Sunday, April 29, 2012

Dabbling in Fairy Tales


“Now the shepherd spent his days…up on the wide ocean-bosom of the Downs, with only the sun and the stars and the sheep for company…But his little son, when he wasn’t helping his father, and often when he was as well, spent much of his time buried in big volumes that he borrowed from the affable gentry and interested parsons of the country round about. And his parents were very fond of him, and rather proud of him too, though they didn’t let on in his hearing, so he was left to go his own way and read as much as he liked; and instead of frequently getting a cuff on the side of the head, as might very well have happened to him, he was treated more or less as an equal by his parents, who sensibly thought it a very fair division of labour that they should supply the practical knowledge, and he the book-learning. They knew that book-learning often came in useful at a pinch, in spite of what their neighbours said. What the Boy chiefly dabbled in was natural history and fairy tales, and he just took them as they came, in a sandwichy sort of way, without making any distinctions; and really his course of reading strikes one as rather sensible.”

~Kenneth Grahame, The Reluctant Dragon

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Mt. Hope Academy @ The Live and Learn Studio ~ April 2012

Leif reading 

Let’s begin and end with Tolkien, shall we? (And a few mentions in between!)

(By the way, I know these posts get really long, but it is so much easier for me to keep track over the course of the month and post once rather than posting weekly! So sorry if they are overwhelming!)

Tolkien, Faeries, and Creation by Andrew Seeley @ CiRCE Institute:

The power of abstraction frees the imagination to make new combinations, and awakens a natural desire to imagine how the world might be, and to attempt to bring our imaginings to reality.   Of course, all story-making involves imagining new characters, new situations, (or as Aristotle would say of drama, the possible rather than the actual of history), which develop what might lie within the world that has been created by the Creator of all, and are bounded by the natures that He has made.  But this world is only one of an infinite realm of possible worlds that He might have made.  Fantasy allows the imagination to enter the extra-natural realm of possibilities, to develop new kinds of beings, new kinds of worlds.

One of my book clubs read A Vindication of the Rights of Woman by Mary Wollstonecraft this month. I didn’t make it all the way through (I wonder what Mary would think of the current education of women, considering I had a very difficult time concentrating on her text!), but the discussion was fantastic. I am so thankful for a community of friends who value intelligent, thoughtful, uplifting, challenging conversation!!

Consequently, the most perfect education, in my opinion, is such an exercise of the understanding as is best calculated to strengthen the body and form the heart; or, in other words, to enable the individual to attain such habits of virtue as will render it independent.

Why Mortimer Adler Would Have Been the Best Academic Dean Ever by Robert M. Woods @ The Imaginative Conservative:

‎Specifically addressing the matter of Liberal arts and her growing disrepute, again quoting Hutchins, "the liberal arts are not merely indispensable; they are unavoidable. Nobody can decide for himself whether he is going to be a human being. The only question open to him is whether he will be an ignorant, undeveloped one, or one who has sought to reach the highest point he is capable of attaining. The question, in short, is whether he will be a poor liberal artist or a good one."

Speaking of Mortimer Adler, please don’t miss Labor, Leisure, and Liberal Education (also @ The Imaginative Conservative):

It is clear, I think, that liberal education is absolutely necessary for human happiness, for living a good human life. The most prevalent of all human ills are these two: a man's discontent with the work he does and the necessity of having to kill time. Both these ills can be, in part, cured by liberal education. Liberal schooling prepares for a life of learning and for the leisure activities of a whole lifetime. Adult liberal education is an indispensable part of the life of leisure, which is a life of learning.

More from Andrew Kern @ CiRCE Institute:  Inspiring Children. Oh, how he speaks to the heart and soul of education! There is so much more goodness in the comments. Don’t miss them! My favorite is the comment wherein Kern identifies the four super power tools of the teacher: Stories, Analogies, Names, and Questions.

In other words, we are artists by nature and the main thing we do as artists is name things. So when we are teaching children, we are always teaching them how to name things.

But you can only rightly name something that you accept into your soul and you will only accept something into your soul if you approve of it.

And that takes us full circle back to the original question. How do we get our children to approve of what we want them to accept into their soul.

Here’s the magic truth: children/humans love to know things personally. Let them know the puppy before they have to remember its name. Or at least get the name of the puppy as close to the truth of the puppy as possible.

Puppies are truths.
Names are ways we remember and order them.

