Thursday, May 31, 2007

May and June

May and June.
Soft syllables, gentle names for the two best months
in the garden year:
cool, misty mornings gently burned away with a warming spring sun,
followed by breezy afternoons and chilly nights.
The discussion of philosophy is over; its time for work to begin.

--Peter Loewer

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Hearst Castle

Main House

Neptune Pool

Veranda Looking West
Photo Credits

Hearst Castle in San Simeon, California is quite possibly one of my favorite places on earth. It is an unexpected treasure on the west coast of the United States. The view of the California coast from the castle is spectacular!

William Randolph Hearst designed this estate, which houses an extensive collection of antiquities. His architect, Julia Morgan, is a fascinating woman to study herself. A woman architect in a man's profession, she had amazing talent to be able to work with the eccentric Hearst. Together they started building the castle in the early 1900s and worked on the project for many years.

If you are ever near San Luis Obisbo, California, I highly recommend visiting this National Historic Landmark.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Spring Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

I am glad that I participated in the Spring Reading Challenge at Seasonal Soundings. It is amazing how intentional reading makes an impact on my ability to get to the books on my lists!Following is my wrap-up with links to previous notes.

For ChocLit Guild:
Mere Christianity (C. S. Lewis)--FINISHED
North and South (Elizabeth Gaskell)--HALF WAY THROUGH AND ON HOLD
I Dared to Call Him Father (Bilquis Sheikh)--FINISHED

Just For Me:
To Say Nothing of the Dog (Connie Willis)--FINISHED
The Catcher in the Rye (J. D. Salinger)--FINISHED
Much Ado About Nothing (Shakespeare--multiple children's versions)--(Read A Midsummer Night's Dream, Othello, and Twelfth Night instead as we were seeing those plays live. Will put Much Ado on my summer list.)
Hotel Pastis (Peter Mayle)--SHELVED
A Tale of Two Cities (Charles Dickens)--READING ON SCHEDULE (More notes here.)

A Year with C. S. Lewis--STILL ENJOYING (More notes here and here.)
Lord Bless My Child (William & Nancie Carmichael)--STILL ENJOYING

With Levi:
The Wind in the Willows (Kenneth Grahame)--FINISHED
The Cricket in Times Square (George Selden)--FINISHED
The Twenty-One Balloons (William Pene du Bois)--FINISHED
Pippi Longstocking (Astrid Lindgren)--FINISHED
The Saturdays (Elizabeth Enright)--FINISHED

Also Read:
Ben and Me (Robert Lawson)
Honey for a Woman's Heart (Gladys Hunt)
Marva Collins' Way (Marva Collins and Civia Tamarkin)
The Art of Civilized Conversation (Margaret Shepherd)

I'll be posting my list for the Summer Reading Challenge in the next day or two.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

In Memory

They are dead;
but they live in each Patriot's breast,
And their names are engraven
on honor's bright crest.
~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Frivolous Quiz

:: L I Z Z Y ::
You are Elizabeth Bennet of Pride & Prejudice! You are intelligent, witty, and tremendously attractive. You have a good head on your shoulders, and oftentimes find yourself the lone beacon of reason in a sea of silliness. You take great pleasure in many things. You are proficient in nearly all of them, though you will never own it. Lest you seem too perfect, you have a tendency toward prejudgement that serves you very ill indeed.

I'm not sure this quiz was quite as accurate as the mothering style quiz, for me, anyway.

Which Jane Austen heroine are you? Take the quiz to find out. Saturday is the perfect day to be frivolous and silly, isn't it? (Humor me, okay? It's been a long week.)

Friday, May 25, 2007

Rough Seas

Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849)
The Great Wave off Kanagawa c. 1823-29
Woodblock print

Cave Paintings to Picasso: The Inside Scoop on 50 Art Masterpieces showcases 50 major works of art from 22,000 B.C. to A.D. 1964 while providing a nice summary of art history for children. It is also a great place to start for the adult interested in beginning art study. The above print by Hokusai is one of the included masterpieces:

Hokusai's Great Wave is part of a Japanese printmaking tradition known as UKIYO-E, 'pictures of the floating world.' It celebrates the momentary beauty of the world and the joy of life.

This print caught my eye after watching a Little Einsteins episode with the boys which featured Hiroshige Utagawa's print, Rough Seas at Awa, The Navaro Rapids (1853-56).

Little Einsteins features a varied selection of masterpieces, one in each episode along with a famous composer and a short portion of one of his musical pieces. Music theory and world geography make this show one of our favorites for the younger crowd.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Geography Lessons

'Look, Mom! It's Idaho.' (Geography lessons must be sticking.)
Isn't it amazing what can be seen in a half-eaten piece of cheese?

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


Today on the 'here and there' menu, I offer a great blog entry, Home Education: Delicious and Nutritious found over at Here in the Bonny Glen. Melissa Wiley does an excellent job countering the homeschool skeptic's criticism and concerns such as 'Are you qualified?' and 'What about socialization?' Upbeat, fresh, and humorous, her post is a delight.

