Thursday, November 26, 2009

Book Reviews: Inkheart and Inkspell

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke was an awesome book for youth and adults alike. If you've seen the movie, the book is even better.

Mo, the father of Meggie has a love and passion for books. He is a book doctor and knows all the illnesses books can get and how to prevent and fix them. Resa is his wife and loving mother of Meggie. What Mo didn't know was that in addition to his love of books he had special gift- a gift of bringing books alive when he reads them aloud. They call him a silvertongue. He could read things or characters unintentionally out of a book. The problem is, if someone comes out of the book, someone goes into the book. He discovered this one fateful night when he was reading Inkheart and his wife Resa disappeared and several of the characters in Inkheart were standing in his house. Capricorn, one of Inkheart's villians, Basta (a villian) and Dustfinger one of the good characters were plucked out of their story and brought into our world.  Meggie was only a baby.

Ten years later Dustfinger found Mo and Meggie and begged for him to read him back. Mo knew he was unable to do it. The story goes from there and is one adventure after another. Mo wanted his wife back, Dustfinger wanted to go home to his story full of fairies, brownies and where fire did what he asked it to do.

This book makes you fall inlove with the beauty of books and makes you look at stories in books in a new light. I absolutely loved it!

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke is the sequel to Inkheart.   Funke is an amazing writer and really knows how to tell a story.  In this book, you spend a lot of time "in the book" Inkheart as Dustfinger is read back into his book near the beginning, but not by Mo. Meggie as you learn in Inkheart has Mo's gift -silvertongue, but she learned that she has more abilities with her gift.  She read herself and another character into the book.

Throughout the book you start to wonder if there really is a story going on when before, during and after the book has been written.  You learn to love the old fashioned artwork in books.  It is action packed and keeps you wondering what will happen next with so many twists and turns.  You learn why Dustfinger loves his world so much.

There were several things I did not like about this book.  It is written for youth but also for adults to enjoy, so keep that in mind.  Meggie is only 13 years old and falls inlove with Farid who I assume is between 16-18 years old.  He is like a love-sick puppy over her.  They kiss several times and are always together and even spend a night on the beach.  All the adults in the book not only approve of their romance, but encourage them-including her parents.  Mo even asks her in a teasing manner if Farid has kissed her yet and she blushes as her answer.

Almost all the couples are looking at or have a crush on someone else.  Dustfinger is in love with Resa.  Dustfinger is married.  Fenoglio the writer lusts after Dustfinger's wife.  The prince Cosimo has no interest in his "ugly" wife and instead spends his days and night's with Dustfinger's 13 year old daughter.

Additionally, most of the character's relationships are a bit dysfunctional and it's hard not to get frustrated with Dustfinger and his wife for throwing their hands up in the air regarding their daughter and her upbringing.  

Aside from these things, it was a spell-binding book.   I'm left hanging and will be reading the final book in the trilogy (Inkdeath) next year.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

We Want to Know You: Blog

By Shiloah Baker

My words fly up
my thoughts remain below.
Words without thoughts
never to heaven go.

Over the years I have met some amazing women- women who changed my life through their example or their mentoring me. When they moved away we lost touch because they were doers and not writers. How many times I wished those women would write-write their thoughts, their experiences and share their knowledge. Oh, the things we could learn!

Many people say, “I’m too busy to write- too busy living life.” To that I respond that there are many people who could use your mentorship through your example and writing about it. Writing about life, the ups and downs and how you learned from your experiences is a form of journal writing. How are our children to really know us if we don’t write?

The amazing thing about writing online is you never know who you will touch and how far reaching your words really are. Sometimes you’ll get some wonderful feedback in person or online, or sometimes people quietly read and take in what you share and allow it to enrich their life.

While I love to share my feelings in person with friends and those I meet, I feel that writing online is my way of sharing my thoughts and opinions in an unthreatening manner. I can also give unsolicited advice and people can read and take it if they want or move on to the next article.

To those who are currently writing on a blog or elsewhere, don’t hide your light under a bushel. How many blogs have I been to that I fell in love with the content and feel of the blog? The answer is many. When I like someone’s writings, I want to get to “know” them better and am taken aback when after sharing such a wealth of information they hide who they are and don’t give us an insight into their real lives. Sure there are some weirdos out there, but don’t let the fear of them keep us from getting to know you. Your writings have credibility when we know you are a real person. If you touch our lives with your writing, please further touch our lives with a glimpse into yours.

