Thursday, March 29, 2007

Waters of Hope

Thoughtful Thursday

After thoroughly enjoying David Copperfield (Dickens) this past year, I decided to try A Tale of Two Cities using A small portion of the book is sent daily by email. Their program works well if you want to chip away at a book you might not have read otherwise. While any Dickens novel is worth reading, my want-to-read-book-stack is large, and it takes quite some time to make it through larger volumes. This was a great opportunity to add in a classic book without taking time away from my other reading, even if it will take months for me to finish A Tale of Two Cities.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

Waste forces within him, and a desert all around, this man stood still on his way across a silent terrace, and saw for a moment, lying in the wilderness before him, a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance. In the fair city of this vision, there were airy galleries from which the loves and graces looked upon him, gardens in which the fruits of life hung ripening, waters of Hope that sparkled in his sight. A moment, and it was gone. Climbing to a high chamber in a well of houses, he threw himself down in his clothes on a neglected bed, and its pillow was wet with wasted tears.

Sadly, sadly, the sun rose; it rose upon no sadder sight than the man of good abilities and good emotions, incapable of their directed exercise, incapable of his own help and his own happiness, sensible of the blight on him, and resigning himself to let it eat him away.

This passage spoke such truths to me as I look around at today's society. How many people are looking upon 'a mirage of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance' without realizing that life is a series of choices that we make for ourselves, instead playing the blame and excuses game? There are so many things beyond our control, but the way one reacts to those things is a choice. I am sure there are many times that I make the wrong choice. That I may respond with the choice of honourable ambition, self-denial, and perseverance is my great hope.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Our Homeschool. Part I

The Background Story

My first introduction to homeschooling was in early high school, when family friends decided to pull their kids out of the traditional school environment and school them at home. I had attended both private and public schools, but, until then, hadn't given a moment's thought to the idea of homeschooling. It was instantly fascinating and appealing to me. I asked questions. I thought about it quite a bit.

Little did I know then that I would end up homeschooling during my junior year. It was a fabulous experience, and one that I will always remember. I completed all of my 11th grade required classes, as well as most of the 12th grade requirements. I participated in the jazz choir at the local high school (which I had been involved with prior to leaving public school) and worked in a dental office four afternoons a week. That summer, my family traveled across the country (Oregon to Virginia to Maine to South Dakota...) on an amazing adventure. Over six weeks, we saw sights that made my year's studies in U.S. History come alive.

I returned to the public high school for my senior year, only to find that I was wasting an amazing amount of time. I completed a semester of Chemistry and also gained one elective credit which were the two remaining graduation requirements I had not yet met. The most rewarding class I attended was a typing class, and I have been forever grateful for that acquired skill. Seeing school life through new eyes, I determined to homeschool should children be in my future.

A few years later:
After Russ and I had been dating for a whole week (big grin), I informed him that I would like to homeschool any children I might have with whomever I happened to marry. He was a public school teacher at the time, and I thought he should know if he was wasting his time dating me. Amazingly, he said that it sounded like a terrific idea. Three weeks later, we were talking about marriage.

I spent the next few years thinking more about homeschooling, education, and parenting. My cousin was sending her children to a 'classical' school, and what little I heard about classical education sounded exactly like what I was looking for. But I wanted to school my kids at home. A year before Levi was born, I visited my aunt while on vacation in California. She was also schooling her kids at home. She handed me The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home. I devoured what I could of the book, ordered my own copy the day I returned home, and read it cover-to-cover in three days. That was all it took. I was hooked!

The last six years have been spent reading, researching, studying, accumulating books and curriculum, planning, and slowly implementing as Levi has approached the traditional kindergarten age. I have had an absolute blast getting to know him as a person, discovering his strengths, finding out what delights him, dealing with his weaknesses, and being a 'sounding-board' for all that goes through his head and out his mouth. Although he wouldn't have attended public school until this fall, one of my favorite benefits of homeschooling is that we have been able to weave learning into our daily rhythm from the beginning of his life. We move along at his pace: challenging him, moving along when he is ready, falling back when he needs more time. We talk about everything. We learn together. We ask questions and find the answers. We observe life. We read and read and read.

