Thursday, May 31, 2012

Our Chat Session With Susan Wise Bauer


I am so thankful that Stephanie at Keeper of the Home recorded a bunch of our conversation with Susan. I think you will all enjoy it (and maybe be a little surprised!). Head on over to these links:

Part 1

Part 2


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Feeling a Little Like This Today

Shoreline of Wonder

(And now I’m in the mood to visit the coast again!)

Oh, yes. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Hugh Jackman. Russell Crowe. You’ve got to be kidding me.

Luke is 8!

Luke 8 Collage rs

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Baby Cora (and mom and dad, too)

I can’t believe the weather cooperated for my second family photo session! That is a major miracle here in the cold, soggy spring of the Willamette Valley, Oregon. And another little doll-baby! Here is a sneak peek of this beautiful new family:


Sunday, May 20, 2012

A Letter to My Readers

Okay, it is Emily’s letter to her readers at Chatting at the Sky, but I wanted to share the link with you because it is so beautiful and true.

Dear Blog Reader Who Has Never Commented

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Sentence Diagramming Challenge ~ Take Two, The Results Show

Did any of you give the sentence diagramming challenge a try? I tried to make them easier, but I had a tough time with ‘came thundering’ on sentence #2. Is that a verb phrase? Is ‘thundering’ a modifier? I bet I diagrammed it incorrectly. And I found mistakes on sentence #3 after I diagrammed it, so this is my second try.

Sentence #1: “The view from that point was a magnificent one.”

Sentence #2: “St. George lowered his spear, bent his head, dug his heels into his horse’s sides, and came thundering over the turf.”

Sentence #3: I’m going into Society, I am, through the kindly aid of our friend here, who’s taking such a lot of trouble on my account; and you’ll find I’ve got all the qualities to endear me to people who entertain!”


ETA: I’ve tried to get an expert opinion on sentence #2, but the jury is still out. I don’t think ‘thundering over the turf’ can be an adverbial participial phrase, so the other two options are ‘came thundering’ as a verb phrase (can ‘came’ be a helping verb?) or ‘thundering over the turf’ as an adjectival participial phrase modifying ‘St. George,’ but that just seems wrong with the compound predicate. Care to vote one way or another?


Here is Hannah’s diagram for #3. I think we were in agreement:

Hannah's diagram

Are there any expert diagrammers out there who would like to shed some light on the subject? Did we do something incorrectly?

Mt. Hope Academy ~ Lesson Plans and Resources 2012-13


“Only the curious will learn and only the resolute will overcome the obstacles to learning. The quest quotient has always excited me more than the intelligence quotient.”

~Edmund S. Wilson (1895-1972) U.S. author, literary and social critic

I like that. The Quest Quotient.

Why homeschool? Because learning is a constant and essential component of a deep, rich life in God’s huge and fascinating world. Homeschooling is the best way for us to embrace that.

(I posted a much longer ‘why homeschool’ post at this link.)

I think I have most of our plans and resources lined up for this next school year. It looks like a lot on paper, but we are much more relaxed in practice. It amazes me how far we have already come on this educational journey!



LEVI ~ 5th grade
LUKE ~ 3nd grade
LEIF ~ 1st grade
LOLA ~ preschool
(okay, toddlerhood and general entertainment/distraction/chaos)

Classical Conversations (Cycle 1) Foundations: One morning each week for 24 weeks; includes social time and public speaking. Essentials: (Levi) One afternoon each week for 24 weeks; includes grammar, vocabulary, writing, public speaking, and challenging math games. Essentials: language arts and challenging math games (Levi).

This will be our 3rd year with our Classical Conversations community. It has been a tremendous blessing in our lives. I am amazed that we will have learned all 3 cycles of memory work at the end of this next year! (I shared about the value we’ve found in the memory work in this post.) Levi will be participating in the afternoon Essentials class for the first time this year while the other boys go to a play class.