Everyone who loves life and family has something to offer. Everyone. I especially love reading from those who are passionate about life, Christ, family, hobbies, reading, writing, etc. and not necessarily in that order. It’s easy to begin a blog and share with the world. Take a chance today to touch someone or teach us through your writing.

Shiloah Baker is a mom of seven, pregnant with #8, married to the man she's madly in love with. Exercise is her vice. She runs a The Homemaking Cottage and homeschools. In her spare time she sews, crafts, writes and reads. Join us at The Homemaking Cottage Deluxe Edition for 897 ways to improve your home and family! And don’t forget to join our ezine for free ideas. Free Homemaking Newsletter

Reprints of this article are permitted as long as it includes this byline.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

How the Environment in the Home Affects Children

By Shiloah Baker

“Children are affected from the beginning by what they see and hear within the walls of their home. Their environment creates their taste.” –Arthur Henry King 

From the first day I learned that I was going to be a mother, I began collecting books, toys and things that I knew would benefit my child. I read every resource manual I could get my hands on. Like most women, I want the best for my child. I quickly learned that in addition to providing shelter, clothes, food and love, that the environment in the home is an important key to raising a well adjusted child.

Creating an Environment for Learning

Years later when I decided to homeschool my children I was introduced to the Thomas Creating an Environment for LearningJefferson Education or a Leadership Education. One of the suggestions was to build a library of classic books. I had maybe a small bookshelf full at that time and not surprisingly my kids weren’t big readers. I took the advice to heart and over the next four years I gathered and built a large “brain” storage of books for our home. We have over eight bookshelves now spilling over with fun, classic and educational books. More importantly, my children have caught on to this passion for reading good, wholesome literature-literature that educates. Not a day goes by that I don’t see the children pouring through books, rifling through the bookshelves or reading in a corner. We have a large bookshelf outside of my bedroom door which is at the end of a long hallway. When a child is waiting to speak with me, she naturally chooses a book, sits by my door and takes a little adventure with words on the pages. What joy it brings me to see the difference having a library of books in your home can make.

“Every single item is of relevance to our education and to the education of our children.”–Arthur Henry King

How many times have you noticed your baby would rather play with empty boxes or magazines than her own baby toys? Children always want to help mommy bake cookies and can’t wait to learn how to make their first peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Children have a natural curiosity and we should allow them to explore and learn within the safety of our home.

Children learn naturally through their own environment. Why should a small child fill out a worksheet on how to match socks, when they can learn that same skill only using all their senses: the smell of the laundry detergent used, the visual senses of colors and patterns, touching the various textures of socks and occasionally tasting the texture of socks. I have many fond memories of sock folding growing up and trying the over-sized ones on my hands and sliding around the bare floors with them on my feet. The natural learning experiences within the home are powerful.

I’ve made it a mission to keep the majority of commercialized toys out of our home. They do not foster learning like a set of plain building blocks or a life-like baby doll with clothes and cloth diapers. Even though they wanted them and got them for birthdays, my children have never treasured commercialized toys (such as Barbie dolls, Bratz, etc.). After the initial excitement wears off, I find those toys lying around unused with little to no interest. We have never had that happen with puzzles, wooden beads, blocks, or art supplies- the basics for foundational and explorative learning.

Organization and Structure

I used to cringe when I heard those words, but now as a mother of many I feel excited and inspired when I see them. After being a mother for nearly fourteen years I have learned that children, some more so than others, thrive when there is structure and organization in the home. We have seven children, two children with autism and two others with various disabilities. When things become chaotic in our home, not only do our family pets react (i.e. birds chirp frantically) but the children react to it too. Every family has a rhythm whether they realize it or not. The question is- is it conducive to teaching and does it promote family time?

I love reading Steven and Teri Maxwell who have written a couple of books on this subject. They successfully homeschooled and raised eight children and now write about how they did it- it involved scheduling, structure and organization. “God has given us a powerful example and analogy of scheduling in the natural world. Everything that He has created, from atoms to the universe, has a periodic cycle. There is a timetable God has applied to each part of His creation. This is easily seen in the weather. Year by year, each season comes at its ‘scheduled’ time bringing with it predictable changes.” (1) If God uses scheduling, I believe it is an example to us that using a family schedule is something we should do too.
While it is unnecessary and too constricting to schedule all of your time, coming up with a family schedule/rhythm for each day gives the home an organized environment while giving peace to each family member so they each can know what to expect in their daily routine. This is especially important if you have children or adults in the home with disabilities. Eliminate the disordered feeling and house clutter by prayerfully creating your own unique family rhythm complete with chore time.