Although we had been doing some formal work over the last year or so, we began education in earnest starting this February after the chaos of our move had died down. Levi is happily reading, writing, and 'doing sums.' Luke is often joining in. (Leif just looks cute.) I'll write about specifics, as well as classical education, and our more detailed reasons for homeschooling in later posts. Stay tuned. Until then, you can read here about the resources we are currently using, and see pictures of our library/school room here.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Birthday Party, Shannon Style

March was always one of the best months growing up. Spring was coming! School was out for a week of vacation. And we had three birthdays. We three sisters all had birthdays in the month of March. Yes, it was a party month. My parents did a great job of letting us each have our moment in the spot light.

As we've grown older, it is a little bit harder to have three separate parties in one month. A couple years ago, we had a round-robin celebration. I hostessed Shannon's birthday, Shannon hostessed Holly's birthday, and Holly hostessed my birthday. (Mom didn't get left out...we let her hostess Easter!)

This year, life was getting in the way of our party month, and Shannon volunteered to entertain us for one big birthday bash. Now, Holly and I know how well Shannon entertains. Neither of us objected to letting her do all the work! None of us were disappointed. What a lovely evening!

Shannon's birthday is the first one up.
(Should I mention this is the big 3-0? Nah. Grin.)

Holly's birthday is next (even though she is the oldest).

My birthday closes out the month.
Shannon and her husband, Ben.

The spread: Cheesy bread, Salad with all the trimmings, Hot Artichoke Dip and Crackers, Fruit Salad Parfaits (with Devonshire cream and dried cranberries), and Italian Cream Sodas!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Meal Plan Monday

Monday: At Aunt Shan's house for Birthday Party

Tuesday: French Dip Subs*, Green Salad

Wednesday: Mexican Beef and Tortillas

Thursday: Veggie Beef Soup, Bread (bread machine)

Friday: Chef Salad

Saturday: Eat Out for Birthday! Grin.

Sunday: Land of Nod Cinnamon Buns (breakfast), Halibut & Fries and Veggies & Dip (lunch/dinner)

*One of my favorite meal planning techniques is to have a meat that can be made into multiple meals. The best example of this is to use beef roast. I put a chuck roast in the slow cooker and use it hot for French Dip subs and use the broth for Au Jus. The second day I use leftover meat to make a Mexican dish (enchiladas, for example), and the third day all remaining meat and broth makes its way into a delicious soup with canned tomatoes and other veggies. Occasionally I slice it cold and have roast beef sandwiches. My mom lovingly calls this 'the roast that does everything.' (We also have 'the ham that does everything' and 'the chicken that does everything.')

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Lingering Appreciation

To be well informed, one must read quickly a great number of merely instructive books. To be cultivated, one must read slowly and with a lingering appreciation the comparitively few books that have been written by men who lived, thought, and felt with style. Aldous Huxley, writer, 1894-1963

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Saturday (Not So) Small Talk

I snagged this book meme from Jen's Page a while back. I thought it might come in handy for a Saturday chat.

Hardback or trade paperback or mass market paperback?
I prefer hardback for children’s picture books, but I find paperback novels much easier to hold onto while nursing a baby or reading in bed. Probably trade paperback.

Amazon or brick and mortar?
My Amazon history is shocking (or so says my husband who happened to glance at it the other day). I love reading reviews or recommendations. I love the convenience. I love the price and speed with which my books arrive (thanks to Amazon Prime). However, if I didn’t have three little children tagging along, and if Barnes & Nobel was closer than 20 miles away, I would probably spend an insane amount of time browsing in a brick and mortar establishment.

Barnes & Noble or Borders?
Barnes & Noble

Bookmark or dogear?
Bookmark. I dogear pages with memorable passages.

Alphabetize by author or alphabetize by title or random?
I sort by subject.

Keep, throw away, or sell?
After I read a book, I feel like it is a part of me. So, keep, definitely. (Unless I truly did not care for it.)

Keep dustjacket or toss it?

Read with dustjacket or remove it?

Short story or novel?
Novel. I like books with a little meat. They need time to develop plot and character.

Short story collection (short stories by the same author) or anthology (short stories by a different author)?

Harry Potter or Lemony Snicket?
I haven’t read either. Gasp.

Stop reading when tired or at chapter breaks?
I much prefer stopping at chapter breaks. But, reality? I usually stop when the baby stops nursing, a crash is heard in the bedroom, the oven timer goes off, or when I smell smoke.

“It was a dark and stormy night” or “Once upon a time”?

Buy or Borrow?
Buy. Buy. Buy! It is a part of me, remember?

New or used?
Usually new. I loved visiting our local used book store, but it closed last year.

