Friday, September 24, 2010

Friday Four ~ Week 38

Sink or Float

:: Life is good.

I'm in a really good place today. Full of contentment and hope. Full of joy. I love my husband. I adore my crazy boys. I am so blessed with an incredible circle of family and friends.

I went to bed early yesterday evening with a book, slept all night, and slept in this morning. Maybe that has something to do with my good mood. Grin.

Today will be a quiet, foggy, rainy day of enjoying home life. The boys are playing creatively in their (clean!) room with playmobil and animal figures. I'm working on laundry and dishes. A little later we'll snuggle on the couch and go over some lessons. We're sure to sneak in a bunch of reading, as well.

:: Learning happens.

Sunday afternoon, Leif found a cork lying about the house and was reminded of a science experiment he watched on one of his Discover and Do DVDs. He recruited Luke to recreate the experiment with him. They got a bowl of water, several items (some from the video, some they thought of on their own), and a science journal to write down their discoveries. Sink or float.

:: Classical Conversations is an early success.

We've had two weeks of classes and lessons, and I'm pleased to say that I think that Classical Conversations was the right choice for us this year. The classes have been very productive. The tutors have been excellent, and just right for each of the boys. I'm so impressed with the work and preparation they've put into their classes. The boys have really been learning and digesting the material. Review has been enjoyable and very easy.... It is something we can do anywhere, at any time. Even while waiting in line for prescriptions at Costco!

I'll share more about CC as we progress through the year, I just wanted to give it an early two thumbs up.

:: Food for thought (Really great stuff. Don't miss this opinion article!):

How to Raise Boys Who Read
Hint: Not with gross-out books and video-game bribes
The Wall Street Journal

Education was once understood as training for freedom. Not merely the transmission of information, education entailed the formation of manners and taste. Aristotle thought we should be raised "so as both to delight in and to be pained by the things that we ought; this is the right education."

"Plato before him," writes C. S. Lewis, "had said the same. The little human animal will not at first have the right responses. It must be trained to feel pleasure, liking, disgust, and hatred at those things which really are pleasant, likeable, disgusting, and hateful."

This kind of training goes against the grain, and who has time for that? How much easier to meet children where they are....

One obvious problem with the SweetFarts philosophy of education is that it is more suited to producing a generation of barbarians and morons than to raising the sort of men who make good husbands, fathers and professionals. If you keep meeting a boy where he is, he doesn't go very far.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Anytime Now...

:: Pre-registered at hospital. Check.

:: Bags packed. Check.

:: Infant car seat purchased and ready to go. Check.

:: Nursery finished. Check.

:: Baby supplies purchased. Baby clothes washed and ready. Check.

:: Luke finished with antibiotics and all cold meds other than one inhaler/once daily. Check.

:: Boys healthy. Check.

:: Date night with hubby and best friends. Check.

:: Hair cut. Check.

:: Toenails painted. Pink. Check.

:: Laundry and dishes done. Check.

:: Banana bread out of the oven. Check.

:: House clean. Check.

:: Books and educational DVDs borrowed from the libray. Check.

:: Boys' bags packed with memory work, reading, and work sheets. Check.

:: Boys bathed. Check.

:: Groceries stocked. Check.

:: Classical Conversations and piano lessons finished for the week. Check.

:: Camera battery charged. Memory card cleared. Check.

:: Sleep. Elusive.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Princess Tower

Baby Nursery
Russ has been working like a crazy person on our little attic room, getting it ready for baby girl. (Thanks, Ron and Mom for helping out!) I have a few details to finish up, but it is ready for visitors (and an occupant... grin). Now that it is put together, I just want to stay up here forever...

Baby Nursery 2
My dad made the cradle for me when I was born. My mom painted the little yellow flowers on it (back in the day, she taught tole painting). The iron bed was my childhood bed. It now sports a colorful, fresh coat of paint. Russ recently found the white dresser at a garage sale and spiffed it up with a coat of paint and new drawer pulls. The raspberry chair was a thrift store find. The little bedside table was an antique/thrift store purchase of mine years ago. The old wooden desk was given to us by Russ's co-worker.