CC Memorize Exodus 20 (10 Commandments)
God Our Provider (CD) (Bible memory songs)
Independent Bible reading
The Children’s Illustrated Bible (read through together, again) 
Victor Journey Through the Bible (supplemental context information)
Telling God's Story- Year 2 (Life of Jesus, one lesson weekly)
Buck Denver Asks…What’s In the Bible? (DVD series)
Hymns For a Kid's Heart (Vol. 1, 2)
(one lesson weekly)
(Luke and Levi: weekly hymns on piano)
(Christmas: The Handel's Messiah Family Advent Reader and The Jesse Tree by Geraldine McCaughrean) 

Teaching Textbooks (Leif: finish 3, Luke: finish 4, Levi: 5/6)
The Critical Thinking Co. math workbooks (for supplemental fun)
Life of Fred ((LOVE!!) All boys: Elementary series, Levi: Fractions and Decimals & Percents. They all enjoy Life of Fred for free reading!!)
Beast Academy (Luke: level 3. We’re going to try out this new program from Art of Problem Solving. I think Luke will do really well with it!)
Khan Academy (free online tutorial videos)
Exploring the World of Mathematics by John Hudson Tiner
Mathematicians Are People, Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer
Why Pi? by Johnny Ball
[and other history-integrated math studies, including The Story of Science by Joy Hakim]
Various computer/online games
(I shared a little more about our math approach at this link.)
CC weekly memory work (skip counting/measurements/formulas/laws)
Challenging math games in Classical Conversations Essentials (Levi)

Christian Kids Explore Physics (finish)
Exploring the World of Physics by John Hudson Tiner
Eureka Physics (online videos)
Bill Nye and Eyewitness DVDs
Khan Academy (free online tutorial videos)
CC weekly science memory work (biology and earth science)
CC weekly science projects and experiments
Christian Kids Explore Biology
Real Science 4 Kids Biology 
Exploring the World of Biology by John Hudson Tiner
Keeping a Nature Journal by Clare Walker Lesie & Charles E. Roth
The Kingfisher Science Encyclopedia
What’s Science All About? (Usborne) (covers Chemistry, Physics, and Biology)
The Story of Science series by Joy Hakim (history-integrated science studies)
Science in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Islamic Cultures, China, and Mesopotamia (series) (history-integrated studies)
Supplemental books and DVDs

Swim Team (3x week, plus swim meets and family swim nights)
(mini trampoline, bike riding, and outdoor play)

Fine Arts:
CC drawing, tin whistle/music theory, fine art/art projects, composers/instruments of the orchestra
The Story of Classical Music (CD)
Beethoven’s Wig (CD series)
Classical Kids (CD series)
13 Art Inventions Children Should Know (and others in the series by Prestel, one book each month)
Draw and Write Through History: Greece and Rome
Cave Paintings to Picasso (history-integrated art studies)
Piano practice

Language Arts:
Classical Conversations Essentials of the English Language (grammar, IEW writing (theme-based: Ancients), vocabulary)
IEW Poetry Memorization
MCT Poetry, Grammar, Writing, Vocabulary (continue and review Town level)
Writing With Ease (Leif: level 1, Luke: level 3, Levi: level 4 and Writing With Skill level 1)  
CC grammar memory work (lists of prepositions, helping verbs, and linking verbs)
All About Spelling (Levi and Luke: level 4 and 5?, Leif: level 2) 
Handwriting Without Tears workbooks
Copy work using custom handwriting worksheets
(I shared more details about our Language Arts line-up at this link.)
Typing (Levi)

Latina Christiana I (continue)
(First Form Latin if/when finished with LC1)
CC Latin memory work (declensions)

La Clase Divertida (finish)
El Espanol Facil Jr. (with Spanish-speaking Grandpa!) (probably won’t start until January)

The Complete Book of Maps and Geography (workbook)
CC geography (extensive world geography and map drawing)
Geography games (free online)  
Geography games and puzzles 
(review CC cycles 2 and 3 geography)
(history related maps)

