Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Schedule

The Schedule @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Feel free to laugh along with me.

Way back in May, I posted our general plans for this coming school year. I’ve been procrastinating and avoiding school planning since then. We are only a week away from the start of our community’s Classical Conversations Challenge program, so I figured I couldn’t avoid it any longer.

I truly am having a difficult time wrapping my brain around what our days might look like. All four of my children need almost constant help or supervision (hello, distractible, writing-averse, verbal-processor children), and they are all doing different work this year. We had an extremely relaxed year last year (and months and months of “summer”), so this is going to be a bit of a shock to our systems.

Levi is in Challenge 1 (9th grade). Luke is in Challenge A (7th grade). Leif is in Foundations and Essentials (5th grade). Lola is in early Foundations (K). They will be doing very little of the same work, and they can’t be in the same room together or they are completely distracted. But they need my help and supervision at all times. Hahahaha!!!

I’ve used Luke’s Challenge A work as the primary unifying schedule and worked the others in and around him. I’ve bolded my priorities for teaching and assisting.

I really have no idea how much time these subjects and skills will take, and I’m sure there will be a great deal of adjusting. But if I don’t make a schedule, our days will be chaos, we won’t get started in a timely manner, boys will need my help when I cannot give it, and lessons will not happen.

Challenge begins two weeks before Foundations and Essentials, so that will give us extra time to figure out what sort of schedule will work for all the kids. We are also on break from swim team for a few more weeks, so that will help as well. (Levi has a broken foot, so that may make the “break” a little longer. He’s hoping to swim for the local high school, and I don’t know what their swim schedule will be.)

I’m not sure where piano lessons will fit into this mix. They haven’t been scheduled. And Levi and his friend McKinnon may be working together two days a week for certain subjects (one day with his mom, Char, and one day with me), so that will mix things up even more.

And I really have no idea where Lola fits into this day (other than distracting her brothers and disaster-izing the house and interrupting me—all day long). I’m not too worried about her academics.

[Our community day is Monday, so this is the general outline for the rest of the week.]

Tuesday- Friday School Schedule

6:00  Wake up/shower/quiet time

6:45  Wake up boys/put on music/make tea

7:00  Morning chores (everyone)

7:30  Breakfast/clean-up (everyone)

8:00  Symposium (everyone together)

Outside! (exercise on porch or walk down driveway, observe weather)
Prayer (loop schedule)
Song/hymn (loop schedule)
Bible reading
Memory work (loop schedule: poetry, speech, Bible)
Beauty (loop schedule: art, music, MCT poetry)
MCT Vocabulary

9:00  Latin [F/E: Independent work]

[10 minute exercise break]

10:00  Math (+snack)

[5 minute exercise break]

11:00  Science [F/E: Veritas history online, assigned reading]

12:00  Lunch

12:30  Geography [Ch 1: Debate/American Documents]

1:30  Lost Tools of Writing [Ch 1: Debate/Drama/Music Theory; F/E: Independent work]

2:15  Rhetoric (reading and note-taking, memory work) [Ch 1: Lost Tools of Writing]

3:00  Piano Practice [F/E: IEW (writing)]


3:45  Swim Practice

[Me: exercise, errands, lesson planning, pre-reading, meal prep, house cleaning]

6:15  Dinner

Evening: Whatever didn’t get done during the day



F/E Independent Work: IEW Fix It, Essentials grammar chart copy work, Foundations memory work review, piano practice, Song School Latin, typing practice, Duo Lingo Spanish, Veritas self-paced history, Sheppard Software geography games, map tracing, presentation preparation (might need some help with that one), assigned reading in all subjects, Khan Academy math. I need to squeeze in spelling somewhere, but that is not independent.

F/E assigned reading and some of our Symposium work will come from this list and especially this one.



Now I need to set up work stations for each of the boys with easy access to all of their books and materials.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Liturgy and Children’s Movies

Liturgy and Restful Teaching @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Liturgy” has been on my mind all summer long. I have several long blog posts in the works, and The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and “Women’s Work”; The Monk Who Grew Prayer (picture book); and Wisdom from the Monastery: The Rule of St. Benedict for Everyday Life are on my night stand.