Buying choice: book reviews, recommendation or browse?
All of the above. (Any excuse to buy a book.)

Tidy ending or cliffhanger?
Tidy ending. I need emotional closure. Enough stress in the real world.

Morning reading, afternoon reading or nighttime reading?
I have to take it whenever I can get it! I’d say nighttime is my favorite, though.

Standalone or series?
Probably standalone. I like to read a variety of books.

Favorite series?
Narnia. No other series has captured my ongoing interest. I am having so much fun sharing them with my oldest son.

Favorite books read last year?
Robinson Crusoe, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Count of Monte Cristo (4th time through), and David Copperfield.

Favorite books of all time?
The Count of Monte Cristo (Dumas), Mere Christianity (Lewis), Space Trilogy (Lewis), Maggie Rose--Her Birthday Christmas (Sawyer), The Little French Girl (Sedgwick)...There are so many. I'm not sure how to list them!

Want to join me? Feel free to leave comments! (Or link to your blog in the comments section.)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Fine Art Friday

Levi and I have been reading about Mary Cassatt this week, and I am inspired to join at least a couple other bloggers and participate in Fine Art Friday.
Mary Cassatt, 1844-1926
Portrait of Alexander J. Cassatt and His Son, Robert Kelso Cassatt; 1884-85;
Philadelphia Museum of Art
Mary Cassatt rarely painted men. Apparently, unless she wanted to incite scandal, Mary could not use men unrelated to her as models. Maybe that is why this painting catches my eye each time I come across it. Or maybe I am drawn to it because I have three little boys that love being near their father, even when he is absorbed in his newspaper or on his computer. I like the way Alexander is sitting on the side of the chair with his arm around his dad. Both he and his father seem comfortable and content.
This painting reminds me of the way Scout would sit reading the newspaper with her father, Atticus, in To Kill a Mockingbird. Their close, respectful relationship is an inspiration to me, and worthy of emulating. Ah, now that is literature. Maybe I'll have to pick that one up again this week.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Thoughtful Thursday

Never bear more than one trouble at a time. Some people bear three kinds--all they have had, all they have now, and all they expect to have. --Edward Everett Hale, clergyman and author, 1822-1909

Today I will bear only today's troubles: year-end accounting (I've been procrastinating and it's down to the wire), and three sick boys. I think that's enough for one day.

Today I will count my blessings. We are living out in the country in our 'forever house,' it is spring and the sun is shining, we just sold our old house, my three boys are the delight of my life, I adore my hubby, and there is left-over mud pie in the freezer. It doesn't get any better than that.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Mud Pies

Now, as much as I enjoyed making mud pies as a kid, these are much tastier. I can't think of a better way to usher in the spring! Have I mentioned that I'll use any excuse to bake? The boys don't seem to mind, so the only things complaining are my hips. Want to join us? Check out this recipe over at!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Happy Spring!

The Echoing Green
by William Blake

The Sun does arise,
And make happy the skies;
The merry bells ring
To welcome the Spring;
The skylark and thrush,
The birds of the bush,
Sing lounder around
To the bells' chearful sound,
While our sports shall be seen
On the Echoing Green.

Old John, with white hair,
Does laugh away care,
Sitting under the oak,
Among the old folk.
They laugh at our play,
And soon they all say:
"Such, such were the joys
When we all, girls & boys,
In our youth time were seen
On the Echoing Green.''

Till the little ones, weary,
No more can be merry;
The sun does descend,
And our sports have on end.
Round the laps of their mothers
Many sisters and brothers,
Like birds in their nest,
Are ready for rest,
And sports no more seen
On the darkening Green.
Here is an interesting article in The New York Times about the vernal equinox. Apparently, some calendars mark the first day of spring as March 21, and some as March 20.
But as I soon discovered in my attempt to resolve the calendar crisis, the vernal equinox in 2007 has the added snag of arriving at the querulous hour of just seven minutes past midnight, universal time, on March 21. Coordinated Universal Time is what used to be called Greenwich Mean Time, but the new name doesn’t make it any more universal than it ever was, and it remains a time zone centered in Britain. For those of us in the United States, the vernal equinox arrives while it is still the evening of March 20.
Fascinating stuff. So, whether you are celebrating today or tomorrow (or not at all, I suppose), Happy Spring!