The Story of the World: The Modern Age (finish) (with Activity Guide)
The Story of the World: Ancient Times (with Activity Guide)
Begin creating our own history timeline (Add-a-Century Timeline) integrating all subjects
CC weekly history memory work (Ancients and world civilizations) 
The Usborne Encyclopedia of World History (Luke)
The Kingfisher History Encyclopedia (Levi)
CC Veritas History Timeline Cards and new CC Timeline Cards (memorize) 
Many supplemental books and DVDs

Literature Study (Ancients, using lists from The Well-Trained Mind) including:
Stories of Ancient Egypt
The Iliad and The Odyssey (Homer)
The Aeneid (Virgil)
Greek Mythology
Roman Mythology

Great children’s classics
Book Detectives (Parent-child monthly book club focusing on literature analysis via Socratic dialogue a la Deconstructing Penguins and Teaching the Classics)
Lots of free reading and library visits

Review CC memory work from cycles 2 and 3 

Monday, May 14, 2012

Happy, Progressive, and Occupied


We took ‘school’ outside on this gorgeous Monday in May, soaking up the sunshine and reading history, science, and Bible. We finished off with a liberal dose of The Wind in the Willows while the boys took to the tire swing under our very own willow tree.

It all seemed too good to be true. Hither and thither through the meadows he rambled busily, along the hedgerows, across the copses, finding everywhere birds building, flowers budding, leaves thrusting—everything happy, and progressive, and occupied. And instead of having an uneasy conscience pricking him and whispering “Whitewash!” he somehow could only feel how jolly it was to be the only idle dog among all these busy citizens. After all, the best part of a holiday is perhaps not so much to be resting yourself, as to see all the other fellows busy working.

Inspiration for the Christian Classical Educator


For my Oregon friends, Veritas, a Christian Classical school in Newberg, is offering a teaching conference August 2-3 on the campus of George Fox University. My sister and I attended last year and were informed, inspired, and encouraged in our teaching (and learning!) journey. From their website:

Are you a teacher or parent, whether with a classical Christian school, private Christian school, or in a homeschool setting? Then join the teachers, staff, and board of Veritas School for a two-day conference that will ground you in a mission-oriented philosophy of classical Christian education, as well as provide practical help for teaching and day-to-day school operations. The conference features fewer subjects but allows for more in-depth sessions.

We will be changing the format slightly to allow for more in-depth discussions, opportunities to ask questions, and to talk about practical applications. We will have topics in three tracks: general, grammar, logic/rhetoric.

Another addition this year will be an option to participate in discussions of the core epics--The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aeneid, and Paradise Lost, led by Veritas Humane Letters teachers. These will be opportunities to actually discuss the themes of the works, while secondarily addressing how to teach them.

I’m particularly excited as my boys and I head back to ancient history in the fall and will be reading re-tellings of Homer and Virgil. I have no experience with ancient literature. I will take all the help I can get!

If you are interested in attending, you can register online at this link. There is a reduced cost for early registrations (by June 1st). Holly and I will be attending, and we’d love to see you there!

I can tell you that I would be sorely tempted to send my boys to Veritas School if we lived less than an hour away…



We are also beginning the season for the Classical Conversations free 3-day parent practicums held all over the country. This year’s theme is Latin, and the inspiration comes from Tracy Lee Simmons’ book Climbing Parnassus: A New Apologia for Greek and Latin.

You can find dates and locations at this link.

The Albany practicum will be held June 25-27. Let me know if anyone is interested in more information.

Tucker Teague will be facilitating the practicum in Springfield/Eugene on June 18-20. I am so disappointed that I won’t be able to sit in on that one! You can read Tucker’s latest article, Climbing a Different Mountain, at Classical Conversations. As always, he has excellent thoughts on the subject of Christian Classical education!

