Tuesday, February 26, 2013

And the Winner Is…

I did one of those Random Number Generator things, but I’m not smart enough to figure out how to post a picture of it on my blog (which is one of many reasons why I still have this simple personal blog and not a high-profile blog, ha!). I came up with number 17, and if I counted correctly, the winner is Susan!

“I just went to my old blog at homeschool blogger. I couldn't remember when I started blogging. October 2005. Over 7 years. My kids were 4, 7 and 8. Wow! they are now 11, 14, 15. Pre, 2nd and 3rd grade to 5th, 8th and 10th. I'm just floored thinking about it. Lets see how long ago did you take my photos. I think I found Poets Garden first and then learned about Mt Hope from your mom. All in the same year or pretty close. Nope-I went to poets garden with a friend for my birthday one year (may) and then the following may you took my photos. I just don't know what year that was. I still have a 16x20 bw of me in the trees in my room. Let me know if you remember.”

Susan, I searched my blog, and we did your pictures four years ago, waaaay back in May of 2009. We’ve both come a long way since then, haven’t we? (And how is it that we haven’t gotten together since then?!)

Susan @ Poet's

I loved Susan’s family blog, From the Narrows. One of my favorite blog posts of hers was Little House—River Crossing. I remember reminiscing about my own childhood with two sisters (and a log cabin playhouse made by my dad!) and being a little wistful that I didn’t have girls to wear prairie dresses. [grin] Susan’s current blog, Lily Fields, showcases her gorgeous photography.

Readers, friends, your kind comments have been read and re-read. I started this blog for my own record, but knowing that I can encourage or inspire others has kept me going these six years. Your sweet words have brightened my gray February. Thank you so much!!

I’m amazed at how many of you have been reading for years. The pre-Lola and post-Lola divide cracked me up. But I realized that I found out I was pregnant with her at the three year mark—exactly half-way through this blogging adventure.

Thank you, again, for being part of the lovely at Mt. Hope Chronicles!!

Here’s to another six years and more!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

A Respite of Sorts


I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but we don’t go (much of) anywhere. For some reason (well, there are several), we just aren’t a vacationing sort of family. But recently it was clear that we needed to get out of Dodge for a little while. A condo in Bend for a few days seemed like the perfect get-away. We’ve done it before (and here)…when Lola was just a wee baby. (My kind sister gets us really inexpensive lodging at Eagle Crest through their time-share, and magically there were three nights available in a large three-bedroom condo for this past week.)

Then on Saturday Levi was very sick. He stayed in bed (our bed, under the electric blanket) all day. He hardly even read. Just slept mostly. He had aches and chills. On Sunday the other three started downhill. Leif was lethargic and quiet. Luke didn’t sleep well that night. Lola was very clingy and sad on Monday. But, I figured, if we had to be sick, we might as well be sick in a lovely condo bigger than our house (with two bathrooms—luxury!!).


So we headed over to Bend on Monday afternoon with four sick children. Our plans of meeting up with friends that evening were cancelled. Instead, we sat around blowing noses, consuming sugar, and watching television. It was lovely lovelier than staying home.



Our exciting outings were trips to the grocery store for staple items such as shirts (I had forgotten to pack any for Levi), thermometers (Lola was very feverish the first night, and not at all after I bought the thermometer), and sugary cereal (that we never have at home).

Russ did take the boys to the pool a few times, but Lola had to be content with a few dips in the whirlpool tub. She didn’t seem to mind.


Russ and I had been craving dinner at the Tumalo Feed Company. The food was wonderful. Being there with four sick-ish kids wasn’t.




Russ was kind enough to drive me into Bend (and then watch the kids) on Wednesday to finally meet up with Tsh. I was disappointed that we weren’t able to all hang out for an evening, but a chat over tea and hot chocolate was wonderful. I snapped a few head shots for some upcoming publicity stuff.


Russ snapped this picture as we were leaving the coffee shop (eek, it’s me with a celebrity!!):


We packed up and headed home on Thursday. The boys had been begging to play in the snow. We are exciting, fun parents who plan big, awesome things for their kids—so we stopped for 10 minutes at a brake check area on the road home to let the kids get cold and wet and think that they had a great vacation. It was a success.


