Pages

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Liturgy ~ In the Midst

In the Midst @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Supper. Walking along a road. In the midst of real life.

“Jesus is apt to come, into the very midst of life at its most real and inescapable. Not in a blaze of unearthly light, not in the midst of a sermon, not in the throes of some kind of religious daydream, but… at supper time, or walking along a road.

This is the element that all the stories about Christ’s return to life have in common:

…Peter taking his boat back after a night at sea, and there on the shore, near a little fire of coals, a familiar figure asking, “Children, have you any fish?”; the two men at Emmaus who know him in the breaking of the bread.

He never approached from on high, but always in the midst, in the midst of people, in the midst of real life and the questions that real life asks.”

~Frederick Buechner, Listening to Your Life

Walking along a road @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Autumn ~ The Ripe Earth

The Ripe Earth @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Collect

We walked through my brother-in-law’s vineyard Sunday at sunset, picking grapes. [Luke snipped the clumps (he loves these grapes) and collected them in his sack while I took pictures and ate grapes.]

Connect

"At no other time than autumn does the earth let itself be inhaled in one smell, the ripe earth; in a smell that is in no way inferior to the smell of the sea, bitter where it borders on taste, and more honeysweet where you feel it touching the first sounds.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

[We have been reciting the following poem while walking together in the mornings. It is one of my favorites that Levi memorized years ago.]

Fall, leaves, fall; die, flowers, away;
Lengthen night and shorten day;
Every leaf speaks bliss to me
Fluttering from the autumn tree.
I shall smile when wreaths of snow
Blossom where the rose should grow;
I shall sing when night’s decay
Ushers in a drearier day.

~Emily Bronte

Grapes and Laundry

We should all do what, in the long run, gives us joy, even if it is only picking grapes or sorting the laundry.

~E. B. White

Doing Good, Making Honey (Lectio Divina!), and Bearing Grapes

We ought to do good to others as simply as a horse runs, or a bee
makes honey, or a vine bears grapes season after season
without thinking of the grapes it has borne.

~Marcus Aurelius

Create

Photo above.

[I should have used the headings Eat, Digest, Grow/Transform for this Lectio Divina!]

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Autumn Apples

Autumn Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

“Autumn seemed to arrive suddenly that year. The morning of the first September was crisp and golden as an apple.”

~J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Collect

Autumn did seem to arrive suddenly this year. It was on the first day of autumn during our brief morning walk that Leif brought the apples to my attention.

We have two ornamental crabapple trees (I think that’s what they are—I’m a poor naturalist), but one decided to grow an apple tree from the graft site at the base. Half of this tree is now crabapple, and half is apple. Surprise! It is a young tree, and this is the first year we’ve received a small crop of apples. The kids were delighted and had apples for morning snack after drawing them in their nature journals.

Connect

Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Lola immediately searched her books and found How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World. She read through it, stopping to sing her continents song on the map page (naturally integrating her CC Foundations memory work, hurrah!). This book is similar to another favorite, Pancakes, Pancakes! by Eric Carle.

While traveling the world to gather ingredients for apple pie may be a bit unrealistic, I love that she knows where and how we get ingredients. She has picked fruit, ground wheat for flour, and watched a how-to video on milking cows (we’ve had cows grazing in our field before, but it’s more difficult to find someone with milking cows!). Next on our list are gathering eggs (maybe we can bribe Aunt Holly) and churning butter.

Bowl of Apples @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Create

We had to make an apple pie, of course, so Lola helped me pick apples this morning and we managed to get a pie made.

Hot Apple Pie @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[Now, for the realistic version: I did manage to get the pie made, even though I’m sick with a cold and all four children were disobeying and I finally told the two youngest to leave the kitchen because they were driving me crazy. The apples were little and a pain to peel and slice. I also managed to peel the skin off my finger and slice my thumb with a cardboard box. My crust turned out so flaky that it didn’t hold together well. I tried to use a form for cutting out cute little apples on the top crust, but they just looked like holes. After baking, the crust was browned, but the apples weren’t soft, and everything fell apart when I cut into it. The kitchen (and house) looked like a war zone. I ended up going back to bed to avoid it while the kids watched television instead of doing what they were supposed to be doing. The end.]