The color-scheme was inspired by wrapping paper (now origami cranes) and cloth napkins (now pillow covers and window valance) found on a girls' weekend in Portland with my sisters and mom back in April.

Nursery 3

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Nursery BEFORE Pictures


These aren't the best photos for seeing the room as a whole, but they are all I've got. Keep in mind that they were taken a couple of years ago and right after the playroom had been 'cleaned.' {wry grin}

This is the only room at the top of a small flight of stairs and has attic access in one of the closet alcoves. The ceiling is low and slopes down on both sides. There is a little dormer window alcove to the right as you head into the room. Did I mention that it is a little room?

I'm optimistic that the room will start coming together this weekend, so maybe I'll be able to show you AFTER pictures next week!!

Saturday Seven ~ Week 37

Ren Faire

1:: We decided to have one last summer and pre-baby hurrah at the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire. It was our fourth year attending, and the boys had been begging to go. It really is a wonderful Ren Faire, and the weather was lovely. The boys were getting over colds, and we thought some time outside might be better than putting them in Sunday school class with other kids.

2:: I worked really hard Sunday evening to help our new Monday morning routine go more smoothly. Monday morning came, and we successfully made it to our first Classical Conversations classes. All things considered, it went very well, though I was exhausted by the time we got home and felt progressively worse (sore throat, headache...) as the day went on. Luke also started coughing more than he had previously.

3:: All our first week of school plans went out the window that night. Luke hardly slept for coughing, he was starting to have trouble breathing, and he ended up with a slight fever. It was a long night for both of us. The next day I took him to the doctor and got a prescription for an inhaler. The rest of the week was a blur. I was sick, Levi and Leif had lingering coughs (and Leif woke up occasionally at night), and Luke was up almost all night every night with non-stop coughing, breathing issues, and fever. Fun stuff.

4:: The sleep deprivation hit me really hard by yesterday (Friday) morning. The doctor called in two new prescriptions for Luke (and I hauled the kids to Costco to pick them up). My mom showed up in the afternoon and sent me to bed. She got some lunch for the boys, managed to get Luke to take a nap, reviewed CC memory work with Levi and Leif, read with the boys, and got dinner on the table. (Have I mentioned how wonderful my mother is?!) My new favorite friend, Olive, spent four hours cleaning my house. Things were looking up. Then, miracle of miracles, Luke slept over 8 hours straight. I had to get up in the middle of the night to make sure he was still breathing!

5:: This weekend will be full of projects, to-do lists, and trying to finish up the nursery. I'll post 'before' pictures shortly. I'm praying that everyone in this house will steadily feel much better, and we'll be bright and chipper by Monday morning!

And to engage our brains:

6:: Phys Ed: Can Exercise Make Kids Smarter? @ The New York Times:

But for now, the takeaway is clear. “More aerobic exercise” for young people[...] So get kids moving, he added, and preferably away from their Wiis. A still-unpublished study from his lab compared the cognitive impact in young people of 20 minutes of running on a treadmill with 20 minutes of playing sports-style video games at a similar intensity. Running improved test scores immediately afterward. Playing video games did not.

7:: The Case for Memorization by Stefani Austin (of Blue Yonder) @ Simple Homeschool:

To the boy who can recite “Paul Revere’s Ride,” a lowly broomstick is the noble steed that will, at midnight, help him to warn his countrymen of approaching danger.

A girl who has internalized Lewis Carroll’s “Jaberwocky” runs after the family dog with her paper towel tube saber crying, “Beware … my son, the jaws that bite the claws that catch.”

The great speeches of days of gone by, issued from atop the jungle gym, make history ring true to a young heart. When he can speak them, he has, in his own way, lived those pivotal moments in history through his own imagination. They are no longer simply trivia, but wisdom gained through experience.

Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things.

~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal

Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.