Keeping a Morally Clean Environment in the Home is Imperative

"Parents now are concerned about the moral and spiritual diseases. These can have terrible complications when standards and values are abandoned. We must all take protective measures.” -Boyd K. Packer

Memories from books and the pictures in the books teach, mold and shape a person. Just as we should fill our homes with uplifting and wholesome books, we should be equally as careful about not bringing anything contrary to that in the home. I heard it once said that if a young boy were to view pornography in his own home he will be a customer for life. Is it worth it to allow anything pornographic in your home? Never. Aside from the fact that it is morally wrong, the risk is too great.

Regarding music-while I am fairly careful about lyrics to the new music, it is easy for things to slip by our notice from time to time. I find that I feel inspiration often to continually sift through the music my family and I listen to. We are all aware of the powerful effects of music on our moods. Music teaches and depending on the words and the beat it can teach negative or positive things. By my vigilantly reviewing music, talking with the kids about their feelings on the songs and reading the lyrics online my family is learning to do the same. Even though you may not always listen to the lyrics, your subconscious mind does and then records it. I think I would rather know what my subconscious mind is recording by paying close attention to what I or my children listen to.

Television needs a filter like the computer. We don’t watch regular TV because the morals portrayed on everyday television, especially the commercials, are not in line with ours. Instead we rent Netflix and buy the movies we enjoy the most. We carefully screen the reviews and ratings before watching and buying movies.

Raising children is anything but easy; but it is so worth it. Each child comes to our home with his/her own unique personalities. I find it fascinating to see how for the most part, children naturally pick up many qualities of their parents, whether it be the habits they pick up, facial expressions or one or a combination of both parent’s temperaments. I have three sisters and while we don’t look exactly alike anyone can tell we are sisters when they listen to us talk or see our mannerisms. It is an art to take into consideration all the differences of personalities in the family and apply the perfect mix of teaching, religion, and love. Children can’t help but to be influenced by the home environment especially when the parents care so much about making it a positive one.

Works Cited

1. Maxwell, Steven and Teri. Managers of Their Homes. s.l. : Communications Concepts, Inc., 1998.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Important and Famous People Who Were Homeschooled

Homeschooling has produced some of the greatest men and women in history. Here is a list of famous people-people who have made a difference in this word- who were homeschooled:

Constitutional Convention Delegates

* Richard Basseti – Governor of Delaware
* William Blount – U.S. Senator
* George Clymer – U.S. Representative
* William Few – U.S. Senator
* Benjamin Franklin – Inventor and Statesman
* Alexander Hamilton – Lawyer and Economist
* William Houston – Lawyer
* William S. Johnson – Columbia College President
* William Livingston – Governor of New Jersey
* James Madison – 4th President of the U.S.
* George Mason – Justice of Virginia County Court
* John Francis Mercer – U.S. Representative
* Charles Pickney III – Governor of S. Carolina
* John Rutledge – Chief Justice U.S. Supreme Court
* Richard D. Spaight – Governor of North Carolina
* George Washington – 1st President of the U.S.
* John Witherspoon – President of Princeton
* George Wythe – Justice of Virginia High Court


* John Adams
* John Quincy Adams
* Grover Cleveland
* Jefferson Davis (the only president of the short-lived Confederate States of America)
* James Garfield
* William Henry Harrison
* Andrew Jackson
* Thomas Jefferson
* Abraham Lincoln
* James Madison
* James Polk
* Franklin Delano Roosevelt
* Theodore Roosevelt
* John Tyler
* George Washington
* Woodrow Wilson


* Henry Fountain Ashurst
* William Jennings Bryan
* Winston Churchill
* Henry Clay
* John Dickinson
* Pierre du Pont
* Benjamin Franklin
* Patrick Henry
* William Penn
* Daniel Webster

Military Officers

* John Barry – Senior Navy Officer
* George Rogers Clark – Revolutionary War hero
* Nathanael Greene – Revolutionary War hero
* Nathan Hale – Revolutionary War hero
* Stonewall Jackson – Civil War General
* John Paul Jones – Father of the American Navy
* Robert E. Lee – Civil War General
* Douglas MacArthur – U.S. General
* George Patton – U.S. General
* Matthew Perry – U.S. Naval Officer
* John Pershing – U.S. General
* David Dixon Porter – Civil War Admiral
* Joseph Bradley Varnum – Revolutionary War hero

U.S. Supreme Court Judges

* Charles Evans Hughes
* John Jay
* John Marshall
* John Rutledge
* Sandra Day O’Connor

