Trivium Pursuit

Review of Hand That Rocks the Cradle

January 24th, 2015

You know when you sometimes look at a homeschooling mom and want to be a fly on the wall and take a peek at ‘how she does it’? Seriously, what laundry system does she use? Does she combine all the kids for history? Do they ALL play an instrument? Does she pull an apron over her head when she needs a quiet moment to pray amidst the chaos? Well, you might not get an inside peek at Laurie Bluedorn’s filing cabinet, but you get to pull up a chair by the fire and discover what kinds of books she read to her kids. Perhaps this is faulty reasoning (ah! I’m referring to the family who wrote The Fallacy Detective) but I’m certainly putting some clout into what mom read to the Bluedorn children, especially since they’ve turned out to be such terrific thinkers and authors themselves!

Nathaniel Bluedorn, oldest son of Laurie and Harvey Bluedorn, has compiled his favorite classics for children in this little gem of a book called Hand that Rocks the Cradle: 400 Classic Books for Children. In the intro, Bluedorn succinctly lays out the “why, how, and what” of reading aloud. He argues for classics that have endured the test of time (and some modern goodies) rather than light or abridged books. The books reflect their family’s conservative tastes and Christian values, but adventure is certainly not lacking!

Recommendations are organized by author with icons that describe the time the story takes place, geographic setting, and publication date. A simple reading level system helps parents select that perfect age-appropriate bedtime story. Its size makes it portable and reminds me of a grocery list that you can check off. Great for the history-loving family, there are many excellent suggestions that will transport your children to another time and place!

Hand that Rocks the Cradle includes many familiar authors and titles that seem to make it in other must-read lists, however there are quite a few books that I’ve not seen elsewhere. Classics such as Treasure Island, Jane Eyre, and Sherlock Holmes are present, but the lesser-known or modern titles such as Penrod by Tarkington or Lemony Snicket’s Unfortunate Events series have surprising appeal. He also mentions which ones were his mother’s favorites, and which ones she refused to read but he put in anyway!

The synopses are just enough to get you hooked without giving too much away. Hand that Rocks the Cradle has an index that is helpfully organized by interesting categories (Backwoods, Maturing Character); however, there are no page references, which gets your alphabetizing skills working. I would have liked to see the books organized by titles as well. All in all, it’s very nice of Nathaniel Bluedorn to let me have the pleasure of this easy-to-use read-aloud list. Now to stoke the fire, grab my hot chocolate, and get my kids gathered around for a good tale.

Julie ?

HTRTC - 2008 - Cover - 29.indd


A serpent of unprecedented length

January 24th, 2015


Aulus Gellius (c. 125 – after 180 AD) — A Roman whose only book, Attic Nights, is a compilation of notes on grammar, geometry, philosophy, history and many other subjects.

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Attic Nights
Book 7, Chapter 3

An account, taken from the works of Tubero, of a serpent of unprecedented length.

1  Tubero in his Histories has recorded that in the first Punic war the consul Atilius Regulus, when encamped at the Bagradas river in Africa, fought a stubborn and fierce battle with a single serpent of extraordinary size, which had its lair in that region; that in a mighty struggle with the entire army the reptile was attacked for a long time with hurling engines and catapults; and that when it was finally killed, its skin, a hundred and twenty feet long, was sent to Rome.


Aulus Gellius on Blood Letting

January 24th, 2015


Aulus Gellius (c. 125 – after 180 AD)

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Attic Nights
Book 10, Chapter 8

That among the ignominious punishments which were inflicted upon soldiers was the letting of blood; and what seems to be the reason for such a penalty.

1  This also was a military punishment in old times, to disgrace a soldier by ordering a vein to be opened, and letting blood. 2 There is no reason assigned for this in the old records, so far as I could find; but I infer that it was first done to soldiers whose minds were affected and who were not in a normal condition, so that it appears to have been not so much a punishment as a medical treatment. 3 But afterwards I suppose that the same penalty was customarily inflicted for many other offenses, on the ground that all who sinned were not of sound mind.


There may appear some flaws at present, but there will be none in the end

January 9th, 2015

When we worry…….