As I was watching (again) Jenny Rallens’ video lecture The Liturgical Classroom and Virtue Formation, I was reminded of the above passage from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery—”leisure” also having been on my mind for the past couple years. The Little Prince has important words for children and adults alike on the subject of being human. Our culture is so focused on efficiency and entertainment, we forget that walking at our leisure toward a spring of fresh water is often the point.

The Little Prince has recently been made into a beautiful children’s movie. The original story is something of a book within a book movie, as the movie does not follow the original plot (because it doesn’t have much of one—it’s more of a dreamy philosophical ramble). The movie keeps the theme and spirit of the story, however, and it is masterfully rendered.

Bonus: The Little Prince is on Netflix streaming.


And then today, in a discussion on Facebook (truly, one of my favorite places because of the friends I’ve made, the pages I follow, and the groups to which I belong), I discovered Shaun the Sheep Movie. I’ve loved the animated shorts, but I didn’t realize that a movie had been made.

The Liturgies of ‘Shaun the Sheep’ @ Christ and Pop Culture connects all the dots for me. Delightful synchronicity

When we think of liturgical worship, our minds probably jump to its verbal components. If we do, drawing analogies between Shaun the Sheep Movie and church life might appear odd, given the film’s complete lack of comprehensible dialogue. Yet as Smith points out, liturgies are deeper than mere rational exercises, and they are meant to embody loves through habit. God’s Word itself reflects this fact.

Bonus: Shaun the Sheep Movie is free streaming for Amazon Prime members.

Stay tuned for more on Liturgy.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Winchester Bay Adventure

Winchester Bay, Oregon @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We traveled to Coos Bay, Oregon, this past weekend for a swim meet. It was our first time attending this particular meet. It gave Russ and me an opportunity to visit the area where we lived when we were first married. Russ was coaching a swim team and teaching in Reedsport and house-sitting/renting a little beach house in Winchester Bay when we were married and I moved to join him twenty years ago. The above lighthouse and lake were within walking distance of our beach house (which had a gorgeous view of only vegetation and ocean!).

The lake is small and quiet and a one-mile trail loops around the water. It wasn’t our regular long hike, but it was a lovely and sentimental hike to do as a family on a beautiful Sunday afternoon.

Lake Marie Trail @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLake Marie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

A slight detour from the trail takes a hiker right out onto the dunes with a glimpse of the ocean.

Dunes at Winchester Bay @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesLake Marie Trail 2 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We had a great weekend at the swim meet, though Thursday we went from 93 degrees in the valley to a misty and breezy 53 degrees on the coast. I was not prepared! But Friday and Saturday were sunny and beautiful (if chilly in the shade). Russ and all 3 boys competed. Lola played and played with friends. We camped in a tent. We spent quality time with two other families.

The pool facility is part of a large and beautiful park, which we enjoyed. It has a neat Japanese garden, where Lola and I spent some time. She recognized the bamboo right away and spent some time playing with a new little friend, pretending to be panda bears (when she wasn’t under the bridge reciting lines from The Billy Goats Gruff).

We traveled back up to Reedsport on Saturday evening to visit with dear friends, whom we had not seen in many years. They fed us a delicious dinner and housed us for the night. It was so great to catch up and just enjoy their company.

The boys are now taking an end of summer break from swimming (Levi timed his broken foot well), but Russ competes in the 2016 U.S. Masters Swimming Summer National Championship in Gresham, Oregon, next week.

Thompson’s Flour Mill Adventure

Thompson's Flour Mill @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We went on a little adventure this past weekend and I’ll post about that next, but I decided against a hiking adventure this week. Instead we went with Holly, Ivy, and Daphne to tour Thompson’s Flour Mill in Shedd, Oregon, yesterday. Levi stayed in the truck with a bum foot (I took him to the doctor later that evening and discovered that he has three fractured metatarsals. Fun stuff.)

Thompson’s Flour Mill is a wonderful place to visit. Easy to find. Easy parking. Gorgeous scenery. Great hours. Multiple guided tours a day. Not busy. And FREE.