Friday, September 23, 2016

The Thistle

The Bull Thistle @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Collect

We have been observing the bull thistles in our field during each morning walk before symposium. We exclaim in delight when the purple crowns appear, and the kids have chosen the thistle for drawing in their nature journals a couple times (though they are hazardous to handle).

Connect

I found the above quote from an essay by Mary Oliver, because Mary Oliver always says what needs to be said about anything, profoundly, I might add.

If that isn’t quite enough for you, how about the beauty in this poem?

The singular and cheerful life
of any flower
in anyone’s garden
or any still unowned field–

if there are any–
catches me
by the heart,
by its color,

by its obedience
to the holiest of laws:
be alive
until you are not.

Ragweed,
pale violet bull thistle,
morning glories curling
through the field corn;

and those princes of everything green—
the grasses
of which there are truly
an uncountable company,

each
on its singular stem
striving
to rise and ripen.

What, in the earth world,
is there not to be amazed by
and to be steadied by
and to cherish?

Oh, my dear heart,
my own dear heart,
full of hesitations,
questions, choice of directions,

look at the world.
Behold the morning glory,
the meanest flower, the ragweed, the thistle.
Look at the grass.

Mary Oliver, The Singular and Cheerful Life (Evidence: Poems)

I’m a little partial to the thistle because I am part Scottish (my maiden name is of Scottish origin), and the thistle is the national flower of Scotland. But why?, you might ask. Why the thistle? I didn’t know, so I had to do a little research. Legends, heraldry, poetry. Good stuff. But what I loved most was the Latin Motto of the Order of the Thistle:

NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSIT

(No one attacks me with impunity)

This led to a search for the definition of impunity. No one has impunity (freedom from punishment) where a thistle is concerned, that’s for sure.

And Latin. Ah, Latin. My eldest son immediately translated “nemo” into “no one” and said that Captain Nemo of the Nautilus in 2,000 Leagues Under the Sea specifically took that name because of its Latin meaning. (And, of course, the Nautilus also has Latin meaning.)

Create

The kids sketch in their nature journals while I read aloud from Shakespeare Stories after our quick morning walk, but I felt like I needed to join them on this one, even if my sketching leaves much to be desired. I’m setting the example that it is okay not to be excellent at something. We do it anyway, with a cheerful attitude…

nemo me impune lacessit @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Thursday, September 22, 2016

His Glory Made Manifest

The Heavens Declare @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

Collect:

Psalm 19 [Our Bible memory from The Heavens Declare (#12) and Luke’s CC Ch A catechism]

The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.

Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge.

There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard.

Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.

In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun,

which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion,

like a champion rejoicing to run his course.

It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other;

nothing is hidden from its heat.

Connect:

[From MCT’s Caesar’s English, our vocabulary from the same Symposium as above picture/early morning walk and Psalm song/memory work]

Profound: deep, far-reaching, absolute, thorough, penetrating…

Prodigious: Great, enormous, marvelous, extraordinary, large, powerful, vast

Manifest: obvious, apparent, illustrate, evince, observable, evident, unmistakable

Create:

The heavens manifest God’s profound and prodigious glory.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

End of Week 3 ~ Beginning Week 4

Expanding the Memory Work @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I never seem to get a week-in-review post up at the end of the week. We are still finishing up on Saturdays, and Sundays are busy with preparations for the coming week. So y’all get a “this is how last week went, and here’s how this week is going so far” post.

Here we are in the midst of week 4.