One thing I have learned from climbing mountains is that the route is critical. The summit is a long way off when one is at the bottom of a mountain, and the journey will, no doubt, be difficult and tiring. It is best to have a clear idea of how one is to proceed, what path one will follow, and to be prepared for the dangers that will inevitably appear. What I want to propose is that Christian, classical homeschooling is not merely a different path up the same mountain that everyone else is climbing. It is, in fact, the climbing of a different mountain altogether.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Infinite Joys



“I desire to be a mother—if only to give food to the craving activity of my soul…Maternity is an enterprise in which I have opened an enormous stake…Motherhood will develop my energy, enlarge my heart, and compensate me for all things by infinite joys!”

~Honore de Balzac, Memoirs of Two Young Married Women—1894

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Just for Justin

Justin wanted to know where the Sunday afternoon target practice photos were, so here they are.







Friday, May 11, 2012

Sentence Diagramming Challenge ~ Take 2


Hannah and I have a new sentence diagramming challenge we are working on. Care to join us? Think of it as my Mother’s Day gift to all of you (who happen to be mothers…). I know, I know. How did I know that was just what you always wanted?!

I’ll even give you three sentences from which to choose to choose from, because I’m generous like that. They all come from The Reluctant Dragon by Kenneth Grahame.

Feel free to play along at home. Even if you are just giving it your best shot. It isn’t against the rules (wait, there are no rules!) to check out diagramming instructions in a book or online (like here). That’s how we learn stuff. {grin} If you are willing to share, send me a picture of your diagram and let me know if I can post it. I’ll post mine (which may or likely may not be entirely correct) on Tuesday to give everyone a chance to try it first.

Sentence #1: “The view from that point was a magnificent one.”

Sentence #2: “St. George lowered his spear, bent his head, dug his heels into his horse’s sides, and came thundering over the turf.”

Sentence #3: I’m going into Society, I am, through the kindly aid of our friend here, who’s taking such a lot of trouble on my account; and you’ll find I’ve got all the qualities to endear me to people who entertain!”

ETA: Pictures and results at this link.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Doing It All


As I’m cleaning my house today (I’m using that phrase lightly) getting ready for book club this evening, my mind is racing. One theme of my thoughts is "What does having it all look like?” Or, more specifically, “What constitutes doing it all?”

We spend so much time as mothers, and particularly as homeschooling mothers, comparing ourselves to others. And often finding ourselves ‘falling short’ according to what we perceive others as having or doing or being or accomplishing.

So I’m curious. What would you list as the things someone would have to do to do it all? And do you know anyone who (from the outside) seems to accomplish all those things?

If there is one thing that I took away from this past weekend, it is that we are all human. No one has or does it all. Everyone has fears and insecurities. We all sacrifice something for our priorities. And whether or not we think we have it all together, we never have complete control over our lives or the people in them.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Peace Hill Press Weekend ~ Day 4


We had said our goodbyes to Jessica, who had left us after dinner the night before to spend time with her sister and family. We had also said goodbye to Stephanie, who left before the crack of dawn Sunday morning.

It was a quiet, relaxing morning. Breakfast was fried apples, corned beef hash with fried eggs, and biscuits (Susan’s grandmother’s recipe, I think).

We said goodbye to Mandi. Tsh, Sarah, and I headed to church. The service was wonderful. Intimate, comfortable, and beautiful. Susan led worship. Peter preached. We took communion. Everyone ate a potluck lunch together. We talked. And talked. We stopped by Justin and Mel’s house for some target practice. (Really.) We stopped by Sarah and Charlie’s house, and I took a few headshots of Sarah. (Is she not beautiful?!) And then we said more goodbyes. (Sniff.)


I had just a few minutes to pack my things at the Bed and Breakfast and say goodbye to Mike and Tanya. Then Tsh drove me to the airport in Richmond.

