Thursday, December 29, 2011

Whole(ish)30(ish): Take 2

We’re going to get a good start on our new year. Our menu will be mostly Paleo but with some cheese snuck in here and there. This time I’m going to work in some form of exercise. I’m posting my general menu ideas for reference.

Anyone joining me? {Come on. You can do it!}

Sliced bananas or sauteed cinnamon apples with pecans and coconut milk
Banana with almond butter
Chopped nut, seed, and dried fruit cereal with coconut milk
Eggs, eggs, and more eggs
Sausage or Bacon
Green smoothies (banana, OJ or canned unsweetened pineapple, baby spinach, and frozen berries in Vitamix)
Sauteed steak and veggies
Pumpkin/apple/bacon biscuits

Tuna, lettuce, cherry tomato, and sunflower seed wraps
Various soups, salads, or leftovers

Deviled eggs
Almonds and dried cranberries
Black olives
Celery with almond butter
Sweet potato chips

To Go:
Lara Bars

Bun-less loaded burgers
Grilled meat + roasted veggie (cauliflower, cabbage, sweet potato) + green salad
Roasted broccoli with chicken apple sausage and slivered almonds
Pizza salad or taco salad
Pizza with chicken or cauliflower crust
Grilled Lemon Chicken and Faux-tato Salad
Ginger and Cilantro Baked Tilapia
Chicken antipasto kabobs (chicken, artichoke hearts, olives, cherry tomatoes (mozzarella))
Slow Cooker Latin Chicken
Egg flower soup and Chinese meat and veggie platter (take-out)
Shrimp and Egg Flower Soup
Beef and veggie stew
Chicken and veggie soup (or pumpkin veggie chicken soup)
Sausage tomato soup
Cabbage soup with chicken and pork
Moo Shu Vegetables
Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers with marinara sauce and green salad
Indian Chicken Curry
Garlic Shrimp and Tomatoes
Zucchini Lasagna
Fajitas in lettuce bowl or fajita chicken salad
Spaghetti meat sauce over spaghetti squash
Roasted Brussels sprouts, apples, and bacon
Avocado, tomato, cucumber, (mozzarella) salad
Chorizo Mini Meatloaves with Chipotle, Tomato Relish
Pulled pork spareribs with coffee/molasses barbeque sauce (for cheat-nights :))

Cook hamburger and onion in olive and sesame oils. Add a teaspoon of coriander then toss in a bag of frozen chopped broccoli. Serve as is or stuffed into a baked acorn squash or bell pepper.

Sautee zucchini, yellow squash, and onions in bacon fat. Add shrimp and crumbled bacon. Add baby spinach at the last minute. Top with lemon juice.

Good Earth Lemongrass Green Tea
Lots of water

Chocolate milkshakes (frozen banana, coconut milk, cocoa powder, a couple frozen strawberries in Vitamix)
Chocolate date balls (pecans, dates, and cocoa powder in food processor; roll into balls)

Chocolate Mug Cake (with coconut milk and almond flour)
Dates with cream cheese

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


It never ceases to amaze me, this time speeding by like a freight train. I feel all funky, and busy, and lazy—all at the same time. Life is good, so good. I want to be content, but not complacent. I’m thinking of this past year, so close to an end; this new year, just on the brink.

My reading was almost non-existent in 2011 because I had so little ME time and I just needed sleep. I need to return to intentional reading.

May was a great month of healthy eating, but bad habits slowly returned and December has been a very unhealthy one. I haven’t spent regular time exercising since I stopped walking with my sister in 2010! I need to return to healthy eating and exercising.

LIFE was my one little word for 2011. (I’m all about 4-letter L words…) What will be my focus for 2012? Will it be just one little word?

Are you thinking about the new year? Are you making plans or taking each day as it comes?

Monday, December 26, 2011



Homemade breakfast burritos and pre-Christmas crafts and baking.






Christmas day at ‘Bambi’ and ‘Poppy’s’ house.


