Saturday, January 21, 2017

Our Weekly Amble for January 16-20, 2017

We had a pretty good week.  Things weren't as smooth as they were our first week - but frankly they never are.  The first week, even though restarting routine has it's challenges, they're challenges everyone kind of wants to face. They're starting back. They're ready for days to be predictable again.  The second week, it feels like monotony already and they think they want freedom from a somewhat restrictive schedule.  But we don't.  It's a war within ourselves to eschew the boundaries we love.

Most of our schedule went as planned. We arrived at our outside places on time.  We had our work done in a reasonable amount of time one day. On Thursday, on our way to organ practices, I fell out the front door with the dog. The day had already been challenging with a huge fit that required a call to Daddy to settle (that's the worst) and the internet being down.  I'm still relatively sore from falling half-in, half-out of the house.  That threw things off somewhat for Friday, too.

We worked throughour Whatchamacallit schedule three of four days.  We listened to our folk song for the month, looked at Mary Cassatt's painting of a mother bathing her child and watched this video about it. I had recently heard about the video on the At Home podcast so was pleased to share it with my children. We fought through some of our counted cross stitching - well, M-girl is not struggling.  We made our way through some more of The Chestry Oak, which I'm sure you understand I'm loving.  We have one more week of our "Review month" of Morning Time.  Jason has challenged the kids to refresh their Catechism for Young Children questions and answers and take them to the Elders to show they know it, so we've been reviewing that instead. It was a writing week, so we did a good part of our Writing and Rhetoric lesson, but did not Friday Free Write.

Math is going well. M-girl is still enjoying the ease of the beginning of a new math book review lessons.  N-boy is working on fractions and decimals and their relationship. R-girl is in a section on geometry and measurement.

The children finished Latin for Children Book A! Huzzah! It took us 2 years and at times was exasperating, but I feel quite accomplished that we've made it.  R-girl struggles the most, M-girl and N-boy are doing well. I'm considering letting M-girl work faster - one lesson per week instead of over two weeks. I'll need to ask her about that in our weekly meeting later.

We are caught up on all of our readings for Ambleside Online Year 5 with the exception of Kim which we are one chapter behind on. I'm hoping to fix that soon.  The children were all very pleased that Samuel Morse's story turned out happily, loved Mr. Halliburton's story of Joab's fissure under Jerusalem, and were more engaged with peat bogs from Madam How, Lady Why than I expected.

I took the time during my preparations last week to find some video and maps to share with them regarding the last two.  For Madam How, Lady Why we looked at a peat bog, a very simple video about glacial moraines, and pictures of garfish. The father also refers to pictures of Christmas Sound and Possession Bay from Captain Cook's travels, so we looked at those pictures.   This is what preparation has done - we have better lessons and the text is, therefore, more enjoyable.

M-girl is doing well with the added expectations. She's copying 1 Peter into a notebook (instead of the Shorter Catechism), has a commonplace book for quotes, and a geography record book to note places in.  The others also have geography records, but not the rest. I ordered Books of Centuries that should ship next week for us from Riverbend Press, so I'm not pushing her to add that quite yet. Her written narrations have improved sharply over the break.  I think she has come to see, with some maturity, how much she is capable of and that she needs to be more responsible.  I'm very pleased by this.

R-girl's written narrations - I only require two per week - are also much improved. She's taking her time with them. By freeing her from piano practicing, she is finishing her work more quickly every day. She also much prefers the Teddy Roosevelt biography we're reading now to the Lilias Trotter one from last term.

N-boy is still struggling with wanting to do the least amount possible and still get by. I think this is not an unusual attitude for children - it was certainly mine when I was his age - I think we need to talk about it.  He struggles mightily with being the only boy in the house for most of the day.

In the evenings we've been slowly working through The Young Peacemaker which is giving us a common vocabulary for conflict and resolving it.  We're also reading Swallows and Amazons, although we took a slight detour this week and Jason read Ray Bradbury's short story "A Sound of Thunder" to us and we had some intriguing discussions out of that.

We didn't go on our planned nature hike yesterday because I wasn't up for it, but Jason wanted to walk today, so he and the kids are on an adventure even as I type.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Hobbies and the Homeschool Mom

I've been writing a series for about Hobbies and the Homeschool Mom.  When I told Jason about it, he asked, "What's your hobby?" And, frankly I don't really have one.

I'm a dilletante.  I dabble.  Occasionally. A look at the variety of boards I have on Pinterest will show that clearly.

I decorate three cakes a year and pipe Christmas cookies with my mom.

I like to write and love the social aspects of blogging, so I blog a little.  And I read things to blog about. And I read a lot.

I love to cook so I cook.

I like the look of calligraphy and have always been interested in it, so I play around with hand lettering from time to time.

I go geocaching with my husband when dragged (don't tell him I like it).

I have been trying to improve my photography skills because of my slight obsession with Instagram.

I can crochet. I am able to sew just enough to get me into trouble. I can do some cross-stitching (although not patiently nor neatly).