Educating Men With Chests: Climbing Parnassus @ Classical Conversations:

*What is paideia? Liberal education seeks virtuous values: It bequeathes paideia, the word the Greeks used for education. “Paideia was about instilling core values, enunciating standards, and setting moral precepts” the object of which was to “educate autonomous men and women: citizens, not robots” (pp. 40-41). Paideia encourages the love of the true, the good, and the beautiful. It produces men who, unlike C.S. Lewis’ ‘men without chests,’ are fully human, having achieved a temper of mind that both “forms and informs” and that “makes for breadth, tolerance, equilibrium, and sanity” (p. 243).

I’m looking forward to the free parent practicum through Classical Conversations. The theme for this year is the study of Latin and the inspiration is Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin by Tracy Lee Simmons. I’ve added it to my towering (and toppling) to-be-read stack. Our local (free!) 3 day practicum is scheduled for June 25-27th.


Is Anything Really Right or Wrong? by Peter Kreeft from Veritas [3] on Vimeo. I have Kreeft’s The Philosophy of Tolkien also on my toppling book stack.

On a more practical note, Preschoolers’ Reading Skills Benefit from One Modest Change by Teachers @ Science Daily:

That small change involves making specific references to print in books while reading to children -- such as pointing out letters and words on the pages, showing capital letters, and showing how you read from left to right and top to bottom on the page.

Preschool children whose teachers used print references during storybook reading showed more advanced reading skills one and even two years later when compared to children whose teachers did not use such references. This is the first study to show causal links between referencing print and later literacy achievement.

And for my records (since this seems to be the best way for me to keep track of links and articles),
Young- and Old-Earth Creationists: Can We Even Talk Together? by John Holzmann @ Sonlight (excellent, grace-filled essay)


Classical Conversations (Cycle 3) Weeks 23-24 ~ FINISHED! (One morning each week; includes social time and public speaking.)


CC Memorizing John 1:1-7 (in Latin and English)
The Children’s Illustrated Bible (reading together)
Telling God's Story
Buck Denver Asks… What’s in the Bible? In the Beginning and Let My People Go (DVDs)
(Luke: weekly hymns on piano)

Teaching Textbooks
The Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks
Life of Fred (elementary series)
Khan Academy videos and practice
Math-Whizz (online math) 
IXL (online math)
CC weekly memory work (skip counting/formulas/laws)

Christian Kids Explore Chemistry (Read lessons 20-22 with oral review)  
CC weekly science memory work (science theories)
CC weekly science projects and experiments (probability lab)
Were Early Computers Really the Size of a School Bus? and other Questions about Inventions by Deborah Kops
Can Rats Swim from Sewers into Toilets? and other Questions about your Home by Alison Behnke
Pasteur’s Fight Against Microbes by Birch and Birmingham

Swim Team practices (Levi and Luke!)

Fine Arts:
CC weekly famous composers and instruments of the orchestra
Monthly Fine Arts Study
Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: Salvador Dali by Mike Venezia
The Mad, Mad, Mad World of Salvador Dali by Prestel
Salvador Dali and the Surrealists: Their Lives and Ideas by Michael Elsohn Ross
Copland (CD)
Ballet for Martha: Making Appalachian Spring by Greenberg and Jordan (I shared more about this picture book here!)
Appalachian Spring orignial ballet on YouTube!
Rossini’s Ghost (DVD movie, Italy-1862)
The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes (illustrated by Brian Pinkney)
Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel & Arnold Rampersad
Piano lessons and practice (Luke)

Language Arts:
IEW Writing (Levi: Fables, Myths, and Fairy Tales Writing Lessons)
MCT Caesar’s English (vocabulary)
MCT Practice Town (4 level sentence analysis + diagramming)
Writing With Ease (Luke and Levi)
CC grammar memory work
All About Spelling Level 3 (steps 5-8) (Leif: Level 1, steps 8-11)
Handwriting Without Tears workbook (cursive-Levi)

"Language is the expression of thought and feeling. Grammar is the science of language." ~ S. W. Clark

Latina Christiana I (lesson 2-3)


La Clase Divertida (DVD lesson 1 )

CC U.S. geography (states, capitals, mountains, rivers, lakes, features, and more)
Geography games (capitals, states, landscapes)
Place the State online game
Map drawing and 'blobbing' continents (CC)

