Saturday, July 31, 2010

Saturday Seven ~ Week 30


1:: The boys arrived home from their camping trip on Sunday. Happy and filthy. I hope to get some photos up this next week. Russ did an amazing job keeping it all together and making fabulous memories with the boys. The time alone did wonders for me...

2:: Luke and Levi spent the mornings this week at VBS (for the first time). They LOVED it, and I loved having 5 quiet mornings with Leif.

3:: Book club on Thursday was amazing. Twilight is out of our normal repertoire, so it provided some interesting fodder. My sister, Holly, has been hosting a French exchange student the last couple weeks. She happens to be quite the Twilight fan, so Holly and Shannon drove her up to see several locations where the movies were filmed (including Bella's house) and took photos which they shared at our meeting. Marie also made us the most delicious crepes to add to our traditional chocolate dessert. Debi, the cake was wonderful!! And twilight in the garden was lovely. Have I mentioned how much I adore my book club ladies?!

4:: To add to the week's Twilight theme, we played a rousing family game of softball in a thunderstorm Friday evening. Okay, so there was only one clap of thunder, and our game in no way resembled the one in Twilight other than the fact that we don't have enough players to make teams. The sunset was stunning, though (see above). When twilight descended and the ball was hard to spot coming at us, the sisters and Marie (the French exchange student) cozied up in Shannon's playhouse for movie night. Yes, that one. The commentary included excited 'we saw that!'s and 'we've been there!'s.

5:: My brain is on vacation, and I have no intellectually stimulating links for you today.

6:: I've spent too much time this week looking at every single photo at Jinky Art. (Now you know why my brain is on vacation...) I don't think I've ever seen more inspiring children's photography. It made me want to have ten kids. And that is quite the accomplishment.

7:: I need to get much done this next week. Here is hoping for a perfect storm of energy, well-behaved boys, and self-discipline...

The three great essentials to achieve anything worth while are,
first, hard work; second, stick-to-itiveness; third, common sense.

~Thomas Edison

Friday, July 30, 2010

Read 'em and Eat

Book Club

Book club in the garden. Poet's Garden, that is.
Life is good. Really good.
(Pictures of Shannon's playhouse coming up.)

ChocLit Guild

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Saturday Seven ~ Week 29

PB Cookies

1:: Made PB cookies for my hubby for (sadly) the first time. I don't care for them, but he loves them. A friend made these, and when I found out how simple they were I had to give them a try! Russ gives them two thumbs up. (Oh, and they are gluten-free!)

1 cup peanut butter, 1 cup sugar (or a little less), 1 egg, and 1/2 tsp vanilla. Mix together. Roll dough into balls. Roll in sugar. Press down with fork. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. (Makes about 18 cookies.) Easier than pie.

2:: Enjoying a few days of solitude. 2 doctor appointments, 2 shopping sprees, 2 photoshoots, 2 chick flicks, 2(0) loads of laundry, 2 rooms cleaned and organized (unfortunately not the 2 I was really hoping to work on), more than 2 naps, 20 projects still unfinished... I need 2 extra days!!

3:: I LOVE fresh peaches!!!

4:: I don't so much love having so much to do and so little energy/stamina. Sigh.

5:: Okay, I realize that I don't share everything on this blog, and I really try to focus on the positive, but sometimes I realize that y'all might think I have it all together. I'd hate for anyone to think that. So, for the sake of complete honesty:

Most days, lately, this parenting gig has me on my knees by nightfall. No, that isn't quite strong enough. This parenting gig has me flat on my face by mid-morning. I simply don't seem to have what it takes. Not the self-discipline, not the consistency, not the personality, not the energy, not the imagination, not nothin'. I'm so freaking exhausted. The thought of adding a newborn to this life is terrifying.

There really isn't a solution. Well, there are lots of solutions, but every single one requires more of me. And there isn't.

Enough of the honesty, let's find something productive to contemplate...

6:: On Education (and the work force):

*Would You Hire Your Own Kids? 7 Skills Schools Should Be Teaching Them at The Daily Riff:

Clay Parker stressed the importance of employees whom he hires being more than just smart. "I want people who can think -- they're not just bright -- they're also inquisitive. Are they engaged, are they interested in the world?" And Mark Summers told me: "People who've learned to ask great questions and have learned to be inquisitive are the ones who move the fastest in our environment because they solve the biggest problems in ways that have most impact on innovation."