I have a vast collection of crafty stuff in my basement: stamps, scrapbooking, sewing, craft paints, yarn, felt, stuff that needs to be organized and useable. I'm pretty good at following directions. Except knitting. My left hand is essentially useless.

As hobbies go, I'm pretty unsettled. Nothing has really caught my fancy like my friend Heather's photography. I don't have a passion for any of those things - nothing to drag me in and really make me desire to expend the time and mental energy on learning to do them really well.

Anyway, I'm thinking about it now because I've convinced myself that it's important.

Two weeks ago:


I'd love it if you'd join me over at Pam's and chat with me about it.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: We are

We are reading The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy during Whatchamacallit and I'm so invested in teh story.  It hits all my personal wheel-houses - beautiful writing, WWII, parenting.  I'm ready to cry almost every day it's so amazing.

Nana, the nanny to Prince Michael, has the most poetic way of speaking the most homey truths. She surprises herself with her flights of fancy but they are always poignant and eloquent.

The night Prince Michael was born, she had a vision. There was a cake depicting the whole Chestry Valley precisely (and as one who occasionally decorates cakes, I stand in awe of the description of this one!) and Nana sees the valley differently than she ever has before:
My heart began to pound and swell as I stood there, thinking thoughts strange and new to me. Around me, people were laughing and talking, the great hall was crowded, but for a while it was as if I was blind and deaf to sights and sounds around me. My eyes were on that sweet image of Chestry Valley, but I felt as if I were indeed a giant looking down into our valley. I saw every stone of the castle, every adz-hewn timber, every tree that was ever felled and those still standing, every furrow on plowed fields, every grain of wheat and every blade of grass, every tree that ever bore fruit in the orchards. I saw more than human eyes can see, for I saw the roots of things and the fruit. And each and every thing I saw I also heard, for each and had a voice of its own. They were the voices of men and women of Chestry Valley, long gone and still living, and they said, "Look upon us and listen. We are the furrow and the harvest, we are the spring and the mighty ocean, we are the roots and the tree. We are the bedrock and the stones that made the castle; we are the vein of iron in thebowels of the earth and we are the sword, the plow, the cross upon the spire of the church. We are the earth.

It made me consider times when we see things from a different perspective and understand a deeper truth. It may not be as visceral as was Nana's experience, but it may be just as jarring. Are we putting ourselves and our children in the way of seeing differently? That's part of what I'm considering as I contemplate this gorgeous passage.

The picture I chose, of a valley, was a picture I took in Austria as we drove between Venice and Innsbruck 20 years ago. The view I had reminded me of Seredy's words - of Nana's view. But the perspective is a bit skewed.  Behind the words, is a bridge, a causway and we are stopped if you could look to the left - at a BP station. It always seemed to me so odd that this idyllic, scenic view was taken from a place that's very existence was there to continue your journey away.

Nana's speech is also forcing me to wonder where my place is as part of the earth, part of the valley. Where am I part of the "We are ..." that repeats throughout the passage.

Monday, January 16, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook for Monday, January 16, 2017

For Today...

Looking out my window ... it's that dark that has a twinge of navy to it that says morning will be coming up over the edge soon.

I am thinking ... about all the things we have to do today - the list is long!

I am thankful ... that we have the wherewithal to do those things.  God has certainly given us good work to do.  (I keep telling myself that!)

One of my favorite things ... having everything pre-read for the week, notes, commonplace entries, and geography record done. I hope that I can learn to do this work more quickly and efficiently, but it is good to get started.

I am wearing ... orange and navy

I am have creatinged ... new forms to - hopefully - make our school year easier.

I am listening to ... podcasts. Hopefully catching up before next week when some of my favorites are back from hiatus. I listened to the CenterForLit this morning as they and Andrew Pudewa talked about Fantasy and Faerie.  So very good and much to chew upon.

I am hoping ... that this week goes even better than last week did. Hope springs eternal.

I am learning ... about so many things! Doing my children's school work has been eye opening moreso than just assigning it.

In my kitchen ... I have a plan  which always bodes well!

A photo posted by dawn (@ladydusk) on

I even have snacks made for my hobbits for this week ...

A photo posted by dawn (@ladydusk) on

In the school room ... assignment books are ready, new check-cards are ready, I'm feeling the most prepared for a week of school I've ever been.  That gives me a sense of peace ( ... is this how to }pacify{ ), but also a sense of foreboding.  Something to derail my plans, you know?

Shared Quote ... "You don't love yourself enough. Or you'd love your nature too, and what it demands of you. People who love what they do wear themselves down doing it, they even forget to wash or eat. Do you have less respect for your own nature than the engraver does for engraving, the dancer for the dance, the miser for money or the social climber for status? When they're really possessed by what they do, they'd rather stop eating and sleeping than give up practicing their arts.

Is helping others less valuable to you? Not worth your effort?" 

Marcus Aurelius talking himself into gettting up to start work for the day.
A moment from my day ... someone on Facebook complained about peeling garlic so I shared the contraption I use for the job.  Here's that picture.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Our Weekly Amble for January 9-13, 2017

It was our first week back!