Our tour guide (we had her all to ourselves) was a retired school teacher, and she was excellent with the kids. She asked their names once and then proceeded to call them by name correctly for the full tour (over an hour and a half). The tour includes hands-on activities for the kids. They each had a chance to make the gears move.

Thompson Flour Mill 3 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And a chance to clean, grind, and sift flour by hand.

Thompson Flour Mill 4 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The mill is under some construction at the moment, but our tour guide started up the mill under electricity so the kids could hear what it sounded like and see the grain elevators and cleaners moving.

Thompson's Flour Mill 7 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesThompson's Flour Mill 5 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesThompson's Flour Mill 6 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesThompson's Flour Mill 2 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The mill is the oldest water-powered mill in Oregon. The first mill was built in the early 1800s and then was destroyed by fire. Parts of this mill were rebuilt in the 1860s while Abe Lincoln was president. The silos were built in the early 1900s. It was a money making mill until 2002 (first milling flour, then animal feed, and lastly generating electricity).

Thursday, August 11, 2016

The Students of Mt. Hope Academy ~ 2016

The Kids @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thinking of our first school picture photo session for these kids (well, three of them) here at Mt. Hope Chronicles just makes me want to sob. They were 5, 3, and 1 that fall. Now they are 14, 12, 10, and 5—the oldest is a nearly 6 foot tall freshman and my baby doll is headed into kindergarten!

The L Kids - 2016 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

You can read our basic plan for the coming school year at this link.

The Readers @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Wednesday, August 10, 2016


Contemplate the Beauty of the Earth @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Can you see the cave in the middle of the above picture? It is accessible by a trail along the cliff.]

At the end of last month, we spent several days on our traditional camping trip with family and friends—a tradition since my early childhood. Since we started having kids 14 years ago, we stopped overnight tent camping as a couple. Russ took the boys on camping trips as soon as they turned 4, and I stayed home with the toddlers. We would often travel up for the day (sometimes a few days in a row) to be with everyone. That worked much better for us.

This year, however, we had no toddlers and Russ was able to take the time off work, so we all headed up to stay for several nights. My younger sister (however, again) found out why we had not been overnight tent camping as a family until this year. She and Ben made it two nights and then headed home to sleep on the third (since they hadn’t a wink of sleep the first two nights) and came up again the next day. I’m so proud of them and all the effort they made to keep their family adventuring, even if it isn’t much of a vacation for the adults of two strong-willed toddlers.

Camping 7 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I was happy to be able to just let the kids play without worrying much about them. Finally.

Camping 2 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

We have a great combination of kids. I love that they are making memories, just as their parents did as kids together. Ilex and Drake and Drake’s girlfriend, Jess, were able to come up for the day on Sunday with Casey. For the rest of the week, Levi and Sweden (as the oldest and youngest kids, respectively) were the outliers. Luke and Leif, Ivy and Daphne (ages 9-12) were the big kid pairs. Hudson and Grayson, Lola and Rilla were the little kid pairs (ages 3-5).

Daphne and Ivy @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesA Sense of Wonder @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesCamping 6 @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesCamping 9 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Nathan, Lindsay, Holly, Shannon, and I all grew up here as kids. To have our spouses and kids here with us is a dream.

And our parents, too! [Do you think we can fit one more person in this tiny lagoon? There is more water, but we were following the sun and enjoying each other’s company.]

Camping 5 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I went hiking and climbing at the falls but didn’t bring my camera, so this is all you get to see of the trail.

Camping @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Below is Dragon Island. Can you see all the dragon eggs waiting to hatch?

Camping 3 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

And more jumping and swimming.

Camping 4 @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Golly, I just love this place and these people. My cup runneth over.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Story Moves the Hearts and Minds of Men

Story Moves the Hearts and Minds of Men @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

:: Story Lines, not Party Lines by Rod Dreher @ The Imaginative Conservative

What happened brings to mind Pope Benedict XVI’s observation that the most convincing arguments for Christianity aren’t propositional arguments at all but rather the art and the saints that the faith produces—that is, the stories Christians tell and live…

Argument has its place, but story is what truly moves the hearts and minds of men. The power of myth—which is to say, of storytelling—is the power to form and enlighten the moral imagination, which is how we learn right from wrong, the proper ordering of our souls, and what it means to be human…

Kirk understood that the world might be won or lost on front porches, in bedrooms at night, around family hearths, in movie theaters and anywhere young people hear, see, or read the stories that fill and illuminate their moral imaginations. If you do not give them good stories, they will seek out bad ones.