(Manger built by my nephew, Drake:)


(Luke reading the Christmas story:)






(Drake made catapult kits for the boys, wrapped them himself, and then helped the boys build them!)



(Bambi made capes, tunics, and Robin Hood hats for each of the boys. I’m pretty sure Levi is going to live in his.)


(My Dad came walking with us! It’s been six weeks since his open-heart surgery.)








Thursday, December 22, 2011

J’ Adore

Have you watched Hugo, yet? GORGEOUS, LOVELY, SPECTACULAR film. The lighting, the characters, the atmosphere, the history, the theme, everything. We loved it. Levi and I read the book last year; Luke just read it last week. (It’s a little traumatic for the younger folk. I’m glad the five-year-old stayed home.)

The Hayes Family

I thought for certain I had already posted photos of this awesome family, but it appears I haven’t!

Faith and I met years and years (and years ago) when we were kids. We had mutual family friends. The beauty of the virtual world is such that time and distance are of no consequence. We reconnected over a couple blog posts and then through facebook, even though Faith and her family were living as missionaries in Mexico at the time.

Their family has gone through so many changes and upheavals in the past two years, but they now live within driving distance of me. Their beautiful daughter, Charlotte Joy, arrived in this world a couple months ago. She was born with Down Syndrome. I have been tremendously blessed by this family and their love for one another! I asked Faith a few weeks ago if I could drive to see them and take pictures of Charlotte and their whole family.

We had a wonderful afternoon spending time together, chatting, and taking pictures. It was a much-needed time away for me, and I felt doubly blessed!

Hayes 1 Hayes 2 Hayes 3 Hayes 4

Monday, December 19, 2011


Christmas decor

When I say that we are having a low-key Christmas, I really do mean it. We’ve hardly left the house for a week and a half. We are all feeling so much better, though, and who knows what this week will bring. The pictures from the first week of December have been begging to be posted. I ended up hosting my book club Christmas party at the last minute (due to my own poor planning), and it was such a wonderful, cozy evening with friends!! I wish I had pictures to share, but I have trouble hosting and taking pictures at the same time.

Advent reading:


Christmas Storybook Land:

Storybook land (2) storybook land

Our traditional St. Nicholas Day celebration with friends:

Making Marzipan

Making marzipan: For the kids, this is the highlight of the celebration. Char and I have to practice letting go of all perfection and preconceived notions of what the marzipan fruits and vegetables are ‘supposed’ to look like, and allow the kids to experiment with aliens and volcanoes. (Char does well with letting go; I…not so much, but I’m getting better.) Lola thought marzipan was delicious.

Marking Marzipan (2)


We were so preoccupied with the marzipan that we almost forgot to put out our shoes for St. Nicholas!!

gold coins

Thursday, December 15, 2011


There were all these hopes and dreams of a productive, active, creative, lovely Christmas season. Then the past week happened. Today, after a visit to the pediatrician with three of my children and also a visit to my doctor, I picked up four, yes, FOUR prescriptions for antibiotics. Conjunctivitis, bronchitis, double ear infections, and strep (among other things). How Levi has escaped (so far), I’ll never know.

The house is a waste land. Our productivity is low, LOW. I’d love to say that the boys have just cozied up with books and charming Christmas movies all week, but I think there was much more Phineas and Ferb (and, ‘quick, Mom’s not looking, let’s do whatever we want’) happening. No read-alouds because my throat feels like it is full of glass shards.

Fun times. I am so ready for a decent night’s sleep.

But life is still good. It just ebbs and flows. And it is okay if December is not quite the wonderland I had pictured in my head (and on Pinterest).

We’ll make up for it next week, right?  Tonight I’m going to bed early, and I’m POSITIVE (children, did you hear that?) everyone is going to sleep all. night. long.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


I’m on a roll today. Actually, I am practicing creative procrastination. Or maybe it is my version of couch potato for the sick person. More Facebook goodness. Well, it is from The Circe Institute blog, but their posts are linked on FB. (Do you see how I justify my FB habit?)