We had a very productive week.  A few struggles here and there, but when people are together all the time, you have to think they'll rub each other wrongly from time to time.

You just hope they don't do so on purpose. Which, sadly, they do.

So we stop and correct then continue on. Sometimes school takes longer than I wish, but we're in for the long haul and someday it will be better.

Lord willing.

As first weeks go, it was pretty good, though!

We've added some new things for everyone - particularly for M-girl. Some things are tougher. Some things will help a lot.  I added new things for me - which is tougher. Some of the things are hard to track in our Spiral Notebook assignment books, so I made everyone a laminated index card with the requirements and check boxes:

They're color coded - mine is purple, M-girl's is red, N-boy blue, and R-girl is green.  I've had a hard time keeping track of narrations typed vs hand written, so I'm hoping this will help a lot. I also hope it will jog memories so that no one is scrambling at the end of Friday to check everything off - like M-girl and I were yesterday. (I just made N-boy's & R-girl's cards yesterday).

They match up with my new Weekly Meeting form that I was inspired to make (and copied almost completely from) by Jennifer Mackintosh. That post is so helpful! She had been inspired by Celeste to do better at weekly prep and at follow-through, so I added this one to the repetoire of forms I posted about last week. I'm printing it on the back of my Weekly Review checklist - one for the beginning and one for the end of the week :).

We had our firsts individual meetings yesterday and they were a hit with everyone! I felt like we had more connection based on the week that was past and expectations for the week to come.  Love that.  Now to ingrain the habit!

We did Whatchamacallit four days this week.  During January - the first three weeks of this term - we're doing all review for memory work. That means singing hymns, reciting Bible passages, poetry, and Latin review. We are moving forward in Catechism as we read Training Hearts, Teaching Minds by Starr Meade, but the children have learned their Catechism in Sunday School mostly, so it's mostly review too.  I added readings from The Ology which I got for Christmas, so that's fun.  I wrote about our Morning Time on Tuesday and that's what we've mostly done.

Those plans aren't too hard and fast, though - we did Shakespeare two days in a row. We're prepping to study Henry V as our AO selection and following Mystie's plans to some extent. The books she recommends are out of my budget and not available ILL, so I shopped my shelves and pulled my Usborne World of Shakespeare off the shelf.  We read the four pages about Shakespeare's history plays over two days. I was reminded why I don't readaloud from Usborne books, but we have a basic introduction to the sequence and some of what the play is about. We watched the St. Crispin's day speech from YouTube and my SIL is borrowing the Kenneth Brannaugh Henry V from her libary so we can watch it this coming week. I ordered the Folger's Henry V for Kindle, so I think we might take parts and read it aloud this time. We'll see.

In our Beauty Loop, we did two days of Shakespeare, one of drawing. Drawing is generally one meltdown by one child. I really like the Art for Kids: Drawing book we're using. Perhaps I need to find something else, though. LeSigh. Yesterday we listened to an Oboe Concerto and all enjoyed that. We read four days from The Chestry Oak and if I make it through the introductory chapters without crying it will be a miracle.

Monday being our first day of the new year, we did self-portraits, as always:

Wednesday, we did slightly different self-portraits at our Art with Friends group:

We're reading AO Year 5, Term 3 work. We only made it through half of the first chapter of Kim, but I think we can catch that up today. I'm really enjoying the Teddy Roosevelt biography Carry a Big Stick by George Grant and the George Washington Carver book. My kids are liking Story of the World 4.

We did math four days. It was a relatively easy math week for the girls, N-boy is in the throes of long multiplication and division.  M-girl is starting MEP Year 5 (yay!) and R-girl had a section about geometry and symmetry which are easy for her.  We began working on the final lesson of Latin for Children A. It's kind of nice to have that lesson after our long break, but it's a challenge for everyone!

Wednesday is a scheduled "off academics" day. We cleaned the house (and company wasn't even coming!) and went to the library (first time in months. Helped that we returned all the books [yikes]). We made it to church early enough that M-girl could do some organ practice before Art and Plutarch, then N-boy did some afterward.  We did the drawings above, played with our friends, and read Lesson 4 of Publicola which is how Valerius becomes consul.  It was a good discussion.

Edited to add: I knew I forgot something big! We were able to do Nature Study with our friends on Friday. We pulled out our Nature Pal Exchange goodies and other specimens we have, spread them out, and the kids and moms drew. Anna posted theirs here:

We did some music lessons and made a trip to the Y - I'd like to go more often next week! M-girl cooked dinner on Wednesday:

After dinner we've been working through The Young Peacemaker and Swallows and Amazons.

All in all it was an excellent week! How was yours?

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Wednesdays with Words: Urgent and Important

More from Crazy Busy:

Jesus knew the difference between urgent and important. He understood that all the good things he could do were not necessarily the things he ought to do. (pg 55)

Wordless Wednesday: N-boy's Chess Birthday