1. We communicate to the Sovereign Maker of the universe that we don’t think He cares for us or that He is capable of taking care of us; and

2. We communicate to all the little munchkins around us (who are watching every move we make and hearing every word we speak) that Worry is how we respond to the problems of life, though perhaps adding a dab of prayer here and there.

…Judge nothing before the time. When the end comes, pass a judgment on providential dispensations; not before. “Whoso is wise, and will observe these things, even they shall understand the lovingkindness of the LORD“ (Psa 107.43). David’s haste might have cost him dear. “I said in my haste, All men are liars” (Psa 116.11). “Samuel and all are liars: I shall never obtain the kingdom; I shall now perish by the hand of Saul.” It was well God did not take him at his word, as he refused to credit God. God works often above means, sometimes without them: nay, sometimes contrary to them; but it is a settled rule with Him, which every believer has found true in experience, namely, “He led them forth by the right way, that they might go to a city of habitation.” There may appear some flaws at present, but there will be none in the end; it will appear to be the right way. Wherefore, “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4.10). Humbling providences are sweetest in the end, for they bring a man to himself; and till a man be thoroughly emptied of self, he can never, as he ought, prove Christ. –John Hill (1711-1746), It Is Well



Here’s a taste of ancient Roman literature

January 7th, 2015


Aulus Gellius (ancient Roman author and grammarian) (c. 125 – after 180 AD)

Attic Nights
Book 5, Chapter 16

On the function of the eye and the process of vision.

1  I have observed that the philosophers have varying opinions about the method of seeing and the nature of vision. 2 The Stoics say that the causes of sight are the emission of rays from the eyes to those objects which can be seen, and the simultaneous expansion of the air. 3 Epicurus believes that there is a constant flow from all bodies of images of those bodies themselves, and that these impinge upon the eyes and hence the sensation of seeing arises. 4 Plato is of the opinion that a kind of fire or light issues from the eyes, and that this, being united and joined either with the light of the sun or with that of some other fire, by means of its own and the external force makes us see whatever it has struck and illumined. 5 But here too we must not dally longer, but follow the advice of that Neoptolemus in Ennius, of whom I have just written, who advises having a “taste” of philosophy, but not “gorging oneself with it.”


Review of Teaching the Trivium

January 6th, 2015

When my husband and I first began considering home education, a dear friend recommended Teaching the Trivium. I remember her telling me not to borrow it, but just purchase my own copy. She told me “Even if you choose not to homeschool, it is full of wise Scriptural parenting advice.” She was so right! The Lord used this book to challenge our thinking about family life and education. More than that, our philosophy of parenting is strengthened by the rich Scriptural encouragement and exhortation throughout the book.

In Teaching the Trivium, the Bluedorns begin by laying a thorough foundation of how Biblical Classical Education is defined. The history of classical education is discussed, and they show how that method was actually used in Hebrew culture. From Proverbs, they use knowledge, understanding, and wisdom to label the three stages of the trivium. They show from Scripture how the trivium is based in our “created nature.” (p. 87) This book is not just full of opinion. Much Scripture is used to support and explain their material. This allows the reader to think critically and reach a decision regarding home education. The Bluedorns thoroughly discuss the educational and spiritual faults and dangers of modern secular education to believing families. Also mentioned are reasons that Christian school or classical schools still do not follow biblical guidelines best for child rearing and education.

After laying the foundation, very detailed suggestions are given of material to teach your child in various subjects during each of the three stages of development. As a mother of a young daughter, I am encouraged by Teaching the Trivium’s emphasis on character training and biblical knowledge over traditional academics. Christian parents are reminded that our ultimate educational goal should not be knowledge for the sake of knowledge; but teaching our children their need for God, and how to love and serve God. The Bluedorns also mention suggested schedules of typical family days in the various developmental categories. Ways to occupy younger siblings while including them in family study are suggested.

Teaching the Trivium answers common objections to the various topics throughout the book. One objection that is affirming to our family was their thoughts on homeschooling an only child. They remind the reader of God’s sovereignty in building one’s family. Other common objections addressed include parents’ education and socialization of children. The Bluedorns remind readers that parenting through real-life situations and service is what will socialize our children and teach service for the family of God.