True Lies by Angelina Stanford @ The Circe Institute:

When I was a kid I was taught by my elementary teachers that non-fiction books are true and that fiction books are not true. I bet most of us were taught that same distinction. But as an adult I have discovered that these categories are very misleading and problematic…

Works of fiction, especially fairy tales, can develop a child’s moral imagination, can help them distinguish right from wrong, and can prepare them for the great battles of their lives.

Comparing truths in fiction and nonfiction recently came up elsewhere in my reading. From Classics in the Classroom by Michael Clay Thompson:

A point about fiction and nonfiction: we must teach our students not to mistake the natures of fiction and nonfiction. The amateur’s specious idea that nonfiction classics such as The Autobiography of Malcolm X are true and fictional classics such as Silas Marner are not true must be carefully avoided. Some of history’s greatest and most evil fictions have appeared in nonfiction works (Hitler’s Mein Kampf  is an example), and some of humanity’s truest truths have appeared in works of fiction, such as Oedipus Rex, Moby Dick, or Les Miserables. There are forms of truth that only fiction seems capable of reaching…

Of course, the heart of this discussion about classics, ideas, thinking, and intellectual freedom is that education must be, in essence, a search for truth. It is a mark of how cynical, feckless, and decadent we have become that to view education as a search for truth seems naive and idealistic. But what is the alternative view? Would anyone feel comfortable seriously articulating it? The hard fact is that if education does not concern itself with the search for truth, it is fraudulent….

If teachers are engaged with their students in an exciting…search for truth, rather than in an endless concatenation of time-consuming, unfocused, pseudo-educational hubbub, then truth can be found, and students can be instructed.

Santa Lucia

We missed St. Lucia Day yesterday due to sickness at our house, but we might have to have a belated celebration next week when we are all feeling better. I also have pictures to share from our St. Nicholas Day celebration last week. All sorts of lovely.

(LOVE this next song...)


See the Beauty of the Thing

Did you know that there are beautiful, passionate, intelligent thoughts on Facebook? ‘Tis true. Such as this quote by Richard Bausch:

“Had an algebra teacher, Mrs. Croft. She'd step back from it all and ask us to see the beauty of the thing itself. "Look at this. This is always true." I got a C that year, first grade in math above F or D. And I took it with me, that stepping back, into my working life as a teacher. So. Take a step back and look at how beautiful it is, what you are aiming to do. You are taking part in one of the greatest miracles of human life: the triadic event, the linguists call it. We do it as a species; at its lowest level, it is nothing more than gossip: two minds concerned with a third thing. But look where it leads. Homer in 700 BC, writing about Hector with his shiny helmet on, and his baby son doesn't recognize him and is frightened, and so Hector, who has to die and knows it, takes the helmet off so the boy can see his father. And it breaks our hearts to read it, here, in 2011, and the mind that made it up was dust 700 years before Christ walked the earth. Think of it--think what you are involved in: that ancient mind is speaking to us from two thousand seven hundred years ago. And it is this miracle that defines us as a species; it cheats time and distance and cultural variance and death itself. And when you try to write you are taking part in that miracle no matter what else you call it. You are not different in kind than anyone who ever tried to do it. This is why I say celebrate it. Be glad of the good fortune of having the will and what time there is and the gift of having it to do. It is a generous and loving act of grace, not an indulgence. The indulgences are what you give up to do it.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

We Read.


It’s just what we do.

My mom and dad read. My sisters read. My husband reads.

Lola falls asleep with a book in her hands while we snuggle at bedtime. Every time.

My boys read.

Yes, I have boys who read.

They fight. They wrestle. They are so. very. loud. They jump off the bunk beds. They play computer games. They watch (sometimes brainless) television. They are social (understatement alert). They ride bikes. They swim. Their bodies are in constant motion. Their mouths are in constant motion. (I have three of the talking-est boys you will ever meet.)

And they read. A lot.