I’m still getting up by 6:15ish every morning (which is impressive considering how much I struggle to get out of bed). I make the bed immediately and then shower (and put on earrings and a little makeup) and then have quiet time. I don’t touch my computer (or look at my phone, other than the alarm and the time) until after these things are completed. That has made a world of difference. [But I still get “stuck” on my computer and don’t tackle breakfast and the rest of my morning prep as diligently as I should. I need to set a timer and severely limit my computer time.]

We are still starting symposium by 8 am, sharp.

I need to adjust our Wednesday schedule a bit to accommodate piano lessons and Levi spending time on Latin at a friend’s house.

But attitudes and focus have tanked.

It was bound to happen, and we just have to push through until we figure out how to work diligently, even when we don’t want to work hard. I keep coming back to this article by Angelina Stanford at CiRCE:

But, laziness is not inactivity; it’s doing something other than your duty. Laziness is polishing your shoes when you should be writing your research paper. It’s shooting 100 free throws to get ready for the big game instead of washing the dishes. It’s even offering to help others instead of memorizing those Latin forms. Laziness disguised as helpfulness is particularly deceptive. Laziness is so deceptive that it can even drive you to do something you really don’t like instead of doing your duty.

I’m trying to teach my oldest son that procrastinating may seem easier, but it increases our time spent on tasks as well as allows a black cloud to hang over us for prolonged periods of time. We’re bowed down by the weight of our “to-do” list, when, in reality, it may be a quick and much less painful thing to face the task immediately and get it done. The real weight of our tasks is distorted, and we dread them when we shouldn’t. Of course, I realize that I am still fighting this lesson, almost 30 years later. [Again, Charlotte Mason knew what she was doing when she focused on habit training in the early years.]

Until this new schedule becomes habit, it is going to be hard and painful at times. I may have had a few, um, “heated discussions” with my son in the past week or two. After an impromptu family outing on Saturday, we learned that it may be best to limit weekend activities until we figure out how to get our work done during the week.

I have continued to have as many formal family dinners as possible. Last Wednesday I stopped by the local farm stand on the way home from piano lessons. Between the fresh salmon my husband caught the day before and all the fresh produce, we had a feast. I decided to invite my parents over for dinner, which I hadn’t done in a very long time. I even set a formal family dinner on Monday evening, which is our usual frozen-pizza-made-by-children-while-mom-hides-under-covers-in-her-bedroom night. I stopped at the farm stand again this Wednesday, and I’m looking forward to fresh veggies until they close for the season.

We’re adjusting to a new swim team routine. After several years (five-ish?) at the pool in the town just southeast of us, Russ has accepted a new coaching job at our local YMCA and all three boys are making the switch with him. It is a beautiful new facility, and I think this team change will work well for us. The schedule is certainly preferable. They also have child care for Lola (hallelujah!), a masters swim team for Russ, and a free meal program! I think Tuesday and Thursday evenings we’ll take advantage of the free meal for the kids, since I’m picking them up from practice so that Russ can swim with the masters team. [That leaves Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays for our main family dinners. The weekend is less predictable.] The YMCA is also closer to the high school where Levi may be swimming this winter.

Speaking of Levi and swimming… he has been out of commission with a broken foot for the past six weeks, but he just received a green light from the doctor this week. It’s not healed completely, though, so he still has to go easy on it for the next two weeks.

Lola began a tumbling class at the YMCA this week.

Essentials tutoring is going well. Leif and Lola are settling into the CC community day routine (Monday was the second week for them).

My Scholé Sisters group is meeting at my house this Thursday for our final Flannery O’Connor discussion. We are then moving on to Tolkien for this coming year.

I haven’t been reading as much as I’d like, but I did manage to finish The Call of the Wild and Johnny Tremain. (I may have read them a very long time ago, but I couldn’t remember details.)

The list of things we I still need to work on is long: getting to sleep a little earlier, reading more, creating a chore schedule, helping my Challenge 1 student (a delicate issue, since he doesn’t want help but needs it), exercising (yeah, I haven’t been as consistent this past week), and eating better (food is my joy and I want to eat all day long). I could add about 20 more things to the list, but we’ll leave it there. I can’t fix everything at once.

