Pages

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Collect

Autumn did seem to arrive suddenly this year. It was on the first day of autumn during our brief morning walk that Leif brought the apples to my attention.

We have two ornamental crabapple trees (I think that’s what they are—I’m a poor naturalist), but one decided to grow an apple tree from the graft site at the base. Half of this tree is now crabapple, and half is apple. Surprise! It is a young tree, and this is the first year we’ve received a small crop of apples. The kids were delighted and had apples for morning snack after drawing them in their nature journals.

Connect

Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lola immediately searched her books and found How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She read through it, stopping to sing her continents song on the map page (naturally integrating her CC Foundations memory work, hurrah!). This book is similar to another favorite, Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle.

While traveling the world to gather ingredients for apple pie may be a bit unrealistic, I love that she knows where and how we get ingredients. She has picked fruit, ground wheat for flour, and watched a how-to video on milking cows (we’ve had cows grazing in our field before, but it’s more difficult to find someone with milking cows!). Next on our list are gathering eggs (maybe we can bribe Aunt Holly) and churning butter.

Bowl of Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Create

We had to make an apple pie, of course, so Lola helped me pick apples this morning and we managed to get a pie made.

Hot Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Now, for the realistic version: I did manage to get the pie made, even though I’m sick with a cold and all four children were disobeying and I finally told the two youngest to leave the kitchen because they were driving me crazy. The apples were little and a pain to peel and slice. I also managed to peel the skin off my finger and slice my thumb with a cardboard box. My crust turned out so flaky that it didn’t hold together well. I tried to use a form for cutting out cute little apples on the top crust, but they just looked like holes. After baking, the crust was browned, but the apples weren’t soft, and everything fell apart when I cut into it. The kitchen (and house) looked like a war zone. I ended up going back to bed to avoid it while the kids watched television instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing. The end.]

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Thistle

The Bull Thistle @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Collect

We have been observing the bull thistles in our field during each morning walk before symposium. We exclaim in delight when the purple crowns appear, and the kids have chosen the thistle for drawing in their nature journals a couple times (though they are hazardous to handle).

Connect

I found the above quote from an essay by Mary Oliver, because Mary Oliver always says what needs to be said about anything, profoundly, I might add.

If that isn’t quite enough for you, how about the beauty in this poem?

The singular and cheerful life
of any flower
in anyone’s garden
or any still unowned field–

if there are any–
catches me
by the heart,
by its color,

by its obedience
to the holiest of laws:
be alive
until you are not.

Ragweed,
pale violet bull thistle,
morning glories curling
through the field corn;

and those princes of everything green—
the grasses
of which there are truly
an uncountable company,

each
on its singular stem
striving
to rise and ripen.

What, in the earth world,
is there not to be amazed by
and to be steadied by
and to cherish?

Oh, my dear heart,
my own dear heart,
full of hesitations,
questions, choice of directions,

look at the world.
Behold the morning glory,
the meanest flower, the ragweed, the thistle.
Look at the grass.

Mary Oliver, The Singular and Cheerful Life (Evidence: Poems)

I’m a little partial to the thistle because I am part Scottish (my maiden name is of Scottish origin), and the thistle is the national flower of Scotland. But why?, you might ask. Why the thistle? I didn’t know, so I had to do a little research. Legends, heraldry, poetry. Good stuff. But what I loved most was the Latin Motto of the Order of the Thistle:

NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT

(No one attacks me with impunity)

This led to a search for the definition of impunity. No one has impunity (freedom from punishment) where a thistle is concerned, that’s for sure.

And Latin. Ah, Latin. My eldest son immediately translated “nemo” into “no one” and said that Captain Nemo of the Nautilus in 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea specifically took that name because of its Latin meaning. (And, of course, the Nautilus also has Latin meaning.)

Create

The kids sketch in their nature journals while I read aloud from Shakespeare Stories after our quick morning walk, but I felt like I needed to join them on this one, even if my sketching leaves much to be desired. I’m setting the example that it is okay not to be excellent at something. We do it anyway, with a cheerful attitude…

nemo me impune lacessit @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Glory Made Manifest

The Heavens Declare @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Collect:

Psalm 19 [Our Bible memory from The Heavens Declare (#12) and Luke’s CC Ch A catechism]

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

Connect:

[From MCT’s Caesar’s English, our vocabulary from the same Symposium as above picture/early morning walk and Psalm song/memory work]

Profound: deep, far-reaching, absolute, thorough, penetrating…

Prodigious: Great, enormous, marvelous, extraordinary, large, powerful, vast

Manifest: obvious, apparent, illustrate, evince, observable, evident, unmistakable

Create:

The heavens manifest God’s profound and prodigious glory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

End of Week 3 ~ Beginning Week 4

Expanding the Memory Work @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I never seem to get a week-in-review post up at the end of the week. We are still finishing up on Saturdays, and Sundays are busy with preparations for the coming week. So y’all get a “this is how last week went, and here’s how this week is going so far” post.