“And the consequences will be felt not merely in their failure of taste,” Kirk said, “but in their misapprehension of human nature, lifelong; and eventually, in the whole tone of a nation.”

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Let Us Tell Better Stories to Our Culture, to Our Children

Tell Better Stories @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

What story will we tell our culture?

What will it reveal about what we believe, love, and allow into our hearts to shape our affections?


:: Stories are Light; Ranting is Arson by S.D. Smith @ BreakPoint

'Chuck Colson wisely said that “politics is downstream of culture.” And what feeds the ecosystem of culture more than anything else? Stories. Stories. By the time the election comes, it’s too late. It’s been too late for a long time. Our hearts were already won over by the stories we loved as children, the tales that shaped us as profoundly as anything else in life. Likely more.'


:: The Age of Hooper: On Calculation, Poetry, and the Grace That Will Save the World by Andrew Kern @ CiRCE

"You cannot build a business on calculation, not to mention a family, a household, a tribe, a city, a state, or a confederation of states.

"You cannot build a moral code on calculation.

"You cannot reduce instruction or assessment to calculation.

"You cannot do philosophy or theology with calculation.

"It is not information that will save the world, but grace; and grace comes in the story of an image-restoring Son."


:: Tolkien Alternatives to the “Benedict Option” @ Crisis Magazine

"There are times when the burden of need and our own limitations might tempt us to become discouraged. But precisely then we are helped by the knowledge that, in the end, we are only instruments in the Lord’s hands; and this knowledge frees us from the presumption of thinking that we alone are personally responsible for building a better world."


:: You Barely Make a Difference, and That’s a Good Thing @ Ancient Faith

"We have no commandment from God to make the world a better place. We have no commandment from God to “make a difference.” Only God makes a difference, and only God knows what “better” would actually mean. As Christians, the proper life is one lived in accordance with the commandments. We should love. We should forgive. We should be generous and kind. We should give thanks to God always and for everything."


:: Flannery O’Connor’s Hollow Men @ The Imaginative Conservative

"Many of Flannery O’Connor’s stories portray the ineptness of men to uphold traditional ideals of manhood. The men show no leadership, they do not protect or care for their family members, they lack all manner of chivalry, and they lose a sense of priority as they commit to careers and professions or social and political agendas at the expense of their family members. In these stories, the failure of men to live with honor, integrity, and magnanimity leads to tragic loss of family members they neglected in their pursuit of political causes or personal desires."






:: Four Issues to Consider Before You Vote Trump – What is Really at Stake @ Samuel Whitefield

"Despite his wickedness, many Christians are being rallied to Trump’s cause by the idea that we must do anything to prevent a Clinton presidency. However, I want to say boldly that a Clinton presidency is not the biggest thing at stake in this election. The biggest thing at stake in this election is the church’s prophetic voice to the culture. The church’s role in the national discourse is at stake and that is far more important than who the next president is. Trading our voice in culture in an attempt to prevent a Clinton presidency should be a horrific thought to us.”

[If anyone comments on this post to tell me that any critique of Trump is support for Clinton, or that my vote for a third party is not actually a vote for a third party but a vote for Clinton, or that a third party can’t win, or that Trump’s character does not matter because Clinton is worse, or that Trump is a “Christian,” or that God can use anyone, or that character doesn’t matter because we are not electing a religious leader, or that I’m singling out Trump because I did not post about Clinton, or that we only have two choices because our secular world tells us so, or that I must not care about the world my children live in, then they have completely and utterly missed the point of this post.]


Are we telling stories of hope or fear? Love or hate? Do the right thing regardless of the outcome because God is in control, or the end justifies the means? Be a person of integrity even if no one is watching, or do what it takes to win? Christianity is the “long view” or American politics is the “long view”? In whom are we placing our trust and confidence and fealty?