I’ll end with Luke’s Canada assessment from memory for Challenge A (roughly 7th grade). Drawing is a struggle for him, so I’m proud of him for sticking with this map.

Luke's Canada Map @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Saturday, September 17, 2016

The Call of the Wild ~ Poetic Parallelism

Parallelism in The Call of the Wild @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

I’ve written about parallelism in the past. It’s powerful and poetic (and picturesque). After finishing The Call of the Wild by Jack London, I am compelled to compose a complete post with copious quotes from this conspicuous narrative. [Oh, wait. This is a post about parallelism, not alliteration.]

The Call of the Wild is an excellent introduction to classic literature for older kids. It’s a fairly short and simple story (my copy has 134 pages with a fair amount of white space), but the themes are more complex than most children’s books and the vocabulary is rich and varied. For example, London manages to squeeze two of my favorite words into a short sentence:

“And so it went, the inexorable elimination of the superfluous.”

As I was reading, I noticed that London used parallelism prolifically in this novel. Because parallelism is a prominent skill taught in The Lost Tools of Writing as well as the building block of many literary devices, students should be on the lookout for examples in their own reading.

The Call of the Wild is a literature selection for the Classical Conversations Challenge 1 program, so it is a handy example for Challenge students. Let’s explore a few instances of parallelism in this novel.

Among the terriers he stalked imperiously, and Toots and Ysabel he utterly ignored, for he was king—king over all the creeping, crawling, flying things of Judge Miller’s place, humans included. [three present participial adjectives]

Manuel had one besetting sin. He loved to play Chinese lottery. Also, in his gambling, he had one besetting weakness—faith in a system; and this made his damnation certain. [anaphora (the repetition of “Manuel/he had one besetting____”)]

Here was neither peace, nor rest, nor a moment’s safety. [emphasis on the 3rd noun with the addition of an article and possessive adjective]

The day had been long and arduous, and he slept soundly and comfortably, though he growled and barked and wrestled with bad dreams. [two adjectives, two adverbs, then emphasis on the third with three verbs]

This first theft marked Buck as fit to survive in the hostile Northland environment. It marked his adaptability, his capacity to adjust himself to changing conditions, the lack of which would have meant swift and terrible death. It marked further decay or going to pieces of his moral nature, a vain thing and a handicap in the ruthless struggle for existence. [Three clauses (subject, verb, direct object) with anaphora (the repetition of “theft/it marked” at the beginning of each clause)]

Their irritability arose out of their misery, increased with it, doubled upon it, outdistanced it*. The wonderful patience of the trail which comes to men who toil hard and suffer sore, and remain sweet of speech and kindly+, did not come to these to men and the woman. They had no inkling of such a patience. They were stiff and in pain; their muscles ached, their bones ached, their very hearts ached^; and because of this they became sharp of speech, and hard words were first on their lips in the morning and last at night. [*emphasis on third without preposition, +emphasis on third with extra words “of speech and kindly,” ^emphasis on third with “very”]

All things were thawing, bending, snapping. [three present progressive verbs]

And amid all this bursting, rending, throbbing of awakening life, under the blazing sun and through the soft-sighing breezes, like wayfarers to death, staggered the two men, the woman, and the huskies. [three gerunds, three nouns]

With the dogs falling, Mercedes weeping and riding, Hal swearing innocuously, and Charles’s eyes wistfully watering, they staggered into John Thornton’s camp at the mouth of White River. [one gerund, two gerunds, gerund/adverb, adverb/gerund—love the alliteration of “wistfully watering” (and “with,” “weeping,” and “White”)]

Mercedes screamed, cried, laughed, and manifested the chaotic abandonment of hysteria. [four “-ed” verbs, emphasis on the last as it continues with a vivid direct object]