There are multiple appendices covering historical essays of educational philosophy or further discussing issues and philosophy mentioned in the body of the book. One such essay discusses why the Bluedorns believe formal math education should be delayed, instead teaching real-life math throughout one’s daily life. Another is an extensive list of sources for contests in which you could involve your student. The Bluedorns also include a discussion on family Bible study.

Overall, though I was first intimidated by the size of the book, I am amazed at how God used it to encourage and challenge us. This is an incredible reference resource to keep on your bookshelf! Many fears and pressures in our minds regarding home education were relieved after reading this book. We are reminded that the size of our home, the size of our budget, or our advanced degrees do not matter when following the Lord’s leading to home educate our children. Christian parents simply need to ask God for the courage and wisdom to challenge society’s standard thinking and follow as the Lord directs. We find Teaching the Trivium to be an excellent tool on our path following Deuteronomy 6:4-9. I now echo my friend’s recommendation. Buy a copy of this book, do not borrow one. Your Biblical parenting and your home education will be enriched.

Sarah Andrews


The Old Deluder

January 6th, 2015


Well, I just want to thank you for taking time out of your busy day, and giving me this article Ten Things to Do Before Age Ten. I feel so much better. To be honest, this is very close to what I have been doing with him already. I’m not too sure on the memory work though. Can I be so bold as to share with you — God used you in a mighty way in my personal life yesterday, when you wrote that little email. I have been suffering from such a deep depression with this recent exacerbation. I can’t put it in words, but just trying, I will tell you I truly believe your encouraging words have helped me have the best day, mentally, that I’ve had in four months. Thank you. I truly believe God is healing my depression, and finally I feel it for the first time, physically too. I hope this make sense. Well, I just wanted to let you know that, and hope it encourages you, even if it’s a small amount in comparison to the encouragement you have given me. God Bless you and your entire endeavor. Hope this isn’t too mushy or anything. P.

Yes, depression is such a monster. It covers us up like a thick and heavy blanket, distorting our hearing, seeing, and thinking, making us believe things that just aren’t so. I think Satan uses it as his first line of attack and has many of us tangled up in it. I’ll pray for you if you pray for me. OK? Let’s not let the Old Deluder have his way.


Dysgraphia and Math

January 6th, 2015

I just read the article Math and Pencils, and I wanted to share something that might prove helpful. I hope you will consider this information.

My son was also allergic to his pencil. We used Saxon and he hated it. When we did the practice tests at the beginning of each lesson he would take an average of 17 minutes to complete it when he had a pencil in his hand. If I went over the quiz orally, he was under 3 minutes. Frankly, I thought he was being lazy or was just distracted.

His handwriting in general was also less than desirable.

I stumbled across an article about dysgraphia in a homeschool magazine and my son lined up perfectly with some of the characteristics of someone with this challenge.

After I realized that it wasn’t about being lazy or distracted, I made a few modifications to how we learn, and he blossomed. He is a very bright child but he couldn’t produce the words/answers in his head in written form. His memorization skills are off the charts, but his writing skills are sub par. We allow him to type much of his work, and over time, his written math work (we use CTC Math now) has greatly improved — no more 2-hour sessions to get 20 problems done.

I hope this might help someone who has similar problems.



My New Adventure

January 4th, 2015


My fortune cookie this week


About two years ago I was introduced to essential oils. I was first drawn to their use in aromatherapy.

Aromatherapy and Essential Oils


Diffusing essential oils throughout the house. Heavenly.

As I learn more, I’ll share it here.


Which Latin — does it make any difference?

January 4th, 2015

Why do you recommend Classical Latin over Ecclesiastical Latin – since the Latin Vulgate is written in Ecclesiastical? I would love to know because I am planning ahead… –Amy

Ecclesiastical Latin vs Classical Latin just refers to the pronunciation of the words, not to the grammar. In the past we have preferred the Classical pronunciation — when we were young and picky. Now that I am old and find that there are more important things to worry about, I will say it doesn’t matter one bit which you choose. –Laurie Bluedorn