Here we are in the midst of week 4.

I’m still getting up by 6:15ish every morning (which is impressive considering how much I struggle to get out of bed). I make the bed immediately and then shower (and put on earrings and a little makeup) and then have quiet time. I don’t touch my computer (or look at my phone, other than the alarm and the time) until after these things are completed. That has made a world of difference. [But I still get “stuck” on my computer and don’t tackle breakfast and the rest of my morning prep as diligently as I should. I need to set a timer and severely limit my computer time.]

We are still starting symposium by 8 am, sharp.

I need to adjust our Wednesday schedule a bit to accommodate piano lessons and Levi spending time on Latin at a friend’s house.

But attitudes and focus have tanked.

It was bound to happen, and we just have to push through until we figure out how to work diligently, even when we don’t want to work hard. I keep coming back to this article by Angelina Stanford at CiRCE:

But, laziness is not inactivity; it’s doing something other than your duty. Laziness is polishing your shoes when you should be writing your research paper. It’s shooting 100 free throws to get ready for the big game instead of washing the dishes. It’s even offering to help others instead of memorizing those Latin forms. Laziness disguised as helpfulness is particularly deceptive. Laziness is so deceptive that it can even drive you to do something you really don’t like instead of doing your duty.

I’m trying to teach my oldest son that procrastinating may seem easier, but it increases our time spent on tasks as well as allows a black cloud to hang over us for prolonged periods of time. We’re bowed down by the weight of our “to-do” list, when, in reality, it may be a quick and much less painful thing to face the task immediately and get it done. The real weight of our tasks is distorted, and we dread them when we shouldn’t. Of course, I realize that I am still fighting this lesson, almost 30 years later. [Again, Charlotte Mason knew what she was doing when she focused on habit training in the early years.]

Until this new schedule becomes habit, it is going to be hard and painful at times. I may have had a few, um, “heated discussions” with my son in the past week or two. After an impromptu family outing on Saturday, we learned that it may be best to limit weekend activities until we figure out how to get our work done during the week.

I have continued to have as many formal family dinners as possible. Last Wednesday I stopped by the local farm stand on the way home from piano lessons. Between the fresh salmon my husband caught the day before and all the fresh produce, we had a feast. I decided to invite my parents over for dinner, which I hadn’t done in a very long time. I even set a formal family dinner on Monday evening, which is our usual frozen-pizza-made-by-children-while-mom-hides-under-covers-in-her-bedroom night. I stopped at the farm stand again this Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to fresh veggies until they close for the season.

We’re adjusting to a new swim team routine. After several years (five-ish?) at the pool in the town just southeast of us, Russ has accepted a new coaching job at our local YMCA and all three boys are making the switch with him. It is a beautiful new facility, and I think this team change will work well for us. The schedule is certainly preferable. They also have child care for Lola (hallelujah!), a masters swim team for Russ, and a free meal program! I think Tuesday and Thursday evenings we’ll take advantage of the free meal for the kids, since I’m picking them up from practice so that Russ can swim with the masters team. [That leaves Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays for our main family dinners. The weekend is less predictable.] The YMCA is also closer to the high school where Levi may be swimming this winter.

Speaking of Levi and swimming… he has been out of commission with a broken foot for the past six weeks, but he just received a green light from the doctor this week. It’s not healed completely, though, so he still has to go easy on it for the next two weeks.

Lola began a tumbling class at the YMCA this week.

Essentials tutoring is going well. Leif and Lola are settling into the CC community day routine (Monday was the second week for them).

My ScholĂ© Sisters group is meeting at my house this Thursday for our final Flannery O’Connor discussion. We are then moving on to Tolkien for this coming year.

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like, but I did manage to finish The Call of the Wild and Johnny Tremain. (I may have read them a very long time ago, but I couldn’t remember details.)