But maybe the Socialization Worrier meant something else. Maybe she meant, "See, I know this family who homeschools, and their kids are just plain weird/socially awkward/obnoxious/wild/[insert unpleasant adjective of choice]." To which I must respond: And you're saying that there are no weird/socially awkward/obnoxious/wild/etc. kids in schools? Because, um, I beg to differ. They were there when I was in school, and I know they're there now because I hear about them (or read about them in the news) all the time. Some of the weird ones—the nerdy guys in the computer club—grew up to become multimillionaires (and usually really nice people—but then, they were nice all along, just weird). Some of the obnoxious ones now draw huge crowds at the comedy club. Others are in jail...

...That's what I'd like to ask the "I know a homeschooling family and I don't like them" skeptics. Because I don't believe that if they really thought the matter through, they would believe that the problem with those kids would have been avoided by "socialization" in a school setting. The obnoxious kids would almost certainly be just as obnoxious (what our skeptic is really objecting to is probably a parenting issue, not an educational one), and the weird kids would be just as weird and probably a whole lot more miserable. After all, "weird" in this context just means "different," doesn't it? Kids who just don't fit in? How many times have we seen the school misfit blossom and thrive as soon as he finishes school or college and is finally freed of the pressure to squeeze into a mold that doesn't fit him? Heck, how many of us experienced this ourselves?

Another great article to check out is One Good Year: A Look at Short-Term Homeschooling by Laura Brodie, in which Laura decides to homeschool her daughter for just one year. The author is honest about the struggles and joys, and also includes homeschooling research that she found while making her decision. This is a point of view not often found, since many homeschoolers come from a long-term position and don't have to stradle the public school/homeschool fence.

In the end, I believe in supporting public education in America, especially in districts like ours, where the schools are small and safe. But in return, the public schools should be supporting America's families, not filling our children's family time with more schoolwork. While I am willing to leave my daughter's education in the hands of the public schools until three o'clock each day, after-school hours should be devoted to exercise, art, music, and unstructured play--all of the highly educational activities that many schools, in their test-bound shackles, have cut to the bare bones. When excessive homework gets in the way of family time--time for long conversations, as well as visits to museums and parks and concerts--that's when the schools have crossed my line in the sand. And that's when Julia and I will be back in our local coffee shop, spending our Wednesday mornings speaking bits of French over a game of chess.

One of my favorite reads on the subject of homeschooling (and public school as well) is written by a public high school English teacher and author of Snow Falling on Cedars. David Guterson's Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense weaves between anecdotal, factual, argumentative, and poetic style. A balanced look at homeschooling and public school, this book is a must read!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu is an ancient city built by the Incas in the 1400s. Located in Peru on the top of an Andean mountain, it is completely self-contained and invisible from below. It appears to have been used for ceremonies and astronomical observatory.
Two thousand feet above the rumbling Urubamba river, the cloud shrouded ruins have palaces, baths, temples, storage rooms and some 150 houses, all in a remarkable state of preservation. These structures, carved from the gray granite of the mountain top are wonders of both architectural and aesthetic genius. Many of the building blocks weigh 50 tons or more yet are so precisely sculpted and fitted together with such exactitude that the mortarless joints will not permit the insertion of even a thin knife blade.
This site has some great photographs and information, as does this page.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Meal Plan Monday

Sunday: Taco Salad and Watermelon

Monday: Broccoli, Beef, and Tomato over Whole Wheat Spiral Noodles

Tuesday: Baked Dijon Salmon, Cheesy Cauliflower, Green beans

Wednesday: Grilled Chicken, Whole Grain Rice, Lettuce/Cranberries/Walnuts/Feta Cheese/Vinaigrette Dressing

Thursday: Spaghetti, Corn, Green Salad, Bread

Friday: Hamburgers (with bacon and avocado), Fresh Veggies and Dip, Chips

Saturday: Pork Fried Rice and Pineapple

Sunday: Chef Salad

Russ was gone all last week on a business trip, so I'm a bit tired of chicken nuggets. Grin. We're all looking forward to a week of healthy, good food!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Virginia, 1863

At what point shall we expect the approach of danger? By what means shall we fortify against it? Shall we expect some transatlantic military giant, to step the Ocean, and crush us at a blow? Never! All the armies of Europe, Asia, and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth...could not by force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in a trial of a thousand years... If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide. --Abraham Lincoln

Russ and Levi headed over to the Civil War Battle and Encampment Re-enactment today. The weather was slightly drizzly today, but Russ thought it made the re-enactment more realistic. Levi and I will have to do some reading this week to enhance the visuals he acquired this afternoon.

The Northwest Civil War Council has information about their events and membership at their website.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Evening at Bambi and Poppy's

How incredibly blessed we are to live just two miles from my childhood home, my parents, and my children's grandparents. My boys are now climbing the very trees I grew up climbing. It creates an amazing bond. Somehow I feel as if I am reliving my childhood and seeing it through new eyes.