*Here I Stand: 2010 Valedictorian Speech by Erica Goldson:

"And now here I am in a world guided by fear, a world suppressing the uniqueness that lies inside each of us, a world where we can either acquiesce to the inhuman nonsense of corporatism and materialism or insist on change. We are not enlivened by an educational system that clandestinely sets us up for jobs that could be automated, for work that need not be done, for enslavement without fervency for meaningful achievement. We have no choices in life when money is our motivational force. Our motivational force ought to be passion, but this is lost from the moment we step into a system that trains us, rather than inspires us."

7:: On Creativity (and education and industry):

*The Creativity Crisis at Newsweek (fascinating stuff here, friends):

Researchers say creativity should be taken out of the art room and put into homeroom. The argument that we can’t teach creativity because kids already have too much to learn is a false trade-off. Creativity isn’t about freedom from concrete facts. Rather, fact-finding and deep research are vital stages in the creative process. Scholars argue that current curriculum standards can still be met, if taught in a different way.

Having studied the childhoods of highly creative people for decades, Claremont Graduate University’s Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi and University of Northern Iowa’s Gary G. Gute found highly creative adults tended to grow up in families embodying opposites. Parents encouraged uniqueness, yet provided stability. They were highly responsive to kids’ needs, yet challenged kids to develop skills. This resulted in a sort of adaptability: in times of anxiousness, clear rules could reduce chaos—yet when kids were bored, they could seek change, too. In the space between anxiety and boredom was where creativity flourished.

From fourth grade on, creativity no longer occurs in a vacuum; researching and studying become an integral part of coming up with useful solutions. But this transition isn’t easy. As school stuffs more complex information into their heads, kids get overloaded, and creativity suffers. When creative children have a supportive teacher—someone tolerant of unconventional answers, occasional disruptions, or detours of curiosity—they tend to excel. When they don’t, they tend to underperform and drop out of high school or don’t finish college at high rates.

*My childhood friend and writer, Trish Lawrence, has been talking about creativity on her new blog, Bringing Creativity to Life: A Blog for Burnt-Out Human Beings.

I don’t intend to be wildly innovative tomorrow when I brush my teeth or when I do the dishes or when I handle my conference call, but I intend to go in with the right mind. A creativity mindset. To enjoy, to live out, to pursue my passion, wherever and whenever I possibly can. To be happy for the chance to be so creative, to be alive, to have two hands and two feet, to have freedom to accomplish things, and for the breath to do it with.

*If you are interesting in exploring how Christianity and Creativity collide, read Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art by Madeleine L'Engle. This book had a big impact on me as I read it last year, and I'm anticipating revisiting it as it shows up this next month as our book club selection.

To trust, to be truly whole, is also to let go whatever we may consider our qualifications. There's a great paradox here, and a trap for the lazy. I do not need to be "qualified" to play a Bach fugue on the piano (and playing a Bach fugue is for me an exercise in wholeness). But I cannot play that Bach fugue at all if I do not play the piano daily, if I do not practice my finger exercises. There are equivalents of finger exercises in the writing of books, the painting of portraits, the composing of a song. We do not need to be qualified: the gift is free; and yet we have to pay for it...

Creative scientists and saints expect revelation and do not fear it. Neither do children. But as we grow up and we are hurt, we learn not to trust, and that lack of trust is a wound as grievous as whatever caused it.

It strikes me that perhaps I am elevating scientists and down-grading theologians, and that is not true, not fair. For the few scientists who live by revelation there are many more who are no more than technicians, who are terrified of the wide world outside the laboratory, and who trust nothing they cannot prove. Amazing things may happen in their test tubes and retorts, but only the rare few see the implications beyond the immediate experiment. They cannot trust further than their own senses, and this lack of trust is often caught by the rest of us.

*The creative person wants to be a know-it-all. He wants to know about all kinds of things--ancient history, nineteenth century mathematics, current manufacturing techniques, hog futures. Because he never knows when these ideas might come together to form a new idea. It may happen six minutes later, or six months, or six years. But he has faith that it will happen. ~Carl Ally

*We have come to think of art and work as incompatible, or at least independent categories and have for the first time in history created an industry without art. ~Ananda K. Coomaraswamy

Have a lovely weekend, and go BE CREATIVE!