The list of things we I still need to work on is long: getting to sleep a little earlier, reading more, creating a chore schedule, helping my Challenge 1 student (a delicate issue, since he doesn’t want help but needs it), exercising (yeah, I haven’t been as consistent this past week), and eating better (food is my joy and I want to eat all day long). I could add about 20 more things to the list, but we’ll leave it there. I can’t fix everything at once.

I’ll end with Luke’s Canada assessment from memory for Challenge A (roughly 7th grade). Drawing is a struggle for him, so I’m proud of him for sticking with this map.

Luke's Canada Map @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Call of the Wild ~ Poetic Parallelism

Parallelism in The Call of the Wild @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

I’ve written about parallelism in the past. It’s powerful and poetic (and picturesque). After finishing The Call of the Wild by Jack London, I am compelled to compose a complete post with copious quotes from this conspicuous narrative. [Oh, wait. This is a post about parallelism, not alliteration.]

The Call of the Wild is an excellent introduction to classic literature for older kids. It’s a fairly short and simple story (my copy has 134 pages with a fair amount of white space), but the themes are more complex than most children’s books and the vocabulary is rich and varied. For example, London manages to squeeze two of my favorite words into a short sentence:

“And so it went, the inexorable elimination of the superfluous.”

As I was reading, I noticed that London used parallelism prolifically in this novel. Because parallelism is a prominent skill taught in The Lost Tools of Writing as well as the building block of many literary devices, students should be on the lookout for examples in their own reading.

The Call of the Wild is a literature selection for the Classical Conversations Challenge 1 program, so it is a handy example for Challenge students. Let’s explore a few instances of parallelism in this novel.

Among the terriers he stalked imperiously, and Toots and Ysabel he utterly ignored, for he was king—king over all the creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place, humans included. [three present participial adjectives]

Manuel had one besetting sin. He loved to play Chinese lottery. Also, in his gambling, he had one besetting weakness—faith in a system; and this made his damnation certain. [anaphora (the repetition of “Manuel/he had one besetting____”)]

Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. [emphasis on the 3rd noun with the addition of an article and possessive adjective]

The day had been long and arduous, and he slept soundly and comfortably, though he growled and barked and wrestled with bad dreams. [two adjectives, two adverbs, then emphasis on the third with three verbs]

This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the hostile Northland environment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked further decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence. [Three clauses (subject, verb, direct object) with anaphora (the repetition of “theft/it marked” at the beginning of each clause)]

Their irritability arose out of their misery, increased with it, doubled upon it, outdistanced it*. The wonderful patience of the trail which comes to men who toil hard and suffer sore, and remain sweet of speech and kindly+, did not come to these to men and the woman. They had no inkling of such a patience. They were stiff and in pain; their muscles ached, their bones ached, their very hearts ached^; and because of this they became sharp of speech, and hard words were first on their lips in the morning and last at night. [*emphasis on third without preposition, +emphasis on third with extra words “of speech and kindly,” ^emphasis on third with “very”]

All things were thawing, bending, snapping. [three present progressive verbs]

And amid all this bursting, rending, throbbing of awakening life, under the blazing sun and through the soft-sighing breezes, like wayfarers to death, staggered the two men, the woman, and the huskies. [three gerunds, three nouns]

With the dogs falling, Mercedes weeping and riding, Hal swearing innocuously, and Charles’s eyes wistfully watering, they staggered into John Thornton’s camp at the mouth of White River. [one gerund, two gerunds, gerund/adverb, adverb/gerund—love the alliteration of “wistfully watering” (and “with,” “weeping,” and “White”)]

Mercedes screamed, cried, laughed, and manifested the chaotic abandonment of hysteria. [four “-ed” verbs, emphasis on the last as it continues with a vivid direct object]

But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse. [anaphora (“that was…”), the first clause has a predicate adjective, the second two have predicate nominatives]

And when, released, he sprang to his feet, his mouth laughing, his eyes eloquent, his throat vibrant with unuttered sounds, and in that fashion remained without movement, John Thornton would reverently exclaim, ‘God, you can all but speak!’ [anaphora (“his” repeated each time); so poetic with the adjective following the noun]

He sat by John Thornton’s fire, a broad-breasted dog, white-fanged and long-furred; but behind him were the shades of all manner of dogs, half-wolves and wild wolves, urgent and prompting, tasting the savour of the meat he ate, thirsting for the water he drank, scenting the wind with him, listening with him and telling him the sounds made by the wild life in the forest, dictating his moods, directing his actions, lying down to sleep with him when he lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming themselves the stuff of his dreams.