~From the television show The Wonder Years

And even if you were in some prison, the walls of which let none of the sounds of the world come
to your senses - would you not then still have your childhood, that precious, kingly possession, that treasure-house of memories?

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Wednesday, September 15, 2010



I have all sorts of chit-chatting to do with y'all, but it will have to wait for another day. Thank you so much for the comments, FB messages, and emails I received regarding my 'note to a friend' post. I wish I had the time to reply individually to each and every one of you right away, but I now have 5 sick people in my house, sigh.

Luke has hardly slept the last two nights (which means his sick mother hasn't, either) due to fever and non-stop coughing, so our first week of lessons at home have been completely derailed with a doctor visit, errands and prescription pick-up, and sleep deprivation.

On a very happy note, I have a new most favorite person. She has deep-cleaned my living room, kitchen, and bathroom, top to bottom. I am one happy camper.

We also had a successful first week at Classical Conversations. (I didn't know Luke was coming down with such a bad cold!) Thanks to the wonderful learning opportunity and the great material to review, this week won't be a complete wash-out. My four year old was begging to share the 8 parts of speech with his dad yesterday evening. Luke has 7 types of biomes down pat. We are singing about Charlemagne, locating European waters, chanting Latin, skip counting 2s, and more. Now if we can manage to get some handwriting, math, and spelling in, we'll be doing very well.

Because I don't like to post without pictures, I'll leave you with a sampling of the head shots I took for a friend a while back and forgot to post. Tinsa is a wonderful real estate agent (she sold my sister's house in one week!), so check her out if you are in the area and need her services!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Another Note to (Another) Friend

(Sharing rambling, unpolished honesty here as I did a year ago with another friend, with the hope that it will bless others.)

Hope in the Dark

Dear Friend,

Oh, girl, I've been there, am there, and will be there... in that same place. For probably a few years.... This season of our lives is TOUGH. And it feels worse because we feel like we SHOULDN'T be there. Mothering is beautiful, right? And kids are an amazing blessing, right? And we are lucky to be home with them, right? And if we are good parents, the kids will be well-behaved, right? And homeschooling will turn our children into amazing, intelligent, well-balanced adults, right?

But we're exhausted, overwhelmed, guilty, and alone. And then we get less accomplished. Stuff (and to-do's) start piling up. And then we feel more guilty and overwhelmed. And it feels like it WILL NEVER BE ANY DIFFERENT. Unless it gets worse. THAT we can imagine.

Then there are the things we can do to make things better. The 'advice.' Except those things feel like adding to the to-do's. They take time, energy, and/or money. So, I can give you advice, but I understand what it will feel like. :( Get enough sleep. ( if we had control over that, and as if we didn't just want to take a nap instead of doing what we are suppose to be doing.) Eat well. (I'm a huge comfort-food eater, but when I was depressed it began with anxiety which made me nauseated and I lost my appetite. That was WEIRD. And fed the anxiety. Either way, I have no desire to eat a big bowl of veggies and fix my family great meals.) Clean the house and get organized. (This is HUGE, but an insurmountable obstacle when one is depressed and has NO energy or get-up-and-go, and often what sends me into depression in the first place.) Exercise. (When? And with what energy? Yeah.) Hire help. (How does one find good help, and where does the money with which to pay them come from? Oh, and then the guilt, because we should be able to do it all.) Stop reading about sad stuff. (Sounds terribly shallow and un-Christ-like (more guilt), but my first priority (and ministry) is my family, and I have to be able to function and take care of them.)

Oh, and take medication. There it is. Probably one of the things you don't want to do, but the only real advice I have, because taking meds CHANGED EVERYTHING for me. It doesn't work well for everyone (without side effects), but it worked wonders for me within a couple weeks. We had an amazing (FUN!!) family vacation right after that, and then a wonderful holiday season. It felt sooooo good. Then I could get out of the depression rut. It was easier to get things done, I had more energy, motivation, and a better attitude. Not like I wasn't ME, but like I was a FUNCTIONING me, you know?

