subject matter? She wrote about her journey as a stay-at-home daughter. She's 23, majoring in English from CollegePlus (an online college degree program), and is still in her father's house, helping him, her mom,and her 6 siblings. 
Number Two: What would be the alternative to college?
One alternative to college would be an online college program. The one I'm mainly talking about is called CollegePlus and comes highly recommended. These are created for young men and ladies who want a college degree but who do not want to go to a college campus to get it. It takes about two years to get a major in a subject, and you can do it all from your laptop. You get the exact same thing as you would if you were going to a college building: a degree. And you can work your day in a way that you can do the college-work in the morning, and have the rest of the day to learn homemaking skills, take care of your siblings, etc.
I think now would be a good point to address another advantage to the stay-at-home daughterhood movement. One could ask, "Well, why learn homemaking skills if you're not 100% sure that you're getting married?" Homemaking skills take you far in life, whether or not you have a family. Even if you are living by yourself, household skills are still important. Plus, this life is about service. Service to your family, community, spouse...So when you spend four of your most formative years serving yourself through education and the "college experience", and then try to throw yourself back into serving your family or spouse, it's really difficult! I think I'd rather stay in the family unit, a place where service is needed, and learn to manage my continuing education without becoming self focused.
 This question brings up another assumption many people have about this movement.Many people say that stay-at-home daughters are sitting at home, knitting, and sitting around waiting for Prince Charming to ride along on a shining white horse to save them. Nope.  Some others say that stay-at-home daughters hate education. Wrong again!  These women are waiting for whatever God has in store for them. If that means Prince Charming comes along when they're 23, glory be and hallelujah!  But if the right man comes along when they're 32, and they've had all those years to learn how to be a great wife and mother from their mother, and have learned from their dad about real-life much more exciting to get married! Plus, when and if Prince Charming comes along, my parents are there to thoroughly examine him.  They'll find out if this man is going to take care of their little girl for the rest of his life.  And they're there to make sure that their daughter's purity is protected and cared for,something that a college may take away from her. Yes, this is old-fashioned.  This isn't modern.  But this saves from so much heartbreak-and that's modern.
Number Three:  What do I think about all of this?

The documentary "The Return of the Daughters"
Wonderful and insightful watch!

I've decided....that I don't need to go with the status quo. I don't need to leave my family at 18!  I can serve God, and serve him well, right here at home.  I can learn how to be a better helpmeet for my future husband, if that's what God has in store for me, right here at home. I can get a college degree from home too, in whatever major I want to get. Again, I am not anti-college. I am anti-college experience. (Look for a future post on this...) I love education, and can learn so much about so many things by staying at home.
And that's what stay-at-home daughterhood is all about: listening to what God's plan for you is, and doing that as best you can. So when you ask me (as I'm sure I'll be asked very soon by many people, as I prepare to start homeschool highschool), you'll get a long and well-thought-out answer. Believe me, I have thought about this so much.  I think that this is what He wants from me. 
Ecclesiastes 16:1,3,4 says, "Rejoice not in ungodly children, if they be multiplied: neither be delighted in them if the fear of God be not with them...For better is one that feareth God, than a thousand ungodly children. And it is better to die without children than to leave ungodly children." I'm not saying college is ungodly. But I think that in my case, I can serve God better, and become a godlier daughter of God by serving Him at home. And with His help, I will learn to do so.
If you want to learn more about this, please watch The Return of the Daughters and read Joyfully at Home. Great book and a great DVD!  I couldn't recommend them more, and look for a review of Joyfully at Home shortly. For more information on the stay-at-home daughterhood movement, here is Anna Sofia and Elizabeth Botkin's website:
Please comment, if you would like....this is to be a dialogue, not a monologue. 

Watch for future posts on what I'm learning as a stay at home daughter!
Aut viam in veniam aut faciam. (Latin for "I shall either find a way or make one!")
In XC,