Sometimes I imagine a little conversation going on in heaven. It is one where God is planning all the ways in which the blessing-boys He chose for me will break stretch and challenge and teach and refine me. And then He decides to give me a… reward, if you will, and make them all readers in addition to their other, uh, qualities.

The reading thing—it is my sanity. It is wonderful to be able to sit the boys down with a book while I'm otherwise occupied or when I am in desperate need of some quiet space.

They read at home. They find books when we are out and about visiting—and just sit down to read. They read in Costco. They spend most of our driving time reading (thank heavens they don’t get car sick!).

I don’t know how it happened. Not only are my boys strong, independent readers, but they are willing to read almost anything I put in front of them. I work hard (sometimes very hard!!) to find quality books that will appeal to them in a wide range of subjects and reading levels. If they really don’t care for a book, I try not to push it.

Levi, in particular, is such a good sport and reads such a challenging variety, that if he tells me he truly doesn’t care for a book I’ll just let it go. (And in return, I also overlook many of his own book choices that I don’t care for, knowing his main literary diet is a quality one.)

I often ask Luke to read just a couple pages or the first chapter or two of a book. Sometimes that does the trick, and he finishes the book. Sometimes he doesn’t like it at all, and we find a new selection for him.

Why am I telling you this? I’ve gotten several comments and questions about the reading lists I post as part of our weekly or monthly ‘reports.’

Are the books on our list read aloud, cover to cover? When I began this homeschooling journey, one of the things I was most excited about was being able to read all the great history and literature books with the boys. As it turns out, there are only so many hours in a day. And somehow I couldn’t wrap my head around that before. I WANT to read all those books aloud.

But the rest of our subjects are teacher-intensive. Keeping up with life is me-intensive. I have a 1 year old who needs a lot of attention. The 5 year old needs a lot of attention, and he would have to be duct-taped in order to sit still and quiet enough to sit with us. The 7 year old is profoundly visual, and he can only stand to be read to if he is smack-dab up against me with my fingers running under each word as I read. (I still hear ‘where are you?’ incessantly while I read.) (For what it’s worth, I hated being read aloud to when I was young for the same reason, and a great deal of the books would float by me unheard while I was daydreaming.) My 9 year old loves to hear books read aloud, but the interruptions are annoying and he could read about 10 books in the time it takes me to read one aloud.

Excuses? Yep. But I’m human (even lazy on occasion, gasp), and I can only do so much.

And so—most of the books on our list are read independently (cover to cover) by Levi and Luke. I read The Story of the World aloud. I try to have one book in process of being read aloud, even if it takes forever to finish. The other books range from simple picture books to much more challenging chapter books. I assign specific pages in the history encyclopedias to correspond with our studies (though they will probably have read them cover to cover by the time we’re done with our 4 year history cycle.) The longer chapter books are usually only read by Levi. I try to indicate which chapter books were read by which boy (or both) for my own records. Leif reads books here and there, but his reading is much more difficult to keep track of.

How do I choose which books to read? The history and literature selections correspond with our history studies. Last year they generally lined up with our Classical Conversations topics. This year they line up with the topics we are covering in The Story of the World. Many books are from the book lists in the SOTW activity guide. My sister and I own a large (ahem) collection of books, which we share. Otherwise, I keep in mind our up-coming history topics and see what our library has to offer. I scour Amazon for ideas.

For literature, I am trying to have the boys work through some classics chronologically. I use the literature lists in the reading sections of The Well-Trained Mind as a spring-board. I’d love to have our literature reading line up perfectly with our history studies, but I’m not that talented. As much as possible, Levi is reading unabridged versions, but we also do retellings (picture books, simple chapter books, audio CDs, and even movies). I try to find biographies of the authors as well. I love a good picture book biography!!

For free reading, I consult multiple book lists, recommendations from friends, see what pops out at me when I visit the library, and (again) scour Amazon.