My flight was delayed 15 minutes..then 30. So I grabbed a bite to eat. And then they announced that the 6:20 pm flight wouldn’t leave until 10 pm due to storms in Chicago. What?! Then they changed the departure time to 7:55, which was much better, but I knew I only had an hour layover in Chicago. The guy at the desk said that lots of flights were being delayed in Chicago due to the lightning, so I should just wait and see.

We boarded the flight. They made us check our larger carry-ons. Again. And for some reason they had to refuel after we were on board (why did they not think of that sooner, as the plane had been sitting there for hours?!). I had four young, flirtatious, drunk, swearing guys sitting directly behind me. (Boys, I’m probably old enough to be your mother.) (On a positive note, the older gentleman sitting next to me was apparently annoyed and moved to another open seat so I had room to spread out. And the young guys were silent once the flight was underway.)


We arrived in Chicago. Our luggage was supposed to be brought to the jet bridge where all the passengers gathered, waiting. And waiting. And then the lightning arrived. So the ground crew had to abandon our bags. Yep. And they told us it would be a half hour. But that we couldn’t stay on the jet bridge during the lightning. But we couldn’t go past the boarding gate agent or we couldn’t get back on the jet bridge to collect our luggage. So we all stood near the window between the jet bridge entrance and the boarding gate watching the lightning. And we waited. And stressed about our connecting flights. The gate agent told me that my flight had been delayed until 10 pm. It was after 9:30. They let us back on to the jet bridge where we continued waiting.

Finally, luggage in hand, I ran for my connecting flight. I arrived at the gate at 9:59. No one was there. I thought I had missed it until I looked at the monitor. Gate change. Flight now boarding. So I ran again. And then I was on the plane and breathing a sigh of relief. It took us forever to work our way through the rush-hour traffic of all the delayed flights taking off. I was watching the constant lightning in the distance.

The rest of the flight went smoothly. My mom was so kind to stay with the kids at our house so that Russ could pick me up at the airport around 2 am. I fell into bed at 3:30ish after being up for 23 hours.

And that was the end of my weekend adventure.

Peace Hill Press Weekend ~ Day 3


After a night of spectacular thunder and lightning, we had an early breakfast. The French toast with orange butter sauce was scrumptious!! Sarah had just received the first copies of her new poetry book, so we celebrated with her and she autographed copies for each of us. (More about her book later!)

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0195ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0200ps

We drove down the road to the Bauer farm.


Susan greeted us and invited us inside. We made ourselves at home and spent quite a bit of time asking all our burning questions about life, homeschooling, business, and writing. Her husband, Peter, joined us for part of the time. (I'll share more details about our conversation in a future post.)


After a while we made our way outside where we were treated to a farm tour by Susan, Peter, Daniel, and Emily. The weather was perfect!

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0208pslife2012-05-05_0001DSC_0227ps  life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0207pslife2012-05-05_0001DSC_0229ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0235ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0234ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0242ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0240ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0245ps

Daniel showed us his observatory.


We toured the church. They built it using lumber from the property. I loved the salvaged stained-glass window.

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0252ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0258ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0261ps

This next stained-glass window was made by Sarah! She was a stained-glass apprentice in Italy!

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0254ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0263ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0265ps

Susan invited us in to her ‘chicken coop’ office.

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0269pmps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0270ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0271ps

More conversation. More questions. More answers.


We said goodbye to Susan and headed back through the woods to the B&B where Mike and Tanya served up a fantastic lunch.


It was late afternoon again when we made it back to Colonial Williamsburg. We had time to see a few more sights, including speeches by “George Washington” and “Thomas Jefferson.”

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0289pmps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0290ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0291ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0295pmps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0304ps

We spent some time at the dress shop while the clouds let loose and the rain poured.

life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0307ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0312ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0314ps life2012-05-05_0001DSC_0317ps

After a long walk through the warm rain, we met up with Susan for dinner at the Blue Talon Bistro. The French decor and atmosphere was fabulous, and the food was excellent. (It goes without saying that the conversation was stimulating.) It was the perfect ending to an unforgettable day! (I’m running out of adjectives…)