Religious Leaders

* Joan of Arc
* Dietrich Bonhoeffer
* William Carey
* Jonathan Edwards
* Philipp Melancthon
* Dwight L. Moody
* John Newton
* John Owen
* Hudson Taylor
* John & Charles Wesley
* Brigham Young


* William Clark – Lewis & Clark Expedition
* Meriwether Lewis – Lewis & Clark Expedition
* John Wesley Powell – Colorado River Expedition
* Sir Ernest Shackleton – Antarctic Expedition


* Wilson A. Bentley – “The Snowflake Man”
* George Washington Carver – agricultural research
* Pierre Curie – discovered radium
* Albert Einstein – theoretical physicist
* Paul Erdos – Hungarian mathematician
* Michael Faraday – electrochemist
* Pierre-Gilles de Gennes – French physicist
* Oliver Heaviside – electromagnetism researcher
* T.H. Huxley – biologist, zoologist, Darwinist
* Ruth Lawrence – mathematician
* Gilbert Newton Lewis – physical chemist
* Ada Lovelace – founder of scientific computing
* Benoit Mandelbrot – pioneer in fractal geometry
* Blaise Pascal – French mathematician
* Joseph Priestley – father of modern chemistry
* Samuel C. C. Ting – Chinese American physicist
* Konstantin Tsiolkovsky – Russian rocket scientist


* Alexander Graham Bell – invented the telephone
* John Moses Browning – firearms inventor/designer
* Peter Cooper – built the first modern skyscraper, the first commercial locomotive, and patented the first gelatin dessert which was later named Jell-O
* Thomas Edison – invented the stock ticker, mimeograph, phonograph, and electric light bulb
* Benjamin Franklin – invented the lightning rod
* Elias Howe – invented sewing machine
* William Lear – airplane creator
* Cyrus McCormick – invented grain reaper
* Guglielmo Marconi – developed radio
* Eli Whitney – invented the cotton gin
* Sir Frank Whittle – invented turbo jet engine
* Orville and Wilbur Wright – brothers who built the first successful airplane


* William Blake – painter, engraver, poet
* John Singleton Copley – American Colonial painter
* Evelyn De Morgan – Pre-Raphaelite painter
* Christian Grew – American Painter
* Donal Hord – San Diego sculptor
* Akiane Kramarik- 10-year-old art and poetry prodigy
* Claude Monet – French Impressionist
* Grandma Moses – American folk artist
* Charles Willson Peale – American portrait artist
* Lu Pinchang – ceramic sculptor
* Leonardo da Vinci – Renaissance artist, sculptor
* Andrew Wyeth – American realist painter
* Jamie Wyeth – American realist painter


* Johann Sebastian Bach – Baroque
* Irving Berlin – Patriotic
* Anton Bruckner – Symphonies
* Noel Coward – Musicals
* Felix Mendelssohn – Romantic
* Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart – Classical
* John Porcaro – Experimental
* Francis Poulenc – Choral
* John Philip Sousa – “March King”


* Louisa May Alcott – author of Little Women
* Hans Christian Anderson – fairy tale writer
* Margaret Atwood – Canadian novelist, poet
* Fawn M. Brodie – biographer
* Pearl S. Buck – Nobel prize-winning author
* William F. Buckley, Jr. – conservative writer
* Willa Cather – American novelist
* Agatha Christie – mystery author
* Samuel Clemens – a.k.a. Mark Twain
* Charles Dickens – British novelist
* Robert Frost – Pulitzer Prize-winning poet
* Charlotte Perkins Gilman – early feminist writer
* Alex Haley – African-American novelist
* Sharlot Hall – poet, writer, Arizona historian
* Joshua Harris- pastor and author of I Kissed Dating Goodbye
* Bret Harte – frontier California journalist
* L. Ron Hubbard – science fiction writer
* Helen Keller – blind and deaf author and lecturer
* Rose Wilder Lane – journalist, ghostwriter, daughter of Laura Ingalls Wilder
* C.S. Lewis – Christian writer and apologist
* Amy Lowell – Modernist poet
* Gabriela Mistral – Nobel-prize winning Latin American poet
* Sean O’Casey – Irish author
* Thomas Paine – political writer during the American Revolution, author of Common Sense
* Christopher Paolini – teen author of Eragon
* Isabel Paterson – conservative political author
* Beatrix Potter – author of Peter Rabbit Tales
* Jedediah Purdy – author of For Common Things: Irony, Trust, and Commitment in America Today
* Kenneth Rexroth – poet, translator, critical essayist
* Carl Sandburg – American poet
* George Bernard Shaw – Irish-born playwright
* Mattie J. T. Stepanek – 11-year-old author of Heartsongs
* Rosemary Sutcliff – historical novels for children
* Rabindranath Tagore – Bengali poet, essayist, dramatist, songwriter
* Leo Tolstoy – Russian writer
* Mercy Warren – American Revolution eyewitness
* Phillis Wheatley – African-American poet
* Walt Whitman – American poet
* Laura Ingalls Wilder – children’s book author
* Virginia Woolf – English novelist