Monday, March 19, 2007


Occasionally time stands still, and I think to myself...This is life. Breathe in the moment. Luke softly 'playing' Grandma-Great's piano while the sun shines in on him. His little round fingers. The batman bandaid wrapped around one of them. This is the moment I wish he could stay little forever.

We do not remember days; we remember moments. --Cesare Pavese

Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Catcher in the Rye

My mother passed on her love of reading to her three girls. We grew up reading wonderful, quality literature. However, lately I've discovered that my education is greatly lacking when it comes to modern novels. We read the Bronte sisters, Dickens, Dumas, Hugo, and other great 19th century writers. Orwell, Salinger, and Fitzgerald didn't find their way into the stacks of books we devoured. Now, I completely understand why my mom didn't pour over these books in the same way, and why she didn't stock our bookshelves with the same. That said, I still feel as if I have some ground to cover.

In the past couple years I have read Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury), To Kill a Mockingbird (Lee), 1984 (Orwell), and a couple others. I hope to work my way through a few more from Time Magazine's list of All Time 100 Novels (100 best English-language novels from 1923 to the present) in the coming year. They may not be my favorite snuggle-up-in-bed reads, but certainly I might learn a thing or two, no?

So, recently I have been reading The Catcher in the Rye. I have to admit that it was chosen somewhat randomly. It happened to be sitting on my bookshelf. I also have to admit that I was fairly sure I wouldn't enjoy it. And I didn't, really. Not the first chapter or two. But after that, something happened. I felt as if I was starting to understand Holden Caulfield. And even like him some. The story moves from depressing, to thoughtful, to insightful, (back to depressing), to hopeful, to tender, and I still don't know how it will end. But I'm glad I gave it a try.

The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)
chapter 16

Even though it was Sunday and Phoebe wouldn't be there with her class or anything, and even thought it was so damp and lousy out, I walked all the way through the park over to the Museum of Natural History...I knew that whole museum routine like a book. Phoebe went to the same school I went to when I was a kid, and we used to go there all the time...Sometimes we looked at the animals and sometimes we looked at the stuff the Indians had made in ancient times. Pottery and straw baskets and all stuff like that. I get very happy when I think about it. Even now...

The best thing, though, in that museum was that everything always stayed right where it was. Nobody'd move. You could go there a hundred times, and that Eskimo would still be just finished catching those two fish, the birds would still be on their way south...Nobody'd be different. The only thing that would be different would be you. Not that you'd be so much older or anything. It wouldn't be that, exactly. You'd just be different, that's all. You'd have an overcoat on this time. Or the kids that was your partner in line the last time had got scarlet fever and you'd have a new partner. Or you'd have a substitute taking the class, instead of Miss Aigletinger. Or you'd heard your mother and father having a terrific fight in the bathroom. Or you'd just passed by one of those puddles in the street with gasoline rainbows in them. I mean you'd be different in some way--I can't explain what I mean. And even if I could, I'm not sure I'd feel like it.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Irish Soda Bread

When I was looking for recipe ideas for St. Patrick's Day, this one for Irish Soda Bread (at Family Fun) jumped out at me. Levi and I love baking together, and the whole family enjoyed eating the hot loaf right out of the oven. Any excuse to bake is a good one!

Friday, March 16, 2007

'The Play's the Thing'

Ilex, Drake, Levi, and Puck

Ilex, Drake, Othello, and Levi

Shakespeare's Greatest Hits VII and The King's Players presented scenes from Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream. We were so thrilled to be attending a high-quality performance by homeschooled students, ages 11-18, who obviously took their work and 'play' very seriously.

Othello was strong, heartfelt, and tragic. A Midsummer Night's Dream was hilarious and simply delightful! My sister and I enjoyed every minute, as did her kiddos, Ilex and Drake. Levi did so well considering that he sat for two hours of Shakespeare in a very hot building. He said that Puck was his favorite. We had read Edith Nesbit's children's versions of both stories as well as listened to Jim Weiss's version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, so he was familiar with the characters and plot (although, I must admit that we were both a bit muddled when reading Othello). The actors brought the plays alive for all of us. Somehow, I had no idea how comical A Midsummer Night's Dream could be. Maybe that is why it is called a comedy, no?

I'd give this outing and performance five stars!