But love that was feverish and burning, that was adoration, that was madness, it had taken John Thornton to arouse. [anaphora (“that was…”), the first clause has a predicate adjective, the second two have predicate nominatives]

And when, released, he sprang to his feet, his mouth laughing, his eyes eloquent, his throat vibrant with unuttered sounds, and in that fashion remained without movement, John Thornton would reverently exclaim, ‘God, you can all but speak!’ [anaphora (“his” repeated each time); so poetic with the adjective following the noun]

He sat by John Thornton’s fire, a broad-breasted dog, white-fanged and long-furred; but behind him were the shades of all manner of dogs, half-wolves and wild wolves, urgent and prompting, tasting the savour of the meat he ate, thirsting for the water he drank, scenting the wind with him, listening with him and telling him the sounds made by the wild life in the forest, dictating his moods, directing his actions, lying down to sleep with him when he lay down, and dreaming with him and beyond him and becoming themselves the stuff of his dreams.

Strangling, suffocating, sometimes one uppermost and sometimes the other, dragging over the jagged bottom, smashing against rocks and snags, they veered in to the bank. [two present participles, two “sometimes____” phrases, two present participles + prepositional phrases]

They went across divides in summer blizzards, shivered under the midnight sun on naked mountains between the timber line and the eternal snows, dropped into summer valleys amid swarming gnats and flies, and in the shadows of glaciers picked strawberries and flowers as ripe and fair as any the Southland could boast. [past tense verb + two prepositional phrases, past tense verb + three prepositional phrases (last with compound object), past tense verb + two prepositional phrases (last with compound object) (all objects of prepositions in first three phrases have adjectives), but emphasis placed on the last phrase by switching order and starting with prepositional phrase and ending with past tense verb (and compound direct object)—so poetic!]

There is a patience of the wild—dogged, tireless, persistent as life itself—that holds motionless for endless hours the spider in its web, the snake in its coils, the panther in its ambuscade… [three adjectives, emphasis on the third with a simile; three nouns with prepositional phrases repeating “in its”]

…this patience belongs peculiarly to life when it hunts its living food; and it belonged to Buck as he clung to the flank of the herd, retarding its march, irritating the young bulls, worrying the cows with their half-grown calves, and driving the wounded bull mad with helpless rage. [present participles with direct objects, increasing intensity and adding words to each subsequent phrase]

As twilight fell the old bull stood with lowered head, watching his mates—the cows he had known, the calves he had fathered, the bulls he had mastered—as they shambled on at a rapid pace through the fading light. [three nouns with adjectival clauses, with repeated “he had”—very strong grammatical parallelism]

From then on, night and day, Buck never left his prey, never gave it a moment’s rest, never permitted it to browse the leaves of the trees or the shoots of young birch and willow. [three verb phrases with “never” repeated at the beginning of each (anaphora), each subsequent phrase getting longer]

The birds talked of it, the squirrels chattered about it, the very breeze whispered of it. [three clauses, grammatically parallel; interesting switch from “of” to “about” in the second clause, emphasis on third clause with addition of “very,” epistrophe (repetition of the word “it” at the end of the clauses)]

He plunged about in their very midst, tearing, rending, destroying… [three present participles]
Thenceforward he would be unafraid of them except when they bore in their hands their arrows, spears, and clubs. [three nouns]

One wolf, long and lean and gray, advanced cautiously… [three adjectives]

Friday, September 16, 2016

The Liturgy of Seasons

He Gives Them Seasons @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Collect

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we [demons] have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy [God] (being a hedonist at heart) has made change pleasurable to them, just as He has made eating pleasurable. But since He does not wish them to make change, any more than eating, an end in itself, He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme. He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.