How do I keep track of our reading? Right here. At the beginning of the month I start a post, add to it as we finish books, tasks, or activities, and publish it at the end of the month. That’s it. This blog is the sum total of my record keeping. Everything in one place, tagged by subject. Memories? Here. Photos? Here. Recipes? Here. Ideas? Here. Links? Here. Book lists? Here.

If you have managed to get this far, let me sum up: My boys are boys. But they are also readers. They make me (and our book lists) look really good. Nothing else in our lives is as consistent. (House cleaning, routines, meals, discipline, activities, bedtimes, whatever. At least the boys read. Ha!) And, in a sad turn of events, my own reading has gone ‘poof!’ into thin air.

Any questions?

Friday, December 9, 2011

Why Beauty Matters

More on beauty. (HT: Tucker Teague, of course.)

“If a work of art is nothing more than an idea, anybody can be an artist, and any object can be a work of art. There is no longer any need for skill, taste, creativity.” ~Roger Scruton

(Heads-up: There are some very crass, un-beautiful images in this documentary.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

Fine Arts Study: December 2011

Composer: George Frideric Handel

We spent some time with Handel last December, but we’ve added a few things to our studies this year.


Watching: Handel’s Last Chance

(We recently added this 6 DVD set to our collection. We’ve watched and loved the artists and inventors sets.)


Reading: Handel, Who Knew What He Liked by M. T. Anderson

We are still enjoying all our other books and CDs (at the link above), especially our Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader.


Artist: Norman Rockwell


Reading: Norman Rockwell: Storyteller With a Brush by Beverly Gherman (Have I ever mentioned how much I adore really great picture book biographies? Put this one on the list!)

(We also have a couple great over-sized books of Norman Rockwell illustrations to pour over.)


And the perfect blend of art and poetry for this December:

Norman Rockwell’s Christmas Book--filled with Christmas poetry by Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Hans Christian Andersen, Lewis Carroll, and more. Synchronicity!


Christmas Poetry


Christmas Bells

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

I heard the bells on Christmas Day
Their old, familiar carols play,
    And wild and sweet
    The words repeat
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
    Had rolled along
    The unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Till ringing, singing on its way,
The world revolved from night to day,
    A voice, a chime,
    A chant sublime
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth
The cannon thundered in the South,
    And with the sound
    The carols drowned
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

It was as if an earthquake rent
The hearth-stones of a continent,
    And made forlorn
    The households born
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!

And in despair I bowed my head;
“There is no peace on earth,” I said;
    “For hate is strong,
    And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;
    The Wrong shall fail,
    The Right prevail,
With peace on earth, good-will to men.”

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live and Learn Studio ~ November 2011

greater glory of God

I wish that I had more time (and more brain space and ability) to be able to express my thoughts more completely and more eloquently. This may be a long and disjointed post. (Char, if you’re working tonight, this one’s for you. Grin.)

I’ve been thinking so much this past month on how God’s creation speaks to His nature. How man is made in His image. How He pursues us. And how our purpose is to reflect and glorify Him.

Classical Conversations states that our purpose is ‘To know God and to make Him Known.’

The Circe Institute states that ‘Christian education is the cultivation of wisdom and virtue by nourishing the soul on truth, goodness, and beauty by means of the seven liberal arts and the four sciences so that, in Christ, the student is enabled to better know, glorify, and enjoy God.’ And then, ‘St. Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is the man fully alive.”’

In so many ways, I have discovered that the fullest education (and life) reflects both ORDER and ARTISTRY. That there is beauty in truth. And that when there is a balance and harmony to these two seemingly opposite sides, it can result in great joy and delight.

Charlotte Mason speaks of ‘living books.’ defines living books in this way: ‘Living books are usually written by one person who has a passion for the subject and writes in conversational or narrative style. The books pull you into the subject and involve your emotions, so it’s easy to remember the events and facts. Living books make the subject “come alive.”’