Strangling, suffocating, sometimes one uppermost and sometimes the other, dragging over the jagged bottom, smashing against rocks and snags, they veered in to the bank. [two present participles, two “sometimes____” phrases, two present participles + prepositional phrases]

They went across divides in summer blizzards, shivered under the midnight sun on naked mountains between the timber line and the eternal snows, dropped into summer valleys amid swarming gnats and flies, and in the shadows of glaciers picked strawberries and flowers as ripe and fair as any the Southland could boast. [past tense verb + two prepositional phrases, past tense verb + three prepositional phrases (last with compound object), past tense verb + two prepositional phrases (last with compound object) (all objects of prepositions in first three phrases have adjectives), but emphasis placed on the last phrase by switching order and starting with prepositional phrase and ending with past tense verb (and compound direct object)—so poetic!]

There is a patience of the wild—dogged, tireless, persistent as life itself—that holds motionless for endless hours the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade… [three adjectives, emphasis on the third with a simile; three nouns with prepositional phrases repeating “in its”]

…this patience belongs peculiarly to life when it hunts its living food; and it belonged to Buck as he clung to the flank of the herd, retarding its march, irritating the young bulls, worrying the cows with their half-grown calves, and driving the wounded bull mad with helpless rage. [present participles with direct objects, increasing intensity and adding words to each subsequent phrase]

As twilight fell the old bull stood with lowered head, watching his mates—the cows he had known, the calves he had fathered, the bulls he had mastered—as they shambled on at a rapid pace through the fading light. [three nouns with adjectival clauses, with repeated “he had”—very strong grammatical parallelism]

From then on, night and day, Buck never left his prey, never gave it a moment’s rest, never permitted it to browse the leaves of the trees or the shoots of young birch and willow. [three verb phrases with “never” repeated at the beginning of each (anaphora), each subsequent phrase getting longer]

The birds talked of it, the squirrels chattered about it, the very breeze whispered of it. [three clauses, grammatically parallel; interesting switch from “of” to “about” in the second clause, emphasis on third clause with addition of “very,” epistrophe (repetition of the word “it” at the end of the clauses)]

He plunged about in their very midst, tearing, rending, destroying… [three present participles]
Thenceforward he would be unafraid of them except when they bore in their hands their arrows, spears, and clubs. [three nouns]

One wolf, long and lean and gray, advanced cautiously… [three adjectives]

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Liturgy of Seasons

He Gives Them Seasons @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Collect

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we [demons] have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy [God] (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.

~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Connect

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (NKJV)

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

This morning Lola asked me to read her The Year at Maple Hill Farm by the Provensens (one of my favorite picture books).

Animals don’t know there is such a thing as a year,
But they do know about seasons.
Animals know when the cold will come,
And they grow heavy overcoats.
They know when it is summer,
And they shed them.
When it is hot, they look for shade,
And in winter, they look for shelter.

Create

Eat and Drink @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Symposium and Morning Liturgy

Symposium at Mt. Hope Chronicles

As I’ve been contemplating the concept of Liturgy, I’ve been working to put some ideas into practice. Our Symposium time is the most obvious time to incorporate liturgical practices, as well as family dinner time. Several people have asked about our Symposium, so this is a brief glimpse into our mornings so far this scholĂ© year.

[My alarm goes off at 6am, but I snooze until 6:15 then immediately make the bed and go shower, get dressed, and put on makeup and earrings. I usually have a few minutes to read my Bible before waking the kids.]

6:45  Wake up boys cheerfully (I let Lola wake on her own; Luke sets his own alarm and is often up earlier). Give hugs and snuggles as needed. [I often finish my quiet time while they are slowing getting up out of bed. I give them a second, more imperative wake-up call at 7ish.]

Put on classical music [Week 1 was Aaron Copland, week 2 was George Gershwin, week 3 is Stravinsky]

Morning chores [I need to be better about assigning chores. I switch laundry (all the clean laundry gets put on my bed to fold as I can during the day and put away before bedtime), make tea, check email and FB.]

7:30  Breakfast [I have a list posted on the fridge, but I often make eggs or protein waffles for myself and whomever will eat them.]

Clean up.