~C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

Connect

Ecclesiastes 3:1-13 (NKJV)

To everything there is a season,
A time for every purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born,
And a time to die;
A time to plant,
And a time to pluck what is planted;
3 A time to kill,
And a time to heal;
A time to break down,
And a time to build up;
4 A time to weep,
And a time to laugh;
A time to mourn,
And a time to dance;
5 A time to cast away stones,
And a time to gather stones;
A time to embrace,
And a time to refrain from embracing;
6 A time to gain,
And a time to lose;
A time to keep,
And a time to throw away;
7 A time to tear,
And a time to sew;
A time to keep silence,
And a time to speak;
8 A time to love,
And a time to hate;
A time of war,
And a time of peace.

9 What profit has the worker from that in which he labors? 10 I have seen the God-given task with which the sons of men are to be occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also He has put eternity in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.

12 I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives, 13 and also that every man should eat and drink and enjoy the good of all his labor—it is the gift of God.

This morning Lola asked me to read her The Year at Maple Hill Farm by the Provensens (one of my favorite picture books).

Animals don’t know there is such a thing as a year,
But they do know about seasons.
Animals know when the cold will come,
And they grow heavy overcoats.
They know when it is summer,
And they shed them.
When it is hot, they look for shade,
And in winter, they look for shelter.

Create

Eat and Drink @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Symposium and Morning Liturgy

Symposium at Mt. Hope Chronicles

As I’ve been contemplating the concept of Liturgy, I’ve been working to put some ideas into practice. Our Symposium time is the most obvious time to incorporate liturgical practices, as well as family dinner time. Several people have asked about our Symposium, so this is a brief glimpse into our mornings so far this scholé year.

[My alarm goes off at 6am, but I snooze until 6:15 then immediately make the bed and go shower, get dressed, and put on makeup and earrings. I usually have a few minutes to read my Bible before waking the kids.]

6:45  Wake up boys cheerfully (I let Lola wake on her own; Luke sets his own alarm and is often up earlier). Give hugs and snuggles as needed. [I often finish my quiet time while they are slowing getting up out of bed. I give them a second, more imperative wake-up call at 7ish.]

Put on classical music [Week 1 was Aaron Copland, week 2 was George Gershwin, week 3 is Stravinsky]

Morning chores [I need to be better about assigning chores. I switch laundry (all the clean laundry gets put on my bed to fold as I can during the day and put away before bedtime), make tea, check email and FB.]

7:30  Breakfast [I have a list posted on the fridge, but I often make eggs or protein waffles for myself and whomever will eat them.]

Clean up.

8:00 SHARP. Shoes and sweatshirts on and everyone out the door. Levi (with broken foot) on porch. Walk with whomever down the driveway. Talk about how the air feels, the clouds, what we see. Find nature specimen (thistle with purple crown, Queen Anne’s Lace, fallen leaf, remnant of a wasp’s nest, pet snail, pine cone, blackberry sprig…). Talk with Lola about what is nature and what is not (which leads to boy questions such as “are genetically modified foods nature?”). I take pictures of nature. [On rainy days, jump rope or other activity on porch. Grab nature book for nature specimen.]

Nature Journaling @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

8:10 ish: Back inside for nature journal sketching while I read from Shakespeare Stories by Leon Garfield. [I don’t micro-manage their journals. They draw and write whatever they want.]

8:20 ish: Morning prayer from Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, Pocket Edition

Single Voice/Community prayer (have kids repeat after me)

Song/Hymn [We sing a song in Latin from Lingua Angelica.]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Psalm [We sing a complete song from Sing the Word: Psalm 24 from God Our Provider to tie in with Challenge A catechism (will rotate Psalm songs weekly, next will be Psalm 19 from The Heavens Declare, again to tie in with Challenge A).]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Scripture [Take turns reading from Bible, beginning with the book of John]

“In our lives and in our prayers : may your kingdom come.”

Our Father/Pater Noster [We say it in English and then in Latin.]