P.S. Happy SEVENTEENTH anniversary to my favorite man in the world.


Luke had to strip his clothes because he was soaked. And then we drove home, eating cheap sugary cereal the whole way.

The end.


Russ and I are going out on an anniversary date this evening, sandwiched in between a sicky vacation and an out of state work trip for him. It’s the good life, I tell ya.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Walking Poppy to the Mailbox

I totally stole this picture from my mom’s blog (which incidentally has a bunch of baby Rilla pictures on it if you’re wondering where those might be).

Lola loves walking her Poppy to the mailbox when she spends time at his house.


Thursday, February 21, 2013

Back from vacation, and…

This pretty much sums it up. (Although you could add in copious amounts of sugar, Advil, Benedryl, television, ipads, and caffeine. Yes, one of those high-quality vacations. I knew you would be impressed.)

Monday, February 18, 2013

Mt. Hope Academy Curricula ~ Literature: Part 2


Have you been enjoying the curricula series? Is there a particular subject you are waiting for on pins and needles? [grin]

If you are just now checking in or would like quick links to previous posts, this is what we have so far:

I’m a little overwhelmed when I think about how many subjects I have left to cover, but I’ll get there eventually!


::  The first thing that comes to mind (as I’ve just started leading a new-ish group) is our literary analysis book club for children called Book Detectives. My sister and I started out leading a parent-child group including my two oldest sons, and I am currently leading a group of students including all three of my boys. I shared detailed notes from our first meeting at this link.

Using Deconstructing Penguins: Parents, Kids, and the Bond of Reading as our inspiration and Teaching the Classics as our method, we read books together (usually picture books) and discuss setting, protagonist, antagonist, conflict, plot, and theme. I am continually amazed at what nuggets of truth and wisdom can be gleaned from simple picture books. The discussions have been enlightening, and I am thrilled with what the kids are learning (as I learn along with them!). (Why did I not learn such delightful literary analysis in school?)

Teaching the Classics teaches a method that can be used for any piece of literature, from picture books to world classics. One of the most helpful aspects of the syllabus is the extensive list of Socratic questions that can be asked of any work. For example:

Does the protagonist solve his own dilemma? Is it solved by some external source of 3rd party? Is he helpless in the end to achieve his goal (like Frodo in Lord of the Rings), or does he triumph by virtue of his own efforts (Odysseus in The Odyssey)?

For parents who appreciate a little more hand-holding for analysis and discussions of specific pieces of literature, Center for Lit has created three levels of Ready Readers:

Each volume in the Ready Readers series provides complete discussion notes for a collection of classic stories, including questions from the Socratic List on all major structural and stylistic elements: Conflict, Plot, Characters, Setting, Theme, Context and Literary Devices. Each question is answered in full with references to the text. Ready Readers also provides completed story charts and a short author biography for each title.

(Click on a specific volume at the link above to find samples of that level.)

I think the occasional, social, discussion-based literary analysis of picture books (and a few simple chapter books) is a perfect way to introduce younger children to literary elements, help them be familiar and comfortable with analysis, and encourage them to think more deeply about the books they read without robing them of the joy of reading.



::  The boys also read a large quantity of quality literature for children (and the more simple classics) during their free reading time. (This isn’t particularly either structured or unstructured time. I just have books available for them. Many are on our shelves. Or I have specific books picked out from our shelves or the library and stacked on the oversized ottoman in the front room. Often they grab the books on their own when they have a little down time. Often I hand them a book and say “read this.”)

One of my favorite ways to enhance these readings is to find picture book (or sometimes chapter book) biographies about various authors. A few examples:

Lost Boy: The Story of the Man Who Created Peter Pan
The Literary Adventures of Washington Irving: American Storyteller
River Boy: The Story of Mark Twain
Pioneer Girl: The Story of Laura Ingalls Wilder
Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations
The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen

Many of these we read when we are studying the historical time period of the authors’ lives, but I always pick them up when I find them at the library, and the boys seems to enjoy picking them off our shelves at home as well.