Passion, Pleasure and Delight, and Profound Skill, Knowledge and Wisdom

These are qualities that create amazing learning experiences. The perfect synthesis of order and artistry is manifest in such areas as classical music, but previously I have expected it less in areas such as grammar or math. And then—along came Michael Clay Thompson:

"Why is grammar fun and valuable? Grammar reveals to us the beauty and power of our own minds. With only eight kinds of words and two sides (subject and predicate) of each idea, we can make the plays of Shakespeare, or the novels of Toni Morrison, or the poems of Elizabeth Bishop. No system, so gorgeously elegant, could be expected to make such a language. Through grammar we see the simple form of our binary minds; in all of our sentences, however elaborate, we are making a predicate about a subject, and this reveals the meaning of clarity. For each sentence or idea, I must know both of these two things: what you are talking about, and what you are saying about it. For each paragraph of sentences, I must know what the paragraph is about, and what you are saying about it. For each essay of paragraphs, I must know what the essay is about, and what you are saying about it. A sentence, with its two sides, is a model of the mind.......

Another way to think about why grammar is fun is to ask, what is not fun? The feeling of not fun. The off-center feeling of struggling with one’s own ignorance to accomplish just an ordinary thing is not fun. The private knowledge that you don’t even know which pronoun to use in your own language, this is not fun. The low self-esteem of guessing your way through commas, and spattering words around like a wordy Jackson Pollack, not really controlling where they will land or why, this is not fun. It is not fun to have a peer correct your usage, make your verb plural, shift your wrong pronoun to the object case where it belongs, or gently remind you that your sentence is a fragment."

I don’t know when I’ve read anything with such a passion for both perfect order and astounding artistry as Michael Clay Thompson’s rigorous language arts series for elementary students. His writing screams ‘delight!’

Just when I thought life couldn’t get any better, along came Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D.:  Passion, profound skill and knowledge, CREATIVITY, and sheer joy in a math book. From 5+2 to calculus, statistics, and linear algebra—in narrative form. Yeah, baby. If given a chance, all three boys would read Life of Fred for hours.

I cozied up on the couch to read Life of Fred with the boys (incidentally, both Michael Clay Thompson language arts books and Life of Fred math books are ‘snuggle up on the couch to read and discuss’ sort of books) and opened up the first book. On the dedication page (of each book) Stan writes ‘for Goodness’ sake, or as J.S. Bach—who was never noted for his plain English—often expressed it: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam (to the greater glory of God).’ Delightful math, glorifying God, Bach, Latin. Perfect synchronicity. (Not to mention the boys just watched a wonderful movie about Bach…)

Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
(to the greater glory of God)

Wait, there’s more. After all of this, I read another article by Tucker Teague. (This guy is on a roll.) 
Incarnational’ Homeschooling @ Classical Conversations:

We live in a world created by God. We are creatures of God’s imagination. Our rationality comes from God. The longings of our hearts are put there by God. Both our desires and our capabilities to teach and to be taught originate from God. And yet, God is a mystery. We cannot know God unless He reveals Himself to us, and even then, we will always remain incapable of knowing God in His essence. He is wonderful and good, He is faithful and sovereign, but He is also transcendent and we are not. Still, God has made us to know Him and to enjoy Him. Praise be to God that in poignant and substantial ways He has made Himself known to us. To know and enjoy God is, or should be, our foundation as educators.

And then I came across this TED video:

And this quote:

"He who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed."
~Albert Einstein

With all the thoughts of God’s creation, order and artistry, swirling around in my head, Fibonacci numbers fit right in. The boys read Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci by Joseph D’Agnese.

My book club, ChocLit Guild, read Perelandra by C.S. Lewis this past month. We had an amazing conversation about the fact that we can’t separate knowledge (and education) from God, because all truth is His and all knowledge, and He is reflected in all of creation.

After our Book Detectives meeting was over, the moms had a fabulous discussion about using the story chart with the Bible to see the ‘big picture’ of God’s story, where we stand in time, and our purpose as God’s creation.