*Creativity is the quality that you bring to the activity that you are doing. It is an attitude, an inner approach – how you look at things . . . Whatsoever you do, if you do it joyfully, if you do it lovingly, if your act of doing is not purely economical, then it is creative. ~Osho

*Creativity is inventing, experimenting, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun. ~Mary Lou Cook

Thursday, July 22, 2010

McKinnon & Monet

McKinnon & Monet 2

Two of my favorite little people.

McKinnon & Monet

Queen Anne's Lace

And, yes, I still have lots of wedding photos to post...
I'll try to get some up tomorrow.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Educational Plans: Fall 2010

(With a newborn baby in the house.)

Levi (8) ~ 3rd Grade
Luke (6) ~ 1st Grade
Leif (4) ~ K4

Classical Conversations (3 hrs (one morning) per week for 12 weeks): Memory work: Bible, math (skip counting), English grammar, Latin, history/timeline, geography, and science. Oral presentation. Fine arts project. Science project. Then social time during lunch.

Daily (4 days per week):

Levi and Luke will have daily checklists for their work, which can mostly be done independently if needed. I hope to have both math worksheets and handwriting workbooks on the table when the boys wake up, so they can start in right away (Russ can get them going if I'm not up yet.)

Leif will be attending Classical Conversations and joining in as much of the other studies as he is able. He will have his own handwriting workbook. My mom has offered to take the boys to Classical Conversations as often as I need her to do so, and may join us even when I'm able to go.

Thanskgiving - New Year's will be bare-bones essentials (math review, handwriting workbooks, reviewing memory work with CDs (no new material), piano practice (Christmas songs), and independent reading) along with as much Christmas season reading and celebrating as we can manage.

In January we will resume our weekly Classical Conversations classes for another 12 weeks (2 weeks off for spring break), the daily tasks we did in the fall, history studies with The Story of the World: Early Modern Times, science with Christian Kids Explore Physics, math lessons with RightStart, and begin studying English grammar, writing, and poetry with Michael Clay Thompson materials. We may take these slowly and then increase our speed in April after CC is finished for the year.

I'm still undecided as to what to do for Latin, as CC uses classical pronunciation which is different from Prima Latina (which we've done) and Latina Christiana's ecclesiastical pronunciation. I've purchased Song School Latin and then will consider using Minimus, Learning Latin Through Mythology, and/or Latin for Children.

I'll be reviewing our studies and schedules as our CC year draws to a close in April.

Not Back to School Blog Hop

I've added this link over at Heart of the Matter for the 2010 (Not) Back-to-School Blog Hop. Why don't you come join the fun?!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Fine Arts: Poetry

Okay, so I had a million OTHER things on my to-do list, and I realize that most days it is a challenge to get to the basic skill subjects (plus having a baby in the house!), but I had a bee-in-my-bonnet day of wanting to plan a fine arts schedule for the next two years!! What was I thinking?! Oh, yeah, I was thinking that I was so inspired by the art study link I shared with you on Monday and re-inspired by the composer study link. And then I had poetry on the brain!

So, I'm in the middle of plotting a fine arts study schedule. One composer, one artist, and one poet a month. Roughly chronological and corresponding with our history studies, as well as the composers and artists scheduled for Classical Conversations. No problem.

For the poet studies, I'll be using a combination of books. I adore A Child's Introduction to Poetry. The first half of the book describes various types of verse with examples and humorous illustrations. The accompanying CD features many of the poems. (We love listening to it in the car!)

The second half of the book lists famous poets in chronological order. There are samples of the poets works, as well as brief biographical information. We'll be using this half of the book for several of our monthly poet studies.

I will also be heavily utilizing the Poetry for Young People series. Our library carries a few titles, my sister has several, and I'll be purchasing the rest (they are fairly inexpensive).

The books begin with a short biography of the titled poet and then an illustrated sampling of the poet's work. There is also a small amount of commentary and definitions of some of the more obscure words.

I'll share my full basic schedule in a few days, and then each month I'll share more details about the composer, artist, and poet we are studying (and any additional resources).

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Fine Arts

The internet is a beautiful, beautiful thing for homeschoolers. There is such an abundance of resources available to parents and their children for little to no cost.

My favorite new site: FAMOUS PAINTINGS Art Appreciation/Lessons For Kids.
These studies of Famous Paintings were written on an elementary level, but will be of interest to all ages. They will help students become familiar with and learn to appreciate the works of famous artists. Teachers, for each lesson you will find a biography of the artist, a study sheet, a worksheet, a greyscale print of the picture, a jigsaw puzzle, a printable and online crossword puzzle, word search, and word scramble, links for further research, and links to art lessons for many of the artists. There are posters, books, and videos you can order.