I also like reading several books by or about one author at a time. For example, we read Beatrix Potter because every child, young or old, should. Our stack of books and movies at that time looked something like this:

Beatrix Potter The Complete Tales
Beatrix Potter's Nursery Rhyme Book
The Beatrix Potter Collection (I adore this DVD collection. Lola watches it often, and the boys join her.) 
Tales of Beatrix Potter Starring the Royal Ballet (This ballet interpretation is great fun. Ballet and literature. Lovely.) 
Miss Potter (The fabulous biographical movie.)
My Dear Noel: The Story of a Letter From Beatrix Potter
The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter (This book is incredible, but I expect nothing less from DK.)
[Leif and his cousin often played a darling little Peter Rabbit game, but I can’t find it online at the moment. Now I just wish we would have made Peter Rabbit cupcakes with this Meri Meri Peter Rabbit Cupcake Kit. I sense a PR party coming on…]


I’ve spent years collecting children’s books and classics, and I’ve spent hours (days, weeks, months…) scouring lists and following rabbit trails on Amazon.

Where would I start, were I to make a list of favorite children’s literature? I think I’ll save that list for another day. Until then, check out the 1000 Good Books List. I believe the idea is that children should read 1,000 good books to fill their minds with what is true, good, and beautiful before reading the “Great Books” in high school and beyond. I think my sons are well on their way. [grin]

We don’t specifically integrate our literature reading with writing assignments or vocabulary study at this time. (I’ll cover both of those when I talk about language arts.)

Also, I will be sharing some resources for poetry, but they will fall under either fine arts or language arts (for my purposes, anyway).

Next up: Faith

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Do you know what today is? (Don’t miss this post!)

Header Collage 2



One thousand, six hundred, forty-one blog posts.

Gasp!! Can that be possible?

Who knew I had that much to say (other than my mom and my sisters and my best friend…)?

I didn’t realize when I started this journey that it would take on a life of its own. I’m glad that I made the decision to keep this a personal blog, but that also means that my topics are all over the place. And sometimes I post a bunch about one thing, and then the blog seems to shift as my life does as well. And sometimes I talk even when I have nothing to say.

I’m thankful for this record of the past six years of my life that I would never have kept otherwise.

I’m thankful for readers. And comments. I’m thankful for the things you have shared and taught me.

I’m thankful for the many friendships I have gained.

We really must celebrate.

The only way to celebrate here at Mt. Hope Chronicles is with chocolate chips cookies, sentence diagramming, or books. I already shared chocolate chip cookies for Valentine’s Day, and I’m guessing sentence diagramming doesn’t sound like much of a party to most of you, so books it is.

That’s right. An Amazon gift certificate give-away.

(And you can even get something other than books. Just don’t tell me.)

In a way, I’m just giving back a little portion of what you have given me. Because y’all have been awesome about purchasing books through my Amazon links the past few months. I’m a bit stunned at the response to my recommendations. (It terrifies me just a little.) Did you know that I get credit for all the other items you put in your cart when you go to Amazon through one of my links? So thank you to the fantabulous readers who buy mattress toppers, Oakley sunglasses, golf equipment, Kitchenaid stand mixers, Lego Ninjago sets, almond flour, and all sorts of other interesting things after hitting Amazon through my links. Seriously! Your purchases really make a difference. (Just in case you were wondering, I cannot see who purchased items, just what items were purchased!)

Here’s the deal. I’m giving away one $50 Amazon gift certificate to a lucky winner.

To enter the give-away, leave me a comment on this post letting me know how long you’ve been visiting and what you most enjoy reading about here at Mt. Hope. If you would like, you may even ask your burning questions or make requests for new post topics.

Make sure I have a way to contact you!

The give-away ends on Saturday, February 23rd at midnight, Pacific time. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday the 26th.

The give-away is now closed. I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday the 26th.

Thanks for all of the kind words, friends and readers. They have meant so much to me!!