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,
Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,
Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Act ii. Scene.1

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Isn't That the Truth

Speech is conveniently located midway between thought and action, where it often subsitutes for both. --John Andrew Holmes

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Shakespeare Project

Inspired by MFS at Mental Multivitamin, I recently determined to add some Shakespeare to my literary diet. Until now, my Shakespeare exposure has been limited to a pitiful introduction in high school literature class. I appreciate the advice given by MFS, specifically recommending these steps when approaching Shakespeare.

After some research into live productions available to me, I found this upcoming performance of Much Ado About Nothing at our local university. Coincidentally, my sister had just purchased the movie version for me as a Christmas gift. I decided it was fate. I checked the volume of abridged stories on my book shelf, Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children edited by Edith Nesbit, and, voila, Much Ado About Nothing was one of the included stories. That was it. I'll be starting with the children's version, moving on to the movie, attending the live performance this summer, then tackling the story in original written form this fall.

Just a week or two after my resolution, I got wind of a homeschool drama production featuring selected scenes from Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream. Perfect. Levi won't escape Shakespeare this year. I pulled out our Shakespeare for Children recording by Jim Weiss which includes A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Taming of the Shrew. Levi truly enjoys listening to stories on CD, and Jim Weiss recordings are a delight. His Shakespeare CD is no exception. This week we will visit both Othello and A Midsummer Night's Dream in our Edith Nesbit volume prior to attending the live performance. The Young Person's Guide to Shakespeare will find its way off our book shelf and onto our stack of current 'read-alouds.' We may revisit A Midsummer Night's Dream in movie form later this spring.

If all goes well, we'll be adding "Bard in the Quad" to our yearly summer traditions. Maybe I will have made it through the complete works of Shakespeare by the time I'm 80.

Monday, March 12, 2007

Night At The Museum

Levi, Bambi (his Grandma), and I went to see Night At The Museum at our local, downtown, renovated theater, The Pix. We had a fabulous time! The Pix is gorgeous and the movie was an adventurous, highly entertaining show. There were so many laugh-out-loud moments. We'll have to revisit the film after getting through our world history rounds in the next few years when Levi will recognize even more of the historical characters and images. Night At The Museum will sit on our movie shelf next to National Treasure which, by the way, has a sequel due out in December of this year. Another one of our favorite adventure flicks is The Librarian; Quest for the Spear. While the special effects aren't up to the caliber of National Treasure, and there is one scene we fast forward for the littles, it is also an 'Indian Jones'-style movie with many historical and legendary references that our whole family enjoys.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Larger, Stronger, Quieter Life

That is why the real problem of the Christian life comes where people do not usually look for it. It comes the very moment you wake up each morning. All your wishes and hopes for the day rush at you like wild animals. And the first job each morning consists simply in shoving them all back; in listening to that other voice, taking that other point of view, letting that other larger, stronger, quieter life come flowing in. And so on, all day. Standing back from all your natural fussings and frettings; coming in out of the wind. --C. S. Lewis in Mere Christianity

Friday, March 9, 2007

'Grandma-Great's' Piano

My Grandmother, 'Grandma-Great' as she came to be called by her 37 great-grandchildren, passed away in January at the age of 99. She left behind her a tremendous legacy and a close-knit family of 86. As a teacher, musician, author (her biography of her father's life was published when she was 92), missionary to Argentina and Uruguay, church pioneer, mother of 7, administrator, and minister, she touched more lives than we could imagine. My father loved to say that his mother had forgotten more knowledge than he would ever accumulate in his lifetime. She was intelligent, wise, and kind. Every day at 3 o'clock she would have tea, and anyone was welcome to stop by and join her. Many students from the nearby boarding school (which she helped her father found) would take her up on the offer.

I am so blessed to have received her piano. It will be in my home as a reminder to live an intelligent, wise, and kind life, and to enjoy beautiful music along the way.

Thursday, March 8, 2007


The 'L' boys love being a part of any kitchen adventure. They had been watching the plantains ripen on the window sill for quite some time. Levi had watched the Tostones demonstration on his Spanish DVD. Finally it was time to fry them up and taste something new. Unfortunately, the powdered sugar was their favorite part. I was left eating a plate of fried, sugared plantains. Grin.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Our Library/School Room

This is the view into our school room.

Levi's desk is on the left.

Some of our books are still in storage, still waiting...

Drawers for all our supplies.

My desk.

Levi said this was the elevator to Paris; unfortunately it is just a closet for games and stuff. Grin.

