Posted in Nature Study

Nature Study: Northern Cardinal

One bird we hear more than we see in our backyard is the beautiful Northern Cardinal.  Delightful, 9, loves to imitate their call and have conversations with them.  We usually see the females more than the males, at least at bird feeders.  Here are a couple of pictures of what the females look like:

Female Northern Cardinal in my garden

Northern Cardinal Female

Female northern cardinal (6778224297)

And the males:

Northern Cardinal male RWD2

Male Northern Cardinal (9600060696)

Northern Cardinal (17103105617)

Northern Cardinals make calls that sound like birdie-birdie-birdie and what-cheer, what-cheer.  They also make a loud chip call.  Wikipedia describes the calls as follows:

“Both sexes sing clear, whistled song patterns, which are repeated several times, then varied. Some common phrases are described as “cheeeer-a-dote, cheeer-a-dote-dote-dote”, “purdy, purdy, purdy…whoit, whoit, whoit, whoit”, “what-cheer, what-cheer… wheet, wheet, wheet, wheet”[17] and “cheer, cheer, cheer, what, what, what, what”.[12]

Here is more on the song:

For more information on the Northern Cardinal, visit Cornell’s page here:

Posted in Spiritual Upbringing

Do We Trust our Kids with the Gospel?

An excellent article from Wheat and Chaff:

The Naughty Grandson“It seems to me that when a person is converted to Christianity as an adult, and then becomes a parent, there is a common pitfall they fall into. It is not easy to recognize the real nature of our fallen state, and it is the most natural thing to love our children dearly and want the best for them. So it seems common that this adult convert to Christianity will believe, perhaps even only on an unconscious level, that his children can be spared all the pain and sorrow that he himself experienced from falling into sin, if only he raises their children right. He will simply put in place all the right rules, strict discipline, and thorough indoctrination in the Christian faith, and the result will be that his child will have a relatively trouble-free life, without falling into any of the gross and destructive sins which he himself experienced…

Read more:

Posted in Curriculum, Subject History & Geography

A Review of Veritas Press’s Pages of History Volumes 1 and 2

cover_thumb_12_11Background: I saw these books in Veritas Press’s catalogue. After looking at sample pages of them, I thought I would give them a try with my history-phobic 5th grader. This review is from a confessionally reformed perspective (original Westminster standards).

Grade: B+

Verdict: I would use these books as supplements in my homeschool, but only with my own edits and commentary.

What I Liked:

  • The concept of weaving history facts into a fictional adventure is intriguing and attention-grabbing for students who don’t take to traditional history materials
  • It is nice to have a supplemental overview of many of the highlights of world history
  • Despite being overviews, the books contain an abundance of historical information. What isn’t directly in the text is placed in sidebars throughout the books so students can learn even more about the cultures being studied. For example, there is a chart about Egypt’s many gods and a photograph of the Rosetta Stone in the section on Egypt.
  • The books introduce the reality of persecution, which is something Christians have had to deal with for centuries and of which children should be aware
  • There is a lot of great theology in the books. In particular, the sovereignty of God in history is repeatedly emphasized. Students also learn about the inherent sinfulness of humanity and how it relates to different historical events and political arrangements
  • The books present the Creation, Fall, Deluge, etc. as actual historical events, which, from a Christian perspective, are
  • The books present more than one point of view on different topics such as “manifest destiny” so that students can come to their own conclusions

What I Didn’t Like:

  • coverthumb_20_1Although the concept is great, I would like to have seen more:
    • more about the persecution of Christians in the main characters’ time and how they deal with it; and
    • more incorporating history facts into the actual plot instead of just telling them to students
  • At times the books seem preachy, with the characters travelling from time to time just to receive a series of lectures. As in the last point, the books would be even better if there was less telling and more showing. Of course, that would have made the books longer, which is also a consideration to take into account.
  • There are numerous Third Commandment violations/minced oaths that I had to edit out, ie. “Jeez” and “Sheesh” for “Jesus”
  • There are instances of bad language that I had to edit out, ie. “heck” for “hell”
  • There are several Second Commandment violations/images of Jesus that I had to edit out
  • There are some factual errors I had to correct. For instance, Volume 1 states that Noah’s Ark landed on Mount Ararat, whereas the biblical text states “the mountains of Ararat.”
  • Sometimes an overly rosy view of history is presented. For instance, students are given the impression that the conversion of Norway to Christianity was a great thing. There is no mention of the fact that that conversion was often done by force, which is contrary to biblical principles.
  • For a book written by and for Protestants, I would have liked to have seen Protestant theology emphasized over Catholic theology:
    • For instance, when discussing eschatology, Catholic Futurism and Catholic Preterism are presented as the only two options. There is no mention of traditional Protestant Historicism (though admittedly this position is in the extreme minority these days).
    • In addition, the invention of manmade songs for worship is treated as a wonderful development (which follows the Catholic normative principle of worship), whereas from a historic Protestant perspective such songs are considered a violation of the Second Commandment (following the Protestant regulative principle of worship). Although many Protestants follow the normative principle today, it would be nice if they were made aware that historic Protestantism adhered to a vastly different theology than many forms of modern Protestantism.
    • There are also several passages that give readers the impression that a person is “holier” if he chooses to live as a monk or experiences phenomena like stigmata.  This, again, is contrary to the Protestant teaching of vocation, ie. that all vocations are holy and that church officers are not a cut above the rest of us.
    • There seems to be a tendency to portray Catholicism as the default view of Christianity.  For instance, when the kids “play church,” they don robes and carry croziers, etc.  These are all Catholic trappings that are not used in historic Protestantism, nor are they found in the Bible.

Final Thoughts:

Overall, these books are a useful addition to my homeschool. I blacked out all objectionable language and put stickers over the images of Jesus. Any topic that I thought needed some additional commentary was given a star in the margin as a reminder to me to address as my daughter reads the books.

So far, my daughter is enjoying reading Volume 1. She has had no complaints as of yet. I hope that these books will help her see that history can be exciting and that God is ever-present in human affairs.

Posted in Nature Study

Nature Study: Red-winged Blackbird

As we have continued learning about the birds in our area, here is a bird we saw this summer by a pond beside a highway.  The redwinged blackbird is a beautiful black bird with red and yellow bars on its wings.  Its call sounds like “conk-la-ree!”

Redwinged Blackbird m 4054

Redwinged Blackbird m 7324

USFWS redwing blackbird1 (23770628931)

Redwing the Blackbird, Speckles the Starling

Here and see the Red-winged Blackbird in this video:

See the Red-winged Blackbird’s range, hear its call, and read more about it here:

Posted in Reading & Literature, Subject Bible & Theology, Subject History & Geography, The Robinson Booklist

G.A. Henty and the Christian Worldview

Sabbath Eve

As a Robinson Curriculum user, I found this post by Daniel J. Mount to be very interesting.  Basically, Mr. Mount argues that Henty’s books actually undermine a Christian worldview by promoting ecumenism, masquerading as gods, astrology, occultism, witchcraft, evolution, racism, and objectionable language.  This is good to know for anyone considering using Henty’s books in their homeschool so they can decide what is appropriate for their children.

Although the Robinson Curriculum promotes the books, we don’t actually use them, although we do own The Cat of Bubastes and In Freedom’s Cause.  I have read The Cat of Bubastes and it didn’t blow me away.  Delightful only made it through a few pages before she asked to try something else.  If anyone is looking for an alternative to Henty’s books that has a more Christian worldview, I heartily recommend any of R.M. Ballantyne‘s books instead.

In the meantime, here are some quotes from Mr. Mount’s article showing how Henty portrayed Protestants, which is not how I generally want my religion to be portrayed to my children (although with some children books like this can inspire great discussions):

All But Lost:

“He hated the shop, he hated business, he almost hated his father. Heartily did he envy his associates in the shop, who at least, when the day’s work was over, could take their departure and be their own masters until the shutters were taken down in the morning. His drudgery never ceased, for when the shop was closed, his father, a great part of whose daytime was occupied by City business, would sit down with him at the desk and go into the whole accounts of the day’s sales until half-past nine. Then upstairs, where the servants would be summoned, and his father would take his place at the head of the table with a large Bible before him, which he would read and expound in a stern harsh manner, eminently calculated to make the Scriptures altogether hateful to those who heard him. This with prayer lasted for an hour. Then to bed; to begin over again in the morning.”[22]

Won By the Sword: A Tale of the Thirty Years’ War:

“My father brought me up a Protestant like yourself, and when I was quite young I had a very dreary time of it while he was away, living as I did in the house of a Hugenot pastor. After that I attended the Protestant services in the barracks, for all the officers and almost all the men are Protestants, and, of course, were allowed to have their own services; but the minister, who was a Scotchman, knew better than to make his discourses too lengthy; for if he did, there was a shuffling of jack-boots on the stone floor and a clanking of sabres that warned him that the patience of the soldiers was exhausted. In our own glen my father has told me that the ministers are as long-winded as those of Geneva; but, as he said, soldiers are a restless people, and it is one thing for men who regard the Sunday gathering as the chief event in the week to listen to lengthy discourses, but quite another for soldiers, either in the field or a city like Paris, to do so.”[23]

The Curse of Carne’s Hold:

“The missionaries made pets of them [the Hottentots], and nice pets they turned out. It is just the same thing in India. It’s the very dregs of the people the missionaries always pick up with.”[32]

[22] Henty, All But Lost, volume, chapter 3.

[23] Henty, Won By the Sword, chapter 6.

[32] Henty, The Curse of Carne’s Hold, closing paragraph of chapter 10.

Read more of Mr. Mount’s article here:

Posted in My Life

You’re Sinking Her Cake!

In which Mr. Chivalry has a funny adventure with the kids:

“How are you doing Sunny?” I asked with a big smile.

“Great Daddy,” she responds with an equally big smile.

“How about you Enigma?” I continue.

“Yup,” Enigma says without looking up from the sink.

I had just solved an argument of who was going to help daddy do the dishes by giving each child their own sink. They were now both busy washing specific dishes and spoons and other objects while chatting wildly to each other.  Charmboy was having a great time carting things back and forth in the hallway at full speed with his mini shopping cart, gleefully carting different items to places I would have to figure out later after bed time. I could hear Delightful diligently playing the piano in the dining room. She had already cleared the table half an hour ago, but my dish washing crew was still hard work doing their task.

All of a sudden, with great enthusiasm, Sunny declared to Enigma, “IT IS DONE!” and with that, hopped off her stool, dried her hands, and ran off into the dining room.

I looked into her sink and sure enough, it was empty of everything but the now stone cold water. I smiled, turning my attention back to scrubbing the stove while unplugging the sink at the same time.

Enigma let out a gasp!

“What?” I asked.

“You’re in big trouble Daddy!” Enigma replied, scrubbing a spatula for the eighth time. “You better call Sunny in here.”

“OH!” I exclaimed. “Sunny, Enigma says I need to see you about something, can you please come to the kitchen…”

Sunny comes skipping in with a paper in her hand.

“He pulled the plug, Sunny,” Enigma says to Sunny.

With perfectly practiced melodrama, Sunny falls to her knees, letting go of her paper as she descends,  clasping her hands on her head with a loud bellowing cry, “OH NOoooooo!” and bursts into tears.

“Sunny, what is the matter?!” I ask in shock. “Are you hurt?” (Delightful and Charmboy come running to see what is the matter).

“You’re sinking her cake,” Enigma calmly explains.

“I’m ‘sinking’ her cake?!” I repeat back, quickly replacing the sink plug to stop the ‘sinking.’

“YES Daddy! That was a cake, it was YOUR cake! It was still baking and now its ruined!” (Sob sob)

“I’m sorry Sunny, I didn’t know there was a cake in the sink, there is still some left,” I replied in an attempt to minimize the damage.

Enigma sighed, shaking his head at me…. it was so obvious to him.

“That just won’t do Daddy, the cake is ruined!” Sunny continued… “It’s too late now! There is not enough time tonight to remix everything together!… Here Daddy,” Sunny says as she picks up her paper and hands it to me.  “This is what your cake looked like….”

Looking at her drawing, I could see the cake had a chocolate bottom with a strawberry middle and a very colorful top.

“See that red dot on the top? Daddy, that is a cherry and I didn’t get to put it on the cake because cherries like that go on after the cake is baked!” Sunny sobbed.

“Sunny, I am truly sorry, I didn’t realize it was a cake. I hope you can forgive me for my insensitivity.”

She paused and looked at me for a few moments…. “I can… and will,” she exclaimed softly.

Wiping the tears from her eyes, she then moped out of the kitchen, Delightful and Charmboy curiously following after her in single file.

Enigma, still at his sink, looked at me again, shaking his head as he scrubbed the spatula for the tenth time.

“Do you have a cake, too, Enigma?” I ask.

“What?!” Enigma exclaims with a look of shock and disbelief on his face. “This is dishwater…. I’m done washing dishes and want to go play something else now… I love you daddy.”

“I love you too.”

Posted in My Life



After all this time?’


~Dumbledore to Snape, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by JK Rowling