In the beginning, February of 2007, I had a very basic Blogger template. I can’t seem to find the image I added to my header about a year later in 2008 (sadness!), but I thought it would be fun to stroll down memory lane with a few more recent headers. I think the above collage was my first photo header in 2009.

Spring 2010:
Header April 2010

November 2010:
Blog Header Nov 2010

Spring 2011 (My favorite!):
spring header 2011

December 2011:

I know it is about time to update my current header, but I’m waiting for some super-duper inspirational pictures to choose from, and that just isn’t happening in February at our house.

Where will we be in another six years?

My boys will be 17, 14, and 12!! Lola will be 8! I will have been married 23 years and homeschooling for 13. Golly! I can’t even imagine what life will look like.

Will you join me for the adventure?

I'm not sure if this will work as I am away from home and not working from my home computer, but a fabulous reader sent me a link to my archived blog with my first custom header. Let's see if I can get it posted here:

Friday, February 15, 2013

Random Thoughts on Energy


By my very nature, I am an energy conserver (to the extreme!). By their very natures, all four of my children (and my husband) are energy expenders (to the extreme!). When energy is being drained, or when anything feels out of control, my first instinct is to contract my world, smaller and smaller, until energy or control returns. My children are like corn popping on a stove. They hurtle against all boundaries. When it is my job to maintain boundaries, routines, productivity, and behavior for six people (four of whom are popping corn), the amount of energy I am required to expend is extraordinary.

When laundry, dishes, dirt, character, and popping children feel out of control at home, the last thing I want to do is expand the boundaries of the world I’m responsible for keeping under control—the behavior, the interactions, the safety, the productivity. It’s a beautiful day, but I have no desire to even step outside.

How does one let go of being a control freak in such situations, but still be productive? Still have relatively well-behaved children? Still monitor interactions with others? Still keep children safe? Still participate and serve in community?

When laid-back but effective nurturing/guiding/inspiring is not in one’s nature, it takes twice as much energy to be calm and consistent (and keep track of and follow through with all consequences). Honestly, implementing consequences is the most colossal energy-sucker of all.

And when four children are popping in opposite directions, how do I parent one without the other three running amok (other than contract their boundaries to a great degree)? I now have a serious case of ADD and can no longer do even one task effectively. I certainly can’t socialize and parent at the same time. I can’t even make dinner and parent at the same time.

Can anyone relate? Are you an energy-conserving introvert? Do you have multiple high-energy, high-volume, action-seeking, boundary-pushing children? How do you cope without squashing them into a tiny little manageable world?

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweets for You

Valentine's Sweets


Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies from Against All Grain

Not that I’ve been making great food choices the past few days (always a struggle for me!), but I did try a grain free chocolate chip cookie recipe. My mom gave it two thumbs up, so I thought I’d share. {grin}


Wednesday, February 13, 2013



At least it was breakfast. And a little six year old boy forgot to clear his plate.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Mt. Hope Academy Curricula ~ Literature: Part 1

Leif reading
“The other subject areas of the curriculum are linked to history studies. The student who is working on ancient history will read Greek and Roman mythology, the tales of the Iliad and Odyssey, early medieval writings, Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, and (for the older student) the classical texts of Plato, Herodutus, Virgil, Aristotle. She’ll read Beowulf, Dante, Chaucer, Shakespeare the following year, when she’s studying medieval and early Renaissance history. When the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are studied, she starts with Swift (Gulliver’s Travels) and ends with Dickens; finally, she reads modern literature as she is studying modern history.”

~ Susan Wise Bauer, What is Classical Education?


We have a multi-pronged approach to literature. Reading is a big deal at our house!


Our main focus is literature corresponding to our history studies.

This year we are studying ancient history. In addition to many picture books and collections of stories from various cultures, such as The Elephant's Friend and Other Tales from Ancient India and The Master Swordsman & the Magic Doorway: Two Legends from Ancient China, our line-up includes retellings of ancient epics, stories, histories, and myths:


Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up in a War: An Epic Tale From Ancient Iraq (The world’s oldest written story.)