Then we started The Handel’s Messiah Family Advent Reader. Order, artistry, passion, goodness, truth, beauty.

I’m telling you, it has been a month of big thoughts. But I need to get back to parenting, so, without further ado, here is our basic educational outline for the month of November:

Classical Conversations
Weeks 9-12 (now halfway through and on a long Christmas break!!): Memory work in science, history, history timeline, geography, math, English grammar, and Latin. Weekly presentations (public speaking), science experiments/projects, fine arts unit studies, and gym/social time.

Bible Memory: 
A New Commandment (CD)
Independent Bible reading:
Levi: The Day by Day Bible
Luke: The Action Bible
Leif: The Jesus Storybook Bible
Telling God's Story
Hymns For a Kid's Heart (Vol. 1, 2)

(Luke and Levi: weekly hymns on piano)
(weekly patriotic hymns/songs)

Teaching Textbooks daily (Leif:3, Luke: 3/4, Levi: 4)
The Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks
Life of Fred elementary series
CC weekly memory work (skip counting)

DK First Human Body Encyclopedia
The Visual Dictionary of the Human Body (Eyewitness)
My Body (human body project @ CC)
What’s Science All About? (biology, chemistry, physics by Usborne) (The boys LOVED this book!!)
CC weekly science memory work (human body)

Swim Team (Levi), Swim Lessons (Luke)
(mini trampoline and outdoor play)

Fine Arts:
CC tin whistle/music theory
Monthly Fine Arts Study (Robert Louis Stevenson, N. C. Wyeth, Edvard Grieg)
Beethoven’s Wig 2
Piano lessons (Luke)
Bach’s Fight for Freedom (DVD)

Language Arts:
IEW Writing (Luke: Primary Arts of Language Writing, Levi: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons)
IEW Poetry Memorization
MCT Grammar and Vocabulary (Town level)
Writing With Ease
Sentence diagramming
CC English grammar memory work
All About Spelling Level 2 (Steps 11-14)
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks
Copy work using custom handwriting worksheets
(I shared more details about our Language Arts line-up at this link.)

I’ve been trying to diagram our history sentences. It is a great challenge for me, and I always learn something new. I got the appositive wrong on this one. The ‘the’ should have be on a slanted line under ‘(Fugitive Slave Act)’ I think.

grammar love

Prima Latina (review: DVD lessons ?-16)
CC Latin memory work 

CC U.S. geography (states, capitals, and more)
Drawing the U.S. (outline) free-hand
Place the State online game

The Story of the World: Early Modern Times (ch. 17-21)
CC weekly history memory work (American history)
DK Eyewitness: Russia
Peter the Great by Diane Stanley
Ten Kings and the Worlds They Ruled by Milton Meltzer (Louis XIV and Peter the Great)
Baboushka and the Three Kings by Ruth Robbins
I-Know-Not-What, I-Know-Not-Where: A Russian Tale adapted by Eric A. Kimmel
The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship: A Russian Tale retold by Arthur Ransome
Baba Yaga and Vasilisa the Brave as told by Marianna Mayer
The Pearl by Nan Richardson (a true Cinderella story, set in 18th-century Russia) (gorgeous picture book!)
The Spider’s Gift: A Ukrainian Christmas Story retold by Eric A. Kimmel
The Sea King’s Daughter: A Russian Legend by Aaron Shepard
The Language of Birds by Rafe Martin
The Khan’s Daughter: A Mongolian Folktale by Laurence Yep
All the Way to Lhasa: A Tale From Tibet by Barbara Helen Berger
Tikki Tikki Tembo and more stories to celebrate Asian heritage (6 stories, Storybook Treasures DVD)
Cowboy on the Steppes by Song Nan Zhang
Duel in the Wilderness by Karin Clafford Farley (George Washington during French and Indian War, Levi-IR)
Struggle for a Continent: The French and Indian Wars, 1689-1763 by Betsy Maestro
Mystery History of a Pirate Galleon by Fred Finney
The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare (Levi and Luke-IR)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (Luke)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (Levi)
DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History
CC Veritas History Timeline Cards (memorizing)
Liberty’s Kids (Netflix streaming), Schoolhouse Rock America, and This is America, Charlie Brown (DVDs)