I didn't want to stay on meds, so I weaned myself really slowly during summer. I started in October, and the Dr. recommended staying on them at least 6 months and only stopping them during nice weather (rather than the dead of dreary winter....). Then I started taking some herbal stuff. My sister and I got up early most mornings to walk together starting in October. I think that really helped. Exercise + fresh air + an hour of uninterrupted talking with my sister = therapy. It cut into my sleep, so that was tough, but I really needed the exercise. And I read funny books instead of serious ones.

I could feel myself slipping (though not nearly as badly) last Nov/Dec, just feeling as if there wasn't enough of me to do my job as mom and wife. And then guilt about that, because I SHOULD be enough. I just must be lazy. Sigh. So it was a HUGE BLOW to find out I was pregnant. (Oh, more guilt. I should have felt so blessed.) Any glimmers of the 'light at the end of the tunnel' (AKA: all children being semi-independent and able to contribute to the household) were gone. Already I wasn't 'enough' and then I was facing months of extreme fatigue, nausea, personal space issues (I feel claustrophobic when largely pregnant.... don't TOUCH ME!!), and all the other physical AND EMOTIONAL stuff. Oh, and Dr appointments, labs, etc... Oh, and then delivery and recovery. Oh, and then the newborn phase (sleep deprivation turns me into a walking nightmare). Oh, and as if I didn't have enough to do every day, let's add 8 hours of nursing. During which the boys understand that I'm less able to deal with them (think phone calls), so they act up and get into more trouble.

So, the winter was bad. And then we had a terribly rainy, extended spring. Then the boys started going CRAZY. They were getting into an obscene amount of trouble. They needed to be watched 24-7. Like all in the same room with me. Including quiet time and bed time. I almost lost it. Russ took them on the boys' camping trip, and that was the start of the turn-around. I desperately needed that time alone. It was heaven. Then the boys had 3 WEEKS of VBS. We HAD to get up in the morning and get ready and eat breakfast and get somewhere. I had 3 hours of quiet time, and they got messy crafts, interesting snacks, fun songs, 'education', games and exercise, and social time. All by noon. AMAZING. I had no guilt whatsoever if we did no other fun things. We could do quiet time or chores or errands for the afternoon...whatever *I* needed. I could just kiss those VBS people, LOL.

We are FINALLY remodeling the upstairs attic room into a nursery. It took my sister and her husband coming over and spending a couple hours dealing with the ridiculous mess which used to be a playroom. Once they got the ball rolling, I had to step up. :) It got me excited about getting everything together for baby. I'm trying to get things done and facing the fact that I'll have a newborn within a few weeks (officially 4 weeks until due date, but I'm praying she's a little early...). And getting things done tends to create energy for me. I have the hardest time getting going (depression really magnifies that), but once I get going I do much better. The nursery will look so wonderful when it is finished. I think I'll live up there. :) It also gives me a place for the stuff that has been overflowing in our bedroom (adding stress). And I'll feel amazing when my basic before-baby checklist is done.

One of the biggest changes happens this week. I'm getting help. Yep. Found someone I'm actually excited about. IF she works out, I might have her here every afternoon for a couple months to do all the house cleaning (I HATE cleaning house, but I HATE a messy/dirty house) and whatever else I need her to do (child care, dishes, even help with meals). I can't even fathom having a completely clean house at this point. It is beyond thrilling. Now, we'll just see if I can handle having someone in my personal space. Sigh. I really might live in the attic room. But to have a clean house when people come over to see the baby? It's going to be worth it.

As far as school goes, I think Classical Conversations will be PERFECT for us this fall. Forced get-up-and-go and accountability for me. It starts next week, so I'm hoping to start our light fall schedule then. Bare bones. If I can accomplish that, I'll feel so much better than if I try too much and fail (happens every time). And since I have no idea what this baby will be like in terms of personality and needs (or how the boys will respond to/be distracted by her), we'll have time to figure that out before adding to our schedule.