Gilgamesh the King (The Gilgamesh Trilogy) 

Gilgamesh the Hero by Geraldine McCaughrean


Tales of Ancient Egypt by Roger Lancelyn Green 

Casting the Gods Adrift: A Tale of Ancient Egypt by Geraldine McCaughrean 


D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths (and other books about Greek myths) 

Tanglewood Tales: Greek Myths Retold for Children by Nathaniel Hawthorne, illustrated by Edmond Dulac

Herodotus and the Road to History by Jeanne Bendick 

Famous Men of Greece by John H. Haaren (includes some myths) 


Aesop's Fables for Children illustrated by Milo Winter


The boys are listening to The Iliad translated by Robert Fagles, read by Sir Derek Jacobi while reading many retellings of Homer’s epics.

The Trojan War by Olivia Coolidge (a beautiful retelling of the Iliad!) 

The Children's Homer: The Adventures of Odysseus and The Tale of Troy by Padraic Colum 

The Trojan Horse by Albert Lorenz 


Iliad and the Odyssey retold and illustrated by Marcia Williams


Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of 'The Iliad' by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Wanderings of Odysseus: The Story of the Odyssey by Rosemary Sutcliff 


Tales from the Odyssey by Mary Pope Osborne 

And on to the Roman poet Virgil:


In Search of a Homeland: The Story of the Aeneid retold by Penelope Lively 


Jason and the Golden Fleece (from Euripede's Medea and the Argonautika by Apollonius) retold by James Riordan


Heroes, Gods & Emperors from Roman Mythology by Kerry Usher 


Roman Myths by Geraldine McCaughrean

One Thousand and One Arabian Nights by Geraldine McCaughrean 

Celtic Fairy Tales by Neil Philip


We also have a collection of Jim Weiss story CDs that fit in with ancient literature:

Egyptian Treasures: Mummies and Myths 
Heroes in Mythology: Theseus, Prometheus, Odin   
Greek Myths
She and He: Adventures in Mythology
Tales from Cultures Far and Near
A Storyteller's Version of... Arabian Nights
Celtic Treasures
Julius Caesar & the Story of Rome
Galileo and the Stargazers: Including Archimedes and the Golden Crown


The boys are reading many excellent historical fiction selections this year.

While the stories were not told or written during ancient times, they still contain a great amount of historical context and help the boys imagine what it might have been like to live during those times. They are also excellent stories in their own right.


Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ by Lew Wallace  Levi will be reading the original, but the boys love the radio theatre production and also the animated movie version with the voice of Charlton Heston.

The Silver Chalice by Thomas Costain 

The Bronze Bow by Elizabeth George Speare 

The Eagle of the Ninth (The Roman Britain Trilogy) by Rosemary Sutcliff 

Outcast by Rosemary Sutcliff

The Young Carthaginian by G.A. Henty, abridged and told by Jim Weiss

Julius Caesar (Shakespeare, the movie production) 

(This list is only a small selection.)



The boys also read not-quite-as-excellent historical fiction (just for fun).

The many books in the Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (which I just discovered has been turned into a British movie series). Levi has already read all the books, but I think Luke might enjoy them this year.

Detectives in Togas and sequel by Henry Winterfeld 

And I simply can’t fail to mention…

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan (Egyptian mythology) 

Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan (Greek mythology)

Heroes of Olympus series by Rick Riordan (Roman mythology)


Inspired by this list at Life in Grace,

I chose a few ancient-history related poetry selections for the boys to memorize:

Ozymandias by Percy Bysshe Shelley (about the statue of Pharaoh Ramesses II)

The Destruction of Sennacherib by Lord Byron (about an Assyrian king)

The Invocation of the Muse by Homer in Book I of The Odyssey (Robert Fagles translation)

“Sing to me of the man, Muse,
the man of twists and turns
driven time and again off course,
once he had plundered the hallowed heights of Troy.”

Antony’s speech from Julius Caesar (Act III, ii, 76-109)


That is the bulk of our history-related literature studies.

At this point we just read and enjoy.

Next up: Literature: Part 2

(It’s a good thing my boys love to read!)