And there are 48 artists/masterpieces to study!! You could study one artist a month for four years! Fabulous, I tell you!

I've mentioned it before, but have you checked out Classics for Kids? Learn about the instruments of the orchestra and famous composers with radio shows, games, worksheets, quizzes, and even detailed lessons plans covering concepts such as Rhythm, Melody, Form, Timbre/Tone Color, Harmony, and Style. You can study composers by Classics for Kids' monthly featured composer, alphabetically, geographically, by musical period, or in chronological order.

For more about the individual instruments in the orchestra, try San Francisco Symphony Kids. YouTube is an excellent place to search for composers, musical instruments, and artists, as well.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Saturday Seven ~ Week 28

Wedding Ceremony (3)

1:: Off to the annual family reunion, today!! (You know I have to say it: I have the best family!!)

2:: This has been a rillllllllly tough few weeks as far as parenting goes. I'm counting down the days until Boys' Camp. This will be my only year on my own. Then it's Girls' Party for baby girl and me.

3:: I have 3 million (really unexciting) projects planned for my days off, but I'll probably sleep instead.

4:: I still have a bunch of photos to edit. Tired of seeing wedding stuff, yet?

5:: Luke's stitches come out in a couple days. Wowsa, it is a pain to keep a little boy's hand clean and dry during the summer....

6:: My hip is out of whack and it's getting really uncomfortable. I think I'll add a chiropractor visit to my to-do list.

7:: Our thoughtful topic today is books (not much of a surprise around here).

*From The Medium is the Medium at The New York Times:

The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”

But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.

Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.

*More book list fodder: Books for Boys and Other Children Who Would Rather Build Forts All Day from Institute for Excellence in Writing.

*And one can never go wrong quoting C. S. Lewis when books (or anything, really) is the subject:

"I am a product [...of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents' interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass."

Wishing you a life filled with endless books...

Friday, July 16, 2010

A Wedding Story ~ Reception Details

Reception Details

The reception tables offered tins of breadsticks to complement the tempting salad buffet. The evening sunset glow and cooler weather were delicious, too!!

Ready for Send-Off

A Wedding Story ~ The Ceremony


Ceremony (2)

Ceremony (Bride & Groom)

A Wedding Story ~ For the Guests

For the Guests

After a short rest and dinner (provided by the bride's brother-in-law's parents.... YUM!) on the lawn (oh, heavenly cool breeze), guests began arriving. Over at the wedding site, a candy table was set up for the guests to enjoy, as well as clotheslines full of photos of the bride and groom. Two 'photo booths' were available so that the guests could have their pictures taken (with a variety of props) to add to the guest book, before they found their places for the ceremony.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Wedding Story ~ The Bridal Party

Bridal Party

Amber started in on official bridal party and family portraits. I tried to help keep track of what pictures still needed to be taken and captured a few little moments myself.

Bridal Family

When all the bridal party and family were finished, Amber spent more time taking photos of the bride and groom. (I'm on pins and needles waiting to see them!!!) It was a perfect time for me to escape and lie down for a little while, resting up for the evening. It was a hot afternoon, but not quite as bad as the 95-100 degree days preceding Saturday....

Bride and Groom

A Wedding Story ~ Portraits


I decided to follow Amber around while she photographed the bride and groom to see if I could learn anything by osmosis. She was awesome at setting up the shots and directing their poses.

Bride & Groom

Bride & Groom

A Wedding Story ~ First Moment

Bride & Groom's 1st Moment

Next up was the bride and groom's moment to see each other for the first time on the wedding day. The photographer, Amber, was orchestrating the scene, but I was able to capture it from a different angle.

Leaving them to have a few minutes alone, I caught the bridemaids trying to peek.

Bridesmaids Peeking

A Wedding Story ~ Macho Men

Crazy Groomsmen 2

The bride hired a wonderful photographer, Amber of Eternal Grace Photography, for all of her formal portraits and photography. While Amber took photos of the girls, I had some crazy men on my hands. What a way to put everyone in the mood for a lovely and reverent occasion...

Crazy Groomsmen

A Wedding Story ~ Getting Ready

Bride Getting Ready

Then everything was bustling as the bride arrived with her entourage.

Sometime later, the groom and his men put the finishing touches on their ensemble.

Groom Getting Ready