8:00 SHARP. Shoes and sweatshirts on and everyone out the door. Levi (with broken foot) on porch. Walk with whomever down the driveway. Talk about how the air feels, the clouds, what we see. Find nature specimen (thistle with purple crown, Queen Anne’s Lace, fallen leaf, remnant of a wasp’s nest, pet snail, pine cone, blackberry sprig…). Talk with Lola about what is nature and what is not (which leads to boy questions such as “are genetically modified foods nature?”). I take pictures of nature. [On rainy days, jump rope or other activity on porch. Grab nature book for nature specimen.]

Nature Journaling @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

8:10 ish: Back inside for nature journal sketching while I read from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield. [I don’t micro-manage their journals. They draw and write whatever they want.]

8:20 ish: Morning prayer from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Pocket Edition

Single Voice/Community prayer (have kids repeat after me)

Song/Hymn [We sing a song in Latin from Lingua Angelica.]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Psalm [We sing a complete song from Sing the Word: Psalm 24 from God Our Provider to tie in with Challenge A catechism (will rotate Psalm songs weekly, next will be Psalm 19 from The Heavens Declare, again to tie in with Challenge A).]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Scripture [Take turns reading from Bible, beginning with the book of John]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Our Father/Pater Noster [We say it in English and then in Latin.]

Ending Single Voice/Community prayer

8:30 ish: Memory work [Working on passage from Declaration of Independence and one from Shakespeare (“All the World’s a Stage”) both to tie in with Challenge 1]

Morning Liturgy @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

8:40 ish: Beauty “Loop”

Day 1: Picture study/narration using Cave Paintings to Picasso (review past artwork, take turns gazing at picture, share what we saw or how it made us feel, or what it reminded us of; read commentary; enter artwork in family timeline notebook)

Day 2: Read from Michael Clay Thompson’s Music of the Hemispheres (poetry)

Day 3: Read about composer from morning music in The Story of the Orchestra (enter in timeline)

Day 4: [If we have 4 days of symposium, double up on a favorite (We have CC community day on Mondays and a shorter symposium on Wednesdays due to piano lessons, so our main symposium days are Tu, Th, and Fri.)]

8:55 ish: MCT Caesar’s English [short portion] Latin and literature-based vocabulary

9:00 Dismiss with the doxology from Jude (1):24-25. Say, “The Lord be with you,” and children respond, “And also with you.”

.

At this point in our morning, Levi and Leif go off to their respective study spaces to complete independent work, and I stay with Luke in the living room (where his study space is located) to work on Latin.

.

So far, I’ve been really consistent with our mornings and then continuing our learning schedule for the rest of the day. I’m trying to add in some more liturgical practices during our day, but that has proved much more difficult once we separate for our daily tasks. We’ve been hit or miss on the following, and I’d like to continue to do them as often as possible:

Midday Prayer from Common Prayer [meet at noon in the living room just before lunch]. The Midday Prayer includes the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi which is on our history, speeches, poetry, literature list for cycle 2! [I may loop between several prayers, including Saint Patrick’s Prayer], the Beatitutes, and The Anima Christi.

I’ve been working on setting a formal family dinner as often as possible—nice dishes and all food in serving dishes on the table. We light candles. We pray the Table Blessing in Latin and English before regular prayer at dinner.

I would love to end dinner with the Evening Prayer from Common Prayer that includes public confession, The Doxology (Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow or occasionally the Gloria Patri), declaration of faith (possibly changing this to The Apostles’ Creed), and the Magnificat (I love hearing my friend Lori sing this one and Levi occasionally has this playing while he works on his school work).

I’ve also tried to practice “Collect, Connect, Create” from Jenny Rallens. During dinner we sometimes share something we’ve learned and how it connects to something else we know or have experienced, then we share how we might use this knowledge.

[For example, Luke said he learned that drawing maps from memory is harder than it looks. We talked about other things that are harder than they look. And then we talked about how things get easier the more you practice. Leif said he learned that thistles are very prickly. Then he said that donkeys must have very tough mouths in order to eat them. Lola said she learned that the purple flower on a thistle is soft and not prickly.]

I saw another idea online—the “Thankfulness Pumpkin.” Each day in October and/or November, we’ll use a Sharpie pen to write on the pumpkin things that each person is thankful for and keep the pumpkin on the table as our dining table centerpiece. I think this will be a great, easy way to practice gratitude this fall.