So, here is my happy list:

::Get one room clean and beautiful and then live in there. :)
::Start getting things done on the to-do list. It feels good once you get started.
::Hire someone to help out. Let them do stuff you HATE to do but makes you feel GREAT when it's done.
::Cut yourself some slack.
::Do bare-bones homeschooling and feel good when you get it done. After a while, add one thing at a time until it feels manageable.
::Read a funny book. Like Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, A Year in Provence, Cheaper by the Dozen, or Down the Garden Path.
::Find someone/something to keep you accountable in the areas in which you struggle.
::If you can't get started on a task, ask a friend or family member for help. If they show up to help, you have step up. :)
::(And take meds if you can't pull yourself out of a downward spiral.)

Oh, and was a life-saver for me after Levi was born. Helped me create routines, focus on what I COULD do, and stay on top of things. Very positive, simple baby steps. I'm going to be using some of her systems to get myself organized and so that I can tell my 'housekeeper' what to do. :)

Well, this novel probably isn't all that encouraging, other than to let you know that I really do understand where you're coming from, and I'm guessing a huge number of mothers with several young children feel the very same way.

P.S. Boys terrorizing 'MY' house, YES. And destroying EVERY thing they touch. Yes. And being loud. And messy. And not comprehending what that feels like to me. I take it personally, and I shouldn't. But I do. And our relationships tank. And then the whole house is in shambles (broken, messy, dirty) and I 'know' that if I clean it up and organize it (with blood, sweat, and tears), it will be back to shambles tomorrow. That sucks every bit of motivation I have right out of me. So I let it go, and it gets worse, and I feel worse about life. Oh, what cycles we get ourselves into!!

P.S.S. Things have been going fairly well for me the past month and a half. The past week or two has been great. The boys and I have really enjoyed each other, the house is shaping up (what a difference that makes!!), and the project and to-do lists are showing progress. I've been allowing people to help out (that's a tough one for me!) and have been more social than usual. I'm getting quite excited about bringing home a little baby girl and introducing her to everyone!!

Reading Round-Up ~ August: The Hunger Games Edition

Warning: Spoilers ahead. You might not want to read if you have not yet finished The Hunger Games trilogy.

Disclaimer: I am no expert at literary analysis. This review is not intended to reveal the author's intentions, rather only my personal interpretation.

Credits: Thank you to Susan at Short on Words, the ladies at The Well-Trained Mind Forums, Christina, and Mom for helping me hash out the ideas presented in this review. Susan, thanks for the word 'innocence.' Christina, thanks for the word 'hope,' and helping me understand why it was a hard thing for Katniss to grasp.

I finished the third Hunger Games book, Mockingjay, some time ago, but it is the kind of book that keeps you thinking long after reading. It was only today that I felt that I had solidified my ideas enough to write a review. Thanks, Christina and Mom, for the exceptional, engaging conversations today!!

I first opened The Hunger Games at the end of last year. It was outside of my normal reading fare, but I was intrigued after reading reviews by Seth at Collateral Bloggage and my friend Trish at Bringing Creativity to Life. I read the book in one day. It was impossible to set down.

A short while later, I gave in to temptation and read the second book, Catching Fire. In one day. I don't know when I have been so fired up at the end of a book. Catching Fire leaves the reader hanging by the thinnest of threads. And I had months to wait until the final book was released. I did what I have never done before: pre-ordered the book on Amazon and waited with no patience, whatsoever.

I marked the day out on my calendar. Nothing was going to stop me from reading Mockingjay the moment it arrived. The UPS guy drove up and I raced out the door (shoving Russ aside, as he was fighting me for first dibs). The UPS guy looked at me (wrestling with Russ) strangely, told me that he always knew what house he would be visiting when he had an Amazon box on board (is this where I admit an addiction?), shook his head, and drove away.

After a couple of weeks of mulling it over, here are my vague, hopeful, transcendent thoughts on the subject:

The series was about human nature and the choices with which we are faced in this life. Katniss represented freedom (and strength) of thought and action. The government represented oppression. Gale, self-sufficiency and intelligence.