History/Literature/Historical Fiction:
The Story of the World: The Modern Age (chapters 4-6)
CC weekly history memory work (American history)
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (select pages, Luke)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (select pages, Levi)
DK Children's Encyclopedia of American History (select pages)
The Man Without a Country by Edward Everett Hale (Levi-IR)
A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos (historical fiction, 144 pp, Levi-IR)
Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus (historical fiction, Japan-1841, 282 pp, Levi-IR)
David Livingstone: Courageous Explorer by Renee Taft Meloche
The Bears’ Famous Invasion of Sicily by Dino Buzzati (143 pp, Levi-IR)
This is Venice by M. Sasek
Shanghaied to China by Dave and Neta Jackson (historical fiction, Hudson Taylor, China-1853, 140 pp, Levi-IR)
Children of the Covered Wagon by Mary Jane Carr (historical fiction, 265 pp, Levi-IR)
The Josefina Story Quilt by Eleanor Coerr
Daily Life on a Southern Plantation, 1853 by Paul Erickson
Magic Tree House Fact Tracker: Abraham Lincoln by Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce
Welcome to Addy’s World * 1864: Growing Up During America’s Civil War (fabulous visual non-fiction!)
Addy Story Collection by Connie Porter (historical fiction, 369 pp, Levi-IR)
Clara Barton: I Want to Help! by Cathy East Dubowski
Clara Barton: Spirit of the American Red Cross by Patricia Lakin
The U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction, 1850-1877 by Brian Howell
The Story of the Monitor and the Merrimac by R. Conrad Stein
If You Lived When There Was Slavery in America by Anne Kamma
If You Grew Up with Abraham Lincoln by Ann McGovern
Abraham Lincoln’s World byh Genevieve Foster (342 pp, Levi-IR)
Lincoln: A Photobiography by Russell Freedman (Levi-IR)
Abe Lincoln Goes to Washington, 1837-1865 by Cheryl Harness
Abe Lincoln’s Hat by Martha Brenner
Abe Lincoln: The boy who loved books by Kay Winters
Abraham Lincoln: Lawyer, Leader, Legend by Justine and Ron Fontes
Abraham Lincoln by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz
Journey to Freedom: The Emancipation Proclamation by Charles W. Carey, Jr.
Escape North! The Story of Harriet Tubman by Monica Kulling
Almost to Freedom by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
The Drinking Gourd: A Story of the Underground Railroad by F.N. Monjo
Working Cotton by Sherley Anne Williams
Frederick Douglass: Portrait of a Freedom Fighter by Sheila Keenan
Frederick Douglass Fights for Freedom by Margaret Davidson
Frederick Douglass: The Last Day of Slavery by William Miller
Amistad: The Story of a Slave Ship by Patricia C. McKissack
From Slave to Soldier (Based on a True Civil War Story) by Deborah Hopkinson
The Perilous Road by William O. Steele (historical fiction, Civil War, 156 pp, Levi-IR)
The Story of Harriet Tubman, Conductor of the Underground Railroad by Kate McMullan (108 pp, Levi-IR)
Harriet Tubman (In Their Own Words) by George Sullivan
Listen for the Whippoorwill (Harriet Tubman) by Dave & Neta Jackson (historical fiction, 144 pp, Levi-IR)
My Brother’s Keeper: Virginia’s Civil War Diary by Mary Pope Osborne (historical fiction, 107 pp, Levi-IR)
Harriet Beecher Stowe and the Beecher Preachers by Jean Fritz
With Lee in Virginia by G.A. Henty (historical fiction, 328 pp, Levi-IR)
Robert E. Lee: Duty and Honor
A Weed is a Flower: The Life of George Washington Carver by Aliki
Buffalo Bill and the Pony Express by Eleanor Coerr
Dear Levi: Letters From the Overland Trail by Elvira Woodruff (historical fiction, 1851, 119 pp, Levi-IR)
Journey of a Pioneer by Patricia J. Murphy
Tatanka-Iyotanka: A Biography of Sitting Bull by Crummett
The Diary of Angeline Reddy: Behind the Masks—Bodie, California, 1880 by Susan Patron (historical fict., 290 pp, Levi-IR)
Kate Shelley: Bound for Legend by Robert D. San Souci (non-fiction picture book, storm/train/heroine in Iowa-1881)
John Blair and the Great Hinckley Fire by Josephine Nobisso (non-fiction picture book, fire/train/hero in Minnesota-1894)
Maata’s Journal by Paul Sullivan (fiction, Arctic tundra/Canada, 221 pp, Levi-IR)
Black Star, Bright Dawn by Scott O’Dell (fiction, Alaska, 103 pp, Levi-IR)
George Muller: The Guardian of Bristol’s Orphans by Janet & Geoff Benge (missionary in 1800s, 203 pp, Levi-IR)