We keep the picture books, chapter books, easy readers, and other books not history related in the boys' bedroom.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

No 'Mere' Book

If I were writing down meaningful or interesting passages while I read (which, of course, I should be doing), I would spend more time writing than reading. Mere Christianity is one of the only books in which I find something to ponder, some great truth, or a witty statement that makes me laugh out loud in almost every paragraph. How C. S. Lewis can take something so big and break it down in an accessible, profound, simple, deep, bare, and humorous way is just why I love reading his works.

Mere Christianity
Book I
Right and Wrong as a Clue to the Meaning of the Universe
5. We Have Cause to be Uneasy

We all want progress. But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be. And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer. If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.

Book II
What Christians Believe
2. The Invasion

I know someone will ask me, “Do you really mean, at this time of day, to re-introduce our old friend the devil—hoofs and horns and all?” Well, what the time of day has to do with it I do not know. And I am not particular about the hoofs and horns. But in other respects my answer is “Yes, I do.” I do not claim to know anything about his personal appearance. If anybody really wants to know him better I would say to that person, “Don’t worry. If you really want to, you will. Whether you’ll like it when you do is another question.”

3. The Shocking Alternative

When we have understood about free will, we shall see how silly it is to ask, as somebody once asked me: “Why did God make a creature of such rotten stuff that it went wrong?” The better stuff a creature is made of—the cleverer and stronger and freer it is—then the better it will be if it goes right, but also the worse it will be if it goes wrong. A cow cannot be very good or very bad; a dog can be both better and worse; a child better and worse still; an ordinary man, still more so; a man of genius, still more so; a superhuman spirit best—or worst—of all.

Book III
Christian Behaviour
5. Sexual Morality

After each failure, ask forgiveness, pick yourself up, and try again. Very often what God first helps us towards is not the virtue itself but just this power of always trying again. For however important [any virtue] may be, this process trains us in habits of the soul which are more important still. It cures our illusions about ourselves and teaches us to depend on God.

Finally, though I have had to speak at some length about sex, I want to make it as clear as I possibly can that the centre of Christian morality is not here. If anyone thinks that Christians regard unchastity as the supreme vice, he is quite wrong. The sins of the flesh are bad, but they are the least bad of all sins. All the worst pleasures are purely spiritual: the pleasure of putting other people in the wrong, of bossing and patronizing and spoiling sport, and back-biting; the pleasures of power, of hatred. For there are two things inside me, competing with the human self which I must try to become. They are the Animal self, and the Diabolical self. The Diabolical self is the worse of the two. That is why a cold, self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Deliciously Warm Weather

What's for dinner? After the 70 degree day today, I was in the mood for something fresh and savory. A BLTA on croissant was just the ticket. Mmmm. For the first time in our new house, the doors and windows were open, the breeze blowing through. Crickets and birds were singing. Our willow tree started showing green. Little boys were romping through the tall grass without coats and hats. (Without shoes either, but I wasn't as thrilled about that one.) Levi brought me a daffodil. I had him grab a couple more and set them in a vase on my kitchen window sill. It feels like spring!

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Bewitched, Entranced, Fascinated

The Wind in the Willows
By Kenneth Grahame

Chapter 1--The River Bank

He thought his happiness was complete when, as he meandered aimlessly along, suddenly he stood by the edge of a full-fed river. Never in his life had he seen a river before—this sleek, sinuous, full-bodied animal, chasing and chuckling, gripping things with a gurgle and leaving them with a laugh, to fling itself on fresh playmates that shook themselves free, and were caught and held again. All was a-shake and a-shiver—glints and gleams and sparkles, rustle and swirl, chatter and bubble. The Mole was bewitched, entranced, fascinated. By the side of the river he trotted as one trots, when very small, by the side of a man, who holds one spellbound by exciting stories; and when tired at last, he sat on the bank, while the river still chattered on to him, a babbling procession of the best stories in the world, sent from the heart of the earth to be told at last to the insatiable sea.

Chapter 7--The Piper at the Gates of Dawn

The line of the horizon was clear and hard against the sky, and in one particular quarter it showed black against a silvery climbing phosphorescence that grew and grew. At last, over the rim of the waiting earth the moon lifted with slow majesty till it swung clear of the horizon and rode off, free of moorings; and once more they begin to see surfaces—meadows widespread, and quiet gardens, and the river itself from bank to bank, all softly disclosed, all washed clean of mystery and terror, all radiant again as by day, but with a difference that was tremendous. Their old haunts greeted them again in other raiment, as if they had slipped away and put on this pure new apparel and come quietly back, smiling as they shyly waited to see if they would be recognized again under it.