Literature Study:
Book Detectives
Once Upon a Time: A Story of the Brothers Grimm by Robert Quackenbush
Ever After (DVD)
Just So Stories by Rudyard Kipling (Levi and Luke-IR)
The War of the Worlds (Classic Starts, retold from the H.G. Wells original, Luke-IR
The Time Machine (Classic Starts, retold from the H.G. Wells original, Luke-IR

Other Reading:
Miscellaneous library books
Thanksgiving book collection

Luke’s Free Reading:
Encyclopedia Brown Finds the Clues (and others?) by Donald J. Sobol
Magic By the Lake (and others?) by Edward Eager
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Classic Starts: Greek Myths (retold from the classic originals)
A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time by Mary Pope Osborne
Pilgrims (Magic Tree House Research Guide) by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle’s Magic, and Hello, Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle by Betty MacDonald
and others

Levi’s Free Reading:
Finn Family Moomintroll by Tove Jansson
The Gammage Cup by Carol Kendall
Bully for You, Teddy Roosevelt! by Jean Fritz
Blue Willow by Doris Gatesz
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum
Lots of library books about dragons (bleh) and lots of re-reading of books at home

Friday, December 2, 2011

Book Detectives: Take 3

Alrighty. We're going to take a stab at this one more time. If you want to play along, go read Brave Irene by William Steig, try your hand at the story chart, and come back and read this post when you are finished. Did you come up with the same analysis or something different? I’d love to hear about it. {grin}

It has been a couple weeks since our last Book Detectives meeting, so I’m winging it a little on the review.

Last month we talked about the various types of conflict. This month we wanted to focus in on protagonist and antagonist. Brave Irene was the PERFECT book to illustrate this new concept for the kids. After we read the story, I closely followed the discussion about protagonist and antagonist from Deconstructing Penguins (because I’m original like that). I asked if anyone knew what a protagonist was. We got some good guesses: the good guy, the person telling the story… I told everyone that a protagonist is the person trying to move the action forward, and the antagonist is the person (or thing) holding it back. We talked about some real life examples (again, the ones in Deconstructing Penguins).


We set up our story with the exposition (and I spelled resilient incorrectly).


We used the question ‘What does Irene need or want?’ to identify the conflict. In this book the conflict is an actual physical struggle, with Irene trying to move forward and the wind pushing her back and the snow making it difficult for her to walk. It was easy to see Irene as the protagonist trying to move the action forward (get the dress to the duchess) and the wind and snow pushing the action back.


We talked again about the climax being the first moment we know the conflict will be resolved (even if only in hindsight). It’s the turning point of the story. Irene’s rush down the hill on her box-sled was a terrific way for the author to build up a sense of increasing motion (forward!) and excitement right before reaching the climax of the story: when Irene sees the dress near the palace.


Then we moved on to the denouement. What happens next? Are some loose ends tied up?


And the conclusion. I liked how the story seemed to come full-circle in this book. Irene started out in her cozy home with her mother, who wasn’t feeling well and needed to get a dress to the duchess. (That is an awkward sentence, but I’m tired and my brain isn’t functioning.) She ended up back in her cozy home with a doctor for her mother and treats from the duchess.


The theme is the heart of the story. It is what the clues lead us to discover. It is what the author is really trying to tell us. Picture books often give some obvious clues. This time it was in the title. Bravery. Courage and determination.


The kids wanted to talk about the conflict from the very beginning. Man vs. Nature!! It was a nice change from the
Man vs. Society conflicts in the previous two books. We reminded everyone that Man can be any human, or even animals that are given human traits. We pointed out the personification of the wind in this story, as well.


That about wraps it up. Interesting? Helpful? Or did we get it all wrong? {poor guinea pig children}