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

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Whatchamacallit 2017

Our 2017 Whatchamacallit looks remarkably like Whatchamacallit did at the end of 2016. The end of 2016, we made a few small changes from the beginning of 2016, including the name. A year ago we called our Morning Time 'Circle Time.' As I began working with moms who call it a variety of things, I decided to call it Whatchamacallit - which is kind of perfect if you think about it. It's a catch-all name for a catch-all time of our school day.

And it seems like we do catch a little bit of almost everything during Whatchamacallit. As I said in my Circle Time (Beta) post a year ago, we've worked our way to this outline over the course of years.  I hope to give you some ideas of things you can do, not things that I think you ought to do.

Below is our current outline.  You can see our general "Three Big Blocks" as Pam Barnhill calls them. Each of our blocks are approximately 30 minutes. The middle block is always a little longer, but I either drop items or we fudge our time a little.  It just kind of works on any given day.

You can also see our loops - whether review loops or new content loops. We tend to do Whatchamacallit four days a week, with a fourth day changing up and doing somethin a little different - whether that's Mad Libs or Friday Free Write or Ecce Romani.

We start with the greeting (almost) that my friend Kortney taught us when she was on Homeschool Snapshots this fall. I changed the wording a little. I say the first part, the children respond with the rest. That has been a good reminder for all of us.

Our first block is a Worship Block.  We sing our opening praise, read scriptures, sing a hymn, review Bible and catechism. I received The Ology for Christmas and we're adding a page of that aloud. Then we close the first block with a review hymn.

Our second block is the Academic Block.  We loop through several different books - Laying Down the Rails, Handbook of Nature Study (supplemented by Nature Anatomy, another Christmas gift), the first My Book House (we have the rainbow set) book, and the Childcraft Mathemagic book. I read a little, the kids narrate a little, and we move on.  Then we read a new poem, right now from John Greenleaf Whittier, talk about it as needed, then work on our current poem and one previous poem.

We alternate weeks between Grammar and Writing for three days each.  We generally finish one grammar lesson a week and one Writing and Rhetoric lesson every two weeks. I'm not in a hurry. Grammar includes diagramming a sentence together and one individually.  You'll see on this list that Studied Dictation is included. Hope springs eternal that we'll return to this practice, but in truth, it has been a while.

We also throw two twenty sided dice and spend a few minutes finding the product of them 10 times or so.  The end of our Academic Block is reviewing Latin vocabulary (that link is for Latin for Children A, we're about to start B! Hooray!). I'm not sure why Ecce Romani is bolded in that picture.
The last block is the Beauty Block. During this part of the day we loop through our resources. Right now we're laying the groundwork to begin Henry V in Shakespeare; are continuing to use Art for Kids: Drawing; our composer for the term is from AmblesideOnline - Dittersdorf; our Artist is Giotto; we'll work on 'The Fish of the Sea' as our folksong; and we've been working for a year on counted cross stitch. We'll keep on keeping on - a little adds up and goes a long day.

We finish with a fun readaloud. Some days I read while the children draw or stitch. Some days our Beauty Loop is short and I can read for a long time. Shakespeare days we may only read a paragraph from our novel - but I try very hard to close every morning time with reading. We started The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy yesterday and I already have high hopes.

I suppose I could call our blocks Goodness, Truth, and Beauty - but maybe that's a bit much.

Whatchamacallit (Morning Time, Circle Time, Symposium, Morning Basket ...) is for you and your children.  It is for filling with what you, the mom, see is important or think would fit well.  Don't feel obligated to put something in it that doesn't work for your family. This works for mine.

Monday, January 09, 2017

The Simple Woman's Daybook for January 9, 2017

For Today... Monday, January 9, 2017

Looking out my window ... between the sky and ground, it's grey and white. And frigid.

I am thinking ... that my husband is smarter than I am (no surprise there). He chose to hire movers for the hand-me-down sectional from my parents and that was so smart. They moved it in a third of the time we could have thought about moving it.

I am thankful ... he convinced me.

One of my favorite things ... my new, red sofa with the comfy corner. Yay!

I am wearing ... jeans and a long sleeved amoeba tee shirt in purples, blues, and pinks.

I am creating ... I made geography notebooks for the children and me. I put in a blank political map of each continent and a blank physical geography map, too.  The front has a whole earth map.  Now, we can look up and mark locations from our reading. I'm pretty excited about them.

I am reading Kevin DeYoung's book Crazy Busy. Tweeted this quote last night:
I am hoping ... our first day of school portends well for the year.  We had a pretty good day!

I am learning ... about how preparation made narrations better. Since I had pre-read the sections, I could discuss and help my kids after their narrations were finished. Now to keep it up!

In my kitchen ... sloppy joes with cornbread topping tonight. A family favorite.

In the school room ... first day tradition: Self portraits :)

Post Script ... Jennifer Mackintosh from Wildflowers and Marbles offered these free checklists for weekly planning and review. Both of us were inspired by Celeste Cruz at Joyous Lessons - I posted pictures of my checklists here.

A moment from my day ... N-boy finishing his math.

Linking up with The Simple Woman.