* Amos Bronson Alcott – innovative teacher, father of Louisa May Alcott
* Catharine Beecher – co-founder of the Hartford Female Seminary
* Jill Ker Conway – first woman president of Smith College
* Erik Demaine – associate professor of Computer Science at MIT
* Timothy Dwight – President of Yale University
* William Samuel Johnson – President of Columbia College
* Horace Mann – “Father of the American Common School”
* Charlotte Mason – Founder of Charlotte Mason College of Education
* Joyce Reed – Associate Dean of the College, Brown University
* Fred Terman – President of Stanford University
* Frank Vandiver – President of Texas A&M University
* Booker T. Washington – teacher and founder of Tuskegee Institute
* Noah Webster – “Father of American Christian Education”
* John Witherspoon – President of Princeton University

Medical Practitioners

* Clara Barton – started the Red Cross
* Elizabeth Blackwell – first woman in the U.S. to receive a medical degree
* Florence Nightingale – Nurse
* Susan La Flesche Picotte – first American Indian woman physician
* Albert Schweitzer – Physician
* Mary Walker – Civil War physician; recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor

Business Entrepreneurs

* Andrew Carnegie – wealthy steel industrialist
* Amadeo Giannini – Bank of America’s founder
* Horace Greeley – New York Tribune founder
* Soichiro Honda – creator of the Honda automobile company
* Peter Kindersley – book illustrator and publisher
* Ray Kroc – founder of McDonald’s fast food restaurant chain
* Jimmy Lai – newspaper publisher; founder of Giordano International
* Dr. Orison Swett Marden – founder, Success magazine
* Adolph Ochs – New York Times founder
* Joseph Pulitzer – newspaper publisher; established Pulitzer Prize
* Colonel Harland Sanders – started Kentucky Fried Chicken
* Dave Thomas – founder of the Wendy’s restaurant chain


* Abigail Adams – wife of John Adams; mother of John Quincy Adams
* Ansel Adams – photographer
* Susan B. Anthony – women’s rights leader
* John James Audubon – ornithologist and artist
* Alyssa Buecker – director, Milbo Productions
* John Burroughs – naturalist
* Jennie Chancey – historical costumer
* Davy Crockett – frontiersman
* Edward Curtis – photographer
* Robin Lee Graham – youngest person to sail around the world at age 16
* Alex and Brett Harris – twin teen writers and conference speakers for “The Rebelution,” a Christian ministry/youth organization
* Eric Hoffer – social philosopher
* Sam Houston – lawyer; first leader of Texas
* Abraham Kuyper – Dutch politician, journalist
* Mary Leakey – fossil hunter
* Charles Fletcher Lummis – journalist, historian, photographer, founder of the Southwest Society
* Harriet Martineau – first woman sociologist
* Margaret Mead – cultural anthropologist
* John Stuart Mill – free-market Economist
* Charles Louis Montesquieu – philosopher
* John Muir – naturalist
* Raymond Parks – Civil Rights activist, husband of Rosa Parks
* Sofia, Susan, and Judit Polgar – chess masters
* Bill Ridell – Newspaperman
* Will Rogers – Humorist
* Eleanor Roosevelt – wife of Franklin D. Roosevelt
* Bertrand Russell – Logician
* Drew Ryun – co-founder of Generation Joshua, director of Jim Ryun Running Camp
* Ned Ryun – co-founder of Generation Joshua, president of American Majority
* Deborah Sampson – female soldier in the American Revolution
* Emerson Spartz – 12-year-old internet entrepreneur (MuggleNet)
* Herbert Spencer – philosopher, sociologist
* Gloria Steinem – founder of Ms. magazine
* Timmy Teepell – chief of staff for Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana
* Lester Frank Ward – Father of American Sociology
* Martha Washington – wife of George Washington
* Frances E. C. Willard – educator, temperance leader, and suffragist
* Frank Lloyd Wright – architect
* John Lloyd Wright – architect, toy designer, inventor of Lincoln Logs
* Sho Yano – gifted child prodigy
* Elijah ben Solomon Zalman – Jewish scholar

This list was compiled by Compiled by Teri Ann Berg Olsen, author of “Learning for Life: Educational Words of Wisdom”