Literature Study:
Book Detectives (100 Dresses by Eleanor Estes)
Pinocchio by Carlo Collodi (wonderful read-aloud!)
The Yearling by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings (Levi-IR)
Many Moons by James Thurber
The Great Quillow by James Thurber
The 13 Clocks by James Thurber
The Wonderful O by James Thurber
Mr. Bliss by J.R.R. Tolkien (delightful and hilarious picture book with color illustrations by Tolkien!)
Tales from the Perilous Realm by J.R.R. Tolkien (five short stories, 312 pp, Levi-IR)
Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne (audio CD)
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne (audio CD)
The Tales of Beatrix Potter (read-aloud, the best of the best!)
Beatrix Potter’s Nursery Rhyme Book
The Beatrix Potter Collection (DVD, excellent!)
Tales of Beatrix Potter Starring the Royal Ballet (DVD, fabulous!)
Miss Potter (DVD, lovely biographical movie!)
Beatrix by Jeanette Winter
My Dear Noel: The Story of a Letter from Beatrix Potter by Jane Johnson
The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter (Dorling Kindersly, phenomenal!)
Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Germany retold by Virginia Haviland
Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Spain retold by Virginia Haviland (illustrated by Barbara Cooney—my fav!)
Favorite Fairy Tales Told in Sweden retold by Virginia Haviland

Levi’s Free Reading:
A Big Day for Cepters by Stephen Krensky
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery & a Very Strange Adventure by Lissa Evans
Oddfellow’s Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin

Luke’s Free Reading:
The Great Turkey Walk by Kathleen Karr
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O’Brien
Mr. and Mrs. Bunny—Detectives Extraordinaire by Polly Horvath
Oddfellow’s Orphanage by Emily Winfield Martin
Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms: Magic, Mystery & a Very Strange Adventure by Lissa Evans

Leif’s Free Reading:
This kid is hard to pin down. And there is obviously no need to do so. (grin) He reads whatever is handy. His favorites are Magic Tree House books and the Life of Fred elementary math books (which he reads all. the. time.). He has also been enjoying Shel Silverstein’s poetry books.

Miscellaneous lovely picture books the boys have enjoyed this month:
If You Lived Here: Houses of the World by Giles Laroche
We the Kids: The Preamble to the Constitution of the United States illustrated by David Catrow
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Mealer (Malawi, Africa)
Born and Bred in the Great Depression by Jonah Winter & Kimberly Bulcken Root
Just Ducks by Nicola Davies
The Camping Trip That Changed America: Theodore Roosevelt, John Muir, and our National Parks by Barb Rosenstock
Marching With Aunt Susan: Susan B. Anthony and the Fight for Women’s Suffrage by Claire Rudolf Murphy
The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan (historical fiction, Kansas Dust Bowl –1937, graphic novel)
Winterberries and Apple Blossoms: Reflections and Flavors of a Mennonite Year by Nan Forler
The Serpent Came to Gloucester by M.T. Anderson
Me, All Alone, at the End of the World by M.T. Anderson
French Ducks in Venice by Garret Freymann-Weyr
The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup by Rosemary Sutcliff


"Faerie is a perilous land, and in it are pitfalls for the unwary and dungeons for the over-bold... All manner of beasts and birds are found there; shoreless seas and stars uncounted; beauty that is an enchantment, and an ever-present peril; both joy and sorrow as sharp as swords. In that realm a man may, perhaps, count himself fortunate to have wandered, but its very richness and strangeness tie the tongue of a traveller who would report them. And while he is there it is dangerous for him to ask too many questions, lest the gates should be shut and the keys be lost."
~J.R.R. Tolkien, On Fairy-Stories

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Laughing Out Loud

I don’t know when I’ve laughed out loud so often reading a book as I have with A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain. (Maybe Down the Garden Path, Our Hearts Were Young and Gay, or Cheaper By the Dozen?) There are so many hilarious selections, but this one slayed (slew?) me. The Connecticut Yankee has traveled back in time to the day of King Arthur, and he is incongruous with the setting in every way. At this point in the book, he is riding on a quest with a damsel in distress. This non-stop-talking damsel, Sandy, has just uttered a 297 word sentence full of flowery language in which no point is apparent. And Hank writes:

“I was gradually coming to have a mysterious and shuddery reverence for this girl; nowadays whenever she pulled out from the station and got her train fairly started on one of those horizonless transcontinental sentences of hers, it was borne in upon me that I was standing in the awful presence of the Mother of the German Language. I was so impressed with this, that sometimes when she began to empty one of these sentences on me I unconsciously took the very attitude of reverence, and stood uncovered; and if words had been water, I had been drowned, sure. She had exactly the German way; whatever was in her mind to be delivered, whether a mere remark, or a sermon, or a cyclopedia, or the history of a war, she would get it into a single sentence or die. Whenever the literary German dives into a sentences, that is the last you are going to see of him till he emerges on the other side of his Atlantic with his verb in his mouth.”

Mark Twain is a master.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sentence Diagramming Challenge

My friend, Hannah @ Here in the Lovely Woods, and I have been challenging each other with sentences to diagram. Now, we may be the only crazy people out there, but we think sentence diagramming is as fun, as brain-stretching, and even as relaxing as solitaire or Sudoku or crosswords or jigsaw puzzles.

I picked a doozy this week. It was a fairly random sentence from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court by Mark Twain, which I happened to have handy. I’ve given it a good go, but I wondered if anyone else would like in on the challenge. You can write out your diagram and send me a picture ( It would be particularly helpful if an expert wanted to join us. You know, so we could actually figure out what we did incorrectly… If anyone is willing to have their diagram pictures posted, I think it would be awfully fun to do that, too. I’ll post mine!

Are you up for it?!! Here is the sentence:

"I was in a dismal state by this time; indeed, I was hardly enough in my right mind to keep the run of a dispute that sprung up as to how I had better be killed, the possibility of the killing being doubted by some, because of the enchantment in my clothes."

Go for it, and let me know how it went!


Okay, here is my attempt. I wasn’t sure how to diagram ‘because of’ so I guessed phrasal subordinate conjunction and then added an understood predicate for a clause. (Yeah, that’s probably stretching it… Ha!) Hannah pointed out that ‘because of’ is a phrasal preposition, so I added that alternate diagram. And I couldn’t decide whether to diagram ‘indeed’ as an interjection or an adverb. I’m sure there are a few other ‘iffy’ spots on this diagram. (Oh, and I left off ‘a’ from ‘dispute!’)


Kellie from Blue House Academy played along! It was a TOUGH sentence. Maybe hers is correct! Doesn’t it look lovely?!

Kellie's Diagram

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

40th Birthday Bash

(In an effort to get all my photos posted, I’m going to give you the abridged but visually unedited (bowling alley lighting and 80s clothing-ugh!!) version of life.)

We had a surprise birthday party for my sister, Holly’s, 40th birthday. (Back in March, but who’s keeping track…) Since we had a 70s birthday bash for her husband, Casey, we thought we’d go for the 80s for Holly. The boys had never been bowling before, and it was a smashing hit.

Shannon even brought Holly a (HUGE) prom dress to slip over her regular clothes so she could get into the spirit of things. And a balloon arch made the pictures complete.












Monday, April 23, 2012


A gorgeous family. A gorgeous location. And gorgeous weather. LOVELY.


Do you remember this maternity photo session? Well, here they are with their four beautiful girls!


Here is the newest member of the family:


I think dad has his hands full.


But I’m pretty sure he can handle it.








I’ve only just begun to play around with the hundreds of pictures I took. I’m sure you’ll see more before I’m finished!

Sweet 16!


It can’t be. But ‘tis true. My niece Ilex is sixteen. And she is fabulous. Just completely lovely and kind and intelligent and a joy to be around. She is more like a 25 year old than a 16 year old. And really, really tall. I’ve lost my status as the tallest girl in the family.

(Can you believe this was my first photo session with her four and a half years ago?! I can’t wait to take her senior pictures!!)

She had a lovely birthday celebration a week ago.

(I’m behind on all my pictures. Waaaay behind. And now they’ll be all out of order. But I’m determined to get more posted!!)





More Easter Cheer



Someone doesn’t like the feel of grass on her toes….








She loves playing up the serious angle for the camera….

Lola film

Sunday, April 22, 2012