Katniss was a realist. In the beginning, survival of the present was her main goal. Gale's strengths were tangible (food, protection, wits) and of the highest importance.

But Katniss's inherent goodness was her value of human life. She was willing to sacrifice herself to save her sister. Prim represented innocence. Katniss headed to the arena, determined to tackle whatever she might face (in the present) on her own (independence).

What she didn't see coming was Peeta. He represented hope (future) with transcendent gifts (creativity in words and painting). He was able to move people, lodging in their hearts, but Katniss was unable to believe in his love because it didn't make sense in her world. Little by little, as they lived through the experience of the arena together, she was influenced and inspired by him, resulting in an ending that was beyond what seemed possible.

The violence in the arena wasn't random violence for it's own sake, but calculated violence by the government (oppression) to take the strongest toll on each player's spirit (not to mention the message the games were sending to the districts). Rue's death represented the beginning of the loss of innocence that must take place in war, no matter what side one is fighting for.

When the present struggle subsided, Katniss was faced with a tough choice: Gale or Peeta. She and Peeta now shared something that she couldn't ignore, but it was also something without definition. Gale again became an essential part of her reality. Which was more important?

With her freedom and strength of mind and action, Katniss had rallied an entire nation and Peeta had infused them with hope. But the oppression continued to beat them down. It was back to the arena. This time, Katniss was determined to keep Peeta alive because she understood how much the people needed him, but she didn't quite understand the weight of her own role.

Katniss's ability to see value in people played a much larger part the second time around. Suddenly, teamwork was imperative, and understanding that everyone had something to give became essential. The world was placing their bets on the Sauls, while Katniss searched out the Davids. She had to learn to trust and have faith, to see outside her box of the present reality. She had to figure out who was the real enemy.

By the third fight, she was out of steam. Peeta was gone. Reality returned with Gale. Katniss realized that the choice was hers, and she chose to keep going even when hope was much less tangible than before. Her internal freedom was her fire.

She had to learn the hard way that with human nature, 'power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.' That oppression for the good of the people is still oppression. That self-sufficiency and intelligence are not, in and of themselves, goodness. That victory isn't the end of the story. That war is sometimes inevitable but it is always costly and comes with a loss of innocence and scars that don't erase. That history cycles over and over again.

She had to learn that she was given the freedom and strength of mind and actions to choose hope, even when it would take extraordinary faith in the unseen and unfathomable. That having the free will to choose hope is better than power and glory. That the manifestation of hope on this earth might be different from what one imagined it to be in the adrenaline of battle. That the vibrant green grass will return to cover the meadow, but the bones and scars and sacrifice will still be underneath. That her children, in innocence, would only see the green grass and not fully appreciate the bones and scars, but that was the very purpose for which she fought.

The End.

The capacity for hope is the most significant fact of life.It provides human beings with a sense of destinationand the energy to get started.

~Norman Cousins

And now I need a really funny book to read. Any suggestions?

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

I'm Still Here

The Many Faces of Luke

Not Saturday (or Sunday), more than a week, and more than seven...

I've been slacking on the blogging, lately, but you will all forgive me, right? Let's play catch-up with more details about my life than you wanted to know.

1:: VBS, oh, how I love you; let me count the ways. The boys attended THREE weeks of VBS this summer, the last at a charming little church less than a mile down the road. Which means we were up and ready for our day by 8:45. The boys got three hours of physical group games, upbeat songs with hand motions, messy crafts, fun themed snacks, and social interaction every morning. Which meant I got three hours of silence and then felt no remorse expecting quiet time, chores, or independent play for the afternoon. The only draw-back: a counter COVERED in crafts with which the boys are loath to part. Oh, and the germs they brought home. I've had to fight off several colds the past month or two. Seriously, though, I think VBS single-handedly saved my sanity this summer.

2:: My sister, Shannon, and her husband, Ben, came and cleaned out the upstairs 'playroom' for me a few weeks ago. You have NO IDEA how bad this room was. I won't tell you, either, because it is plain embarrasssing. Good grief. What a HUGE job, and what a huge blessing that was to me!!