Fastening their boat to a willow, the friends landed in this silent, silver kingdom, and patiently explored the hedges, the hollow trees, the runnels and their little culverts, the ditches and dry water-ways. Embarking again and crossing over, they worked their way up the stream in this manner, while the moon, serene and detached in a cloudless sky, did what she could, though so far off, to help them in their quest; till her hour came and she sank earthwards reluctantly, and left them, and mystery once more held field and river.

Levi was already familiar with the story line of The Wind in the Willows, so I thought it would be a fun book for us to share together. Little did I know what I was getting us into, not having read the unabridged version myself. Levi has a spectacular vocabulary for a just-turned-5-year-old, and we are 'bewitched, entranced, and fascinated' by the words and hypnotizing language of the story. Surely much of the wording goes over his head, but I know that he is hearing the beautiful sounds of quality writing. Stirring our imaginations, The Wind in the Willows is one more book to provide us with shared mental 'landscape.' I look forward to reading it again at a later stage is his education.

Friday, March 2, 2007

Open House

I had hoped to post pictures of our new home after all the settling in had been accomplished, decorating touches finished, and a deep cleaning "head to toe," but we would still be waiting years from now! So, swallowing my perfectionism, I invite you to our picture "Open House." I will try to post more current pictures over time.


View from the front door (kitchen through the doorway in the back):

Looking back at the front door (fireplace barely showing on right):

This is a view into our school room/library. I'll be posting updated pictures soon!

Our laundry "nook" is in on the right.

This is the kitchen view from the breakfast nook:

Our sunny breakfast nook/dining area:
The *one* bathroom:

A *tiny* master retreat:

The quiet (ha) boys' sleeping room:

The (not-so-quiet) upstairs playroom (AKA: the secret room):

Thanks for visiting! Come again soon.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Educational Resources

I have compiled a list of resources that we are using currently for our homeschooling adventure (early kindergarten and 2.5 yo). Those marked with ** are some of our favorites. The resources in [] are some that I hope to begin using within the next month or two.

Reading (Phonics):
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading
Level A Sight Words flash cards
Nora Gaydos readers levels 1,2, and 3**
Boggle Jr.
Leap Frog DVDs beginning with Letter Factory **

RightStart Math** (includes games and manipulatives)

Your Big Backyard National Wildlife Federation magazine for kids
Magic School Bus (The Learning Channel)
Zoboomafoo (PBS Kids)
How It's Made (Discovery Channel)**
[More Mudpies to Magnets]

Handwriting Without Tears**

The American Story; 100 True Tales From American History
Various Picture Books
We the Kids (memorizing the Preamble to the Constitution)
Wee Sing America (memorizing classic patriotic songs)

Current Events:
God's World News magazine for kids

Lots of great picture books and chapter books (Honey For a Child's Heart has terrific book lists or try this link: 1000 Good Books)
Books and stories on CD:
Jim Weiss story CDs **
Narnia series CDs (Focus on the Family Radio Theater) **
Classic Children's Stories on CD **

Sing the Word from A to Z (CD) **
Wee Sing Bible Songs (CD)
The Children's Illustrated Bible
[Five Minute Devotions for Children]

La Clase Divertida (DVD, CD, workbook, activities)
Various picture books, CDs, and videos/DVDs
Private Tutoring

San Francisco Symphony Kids
Story of the Orchestra
Little Einsteins
(Disney channel and DVD)**
Classical Kids series (CDs)**
Other CDs:
Peter and the Wolf
Baby Loves Jazz series
Children's Favorite Songs: Classic Tunes
Dog Train A Wild Ride on the Rock and Roll Side
[The Classical Child at the Opera]

Various picture books
Little Einsteins (Disney channel and DVD)
Mini Masters board books

Great States Jr. (game)
Little Einsteins (Disney channel and DVD)
Maps, picture books

The Harp and the Laurel Wreath

The Well-Trained Mind *******

Learning Page
Enchanted Learning
Can Teach

Magnetic Calendar
HP Officejet All-In-One Printer **

Now that I've typed it out, it looks like far more than I thought. Grin. We are using these resources often, but only a few do we use daily. A few we use less than weekly. I didn't prioritize subjects or resources (partly because I was doing well just to get them listed at all). I would be glad to answer any specific questions.