Since they got the ball rolling, I've been able to muster up some enthusiasm for turning the room into a baby nursery. It is in the process of transformation (Russ has been working his tail off, and THANK YOU, Ron, for helping out this past weekend!!), and I am soooo looking forward to getting the painting done this week and then putting up the finishing touches. You can be sure I'll share pictures when it's ready!

3:: Getting going on the nursery has (finally) inspired me to get a few other things on the pre-baby check list accomplished. Trying to finish as many of those as possible this week. My get-up-and-go has been sadly lacking for a while (like the past eight months....), so I'm praying this will be a sustained burst of productivity.

4:: One of the things on my to-do list this week: meet with a wonderful girl who will be helping around the house for the next couple months. I'll share more about her later, but I'm wildly ecstatic about the possibility of my house being clean and staying that way before, during, and after the birth of this baby.

5:: I'm trying to get as much of the to-do list checked off this week, because Classical Conversations begins this coming Monday. Tuesday will mark the start of our simplified fall school schedule at home. I was an utter failure at summer school, so we'll see how this goes.

6:: I never posted pictures of Boys' Camp or Shannon's house. (Or several other things this year.) I wonder if I'll ever get around to that?

7:: Baby is due in four weeks. I've been chatting with her, and have asked her to please humor me and show up somewhere between September 19th and October 1st. Not before. Not after. We'll see how obedient she is...

8:: Speaking of (un)productivity, I read only one book last month (which was more than the month before). I read Mockingjay, the third and final book in The Hunger Games trilogy. I would review it, but I can't without spoilers. (So, go read it, and we'll chat!) Fascinating stuff and lots to thinks about and discuss. I liked the second book, Catching Fire, the best, though.

Oh, and look. Something not about me:

9:: I've said it before, and I'll say it again: The internet is an amazing thing for free homeschooling resources. My latest discovery? Core Knowledge (of E. D. Hirsch, Jr./Cultural Literacy fame) has made their entire (very detailed) Core Knowledge Sequence: Skills and Content Guildlines from preschool through eighth grade available online for FREE download! And they have a large number of detailed lesson plans (search by grade or subject) available for free download, as well. Fantastic stuff.

I reviewed the book Cultural Literacy: What Every American Needs to Know some time ago. It is an excellent read. And I think that A First Dictionary of Cultural Literacy is a fabulous reference for homeschoolers.

10:: On vocabulary:

We cannot Name or be Named without language. If our vocabulary dwindles to a few shopworn words, we are setting ourselves up for takeover by a dictator. When language becomes exhausted, our freedom dwindles--we cannot think; we do not recognize danger; injustice strikes us as no more than "the way things are."

~ Madeleine L'Engle, Walking on Water

How are YOU? Have you embraced your autumn routine?

Thursday, September 2, 2010

How to Take Your Own School Photos


The yearly, right-of-passage school photos were something I couldn’t decide whether to love or hate as a child. I remember the anticipation of being handed the envelope with my pictures, praying they had turned out well. And the dread of the teacher showing everyone (yes, that happened) when they hadn’t.

Haven’t we all looked back at some of our own school photos and cringed, whether it was the outrageous perm, the out-of-style glasses, or the braces? Or maybe it was the one shot we had at a decent facial expression.

But now that I am (much, much) older, I look at those pictures with a certain fondness. The regularity with which they occurred made it easy to see how much I changed and grew from year to year.

It can be easy as homeschooling families to set aside some of the institutional school traditions, or reject the cookie-cutter, conveyor-belt photography. We don’t need to throw out the baby with the bath water, however. Our children grow and change so quickly, that if we don’t take the time to capture them in a picture (quirks and all), those moments will be gone forever.

Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still. ~Dorothy Lange

Making a tradition of back to school photos is a great way to ensure that you and your children will possess consistent reminders of who they were and who they became.

Here are a few tips to get you started.

I'm over at Simple Homeschool, today. Head on over to read the rest.