Ending Single Voice/Community prayer

8:30 ish: Memory work [Working on passage from Declaration of Independence and one from Shakespeare (“All the World’s a Stage”) both to tie in with Challenge 1]

Morning Liturgy @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

8:40 ish: Beauty “Loop”

Day 1: Picture study/narration using Cave Paintings to Picasso (review past artwork, take turns gazing at picture, share what we saw or how it made us feel, or what it reminded us of; read commentary; enter artwork in family timeline notebook)

Day 2: Read from Michael Clay Thompson’s Music of the Hemispheres (poetry)

Day 3: Read about composer from morning music in The Story of the Orchestra (enter in timeline)

Day 4: [If we have 4 days of symposium, double up on a favorite (We have CC community day on Mondays and a shorter symposium on Wednesdays due to piano lessons, so our main symposium days are Tu, Th, and Fri.)]

8:55 ish: MCT Caesar’s English [short portion] Latin and literature-based vocabulary

9:00 Dismiss with the doxology from Jude (1):24-25. Say, “The Lord be with you,” and children respond, “And also with you.”

.

At this point in our morning, Levi and Leif go off to their respective study spaces to complete independent work, and I stay with Luke in the living room (where his study space is located) to work on Latin.

.

So far, I’ve been really consistent with our mornings and then continuing our learning schedule for the rest of the day. I’m trying to add in some more liturgical practices during our day, but that has proved much more difficult once we separate for our daily tasks. We’ve been hit or miss on the following, and I’d like to continue to do them as often as possible:

Midday Prayer from Common Prayer [meet at noon in the living room just before lunch]. The Midday Prayer includes the Prayer of Saint Francis of Assisi which is on our history, speeches, poetry, literature list for cycle 2! [I may loop between several prayers, including Saint Patrick’s Prayer], the Beatitutes, and The Anima Christi.

I’ve been working on setting a formal family dinner as often as possible—nice dishes and all food in serving dishes on the table. We light candles. We pray the Table Blessing in Latin and English before regular prayer at dinner.

I would love to end dinner with the Evening Prayer from Common Prayer that includes public confession, The Doxology (Praise God, from Whom All Blessings Flow or occasionally the Gloria Patri), declaration of faith (possibly changing this to The Apostles’ Creed), and the Magnificat (I love hearing my friend Lori sing this one and Levi occasionally has this playing while he works on his school work).

I’ve also tried to practice “Collect, Connect, Create” from Jenny Rallens. During dinner we sometimes share something we’ve learned and how it connects to something else we know or have experienced, then we share how we might use this knowledge.

[For example, Luke said he learned that drawing maps from memory is harder than it looks. We talked about other things that are harder than they look. And then we talked about how things get easier the more you practice. Leif said he learned that thistles are very prickly. Then he said that donkeys must have very tough mouths in order to eat them. Lola said she learned that the purple flower on a thistle is soft and not prickly.]

I saw another idea online—the “Thankfulness Pumpkin.” Each day in October and/or November, we’ll use a Sharpie pen to write on the pumpkin things that each person is thankful for and keep the pumpkin on the table as our dining table centerpiece. I think this will be a great, easy way to practice gratitude this fall.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Week Two and Beyond at Mt. Hope Academy

Week Two @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

After such a great first week, I knew that we might have a few bumps during week two. I was correct, but it was still better than I expected. I had thought about all the reasons the first week was a success, and that helped me understand what we needed to continue in order to have a strong week two.

Last Week (Week 2):

It was a busy week, which made it more difficult to keep up with formal family dinners, exercising, and reading aloud, but I still managed to get up by 6:15 every morning, have a smidge of quiet time, start symposium by 8 sharp, and stick with our school schedule during the day.

Sunday: Church in the park, Leif baptized in the river, BBQ (no formal dinner)

Monday: Week 2 of Challenge, Foundations orientation, Formal family dinner (even though Mondays are usually casual night)

Tuesday: Dinner with friends

Wednesday: Russ in Portland for meeting, Formal dinner with the kids

Thursday: Cleaned house all day so I could host an IEW DVD viewing party for Essentials parents in the evening, Hair cut, Russ took kids to fun pool at the YMCA and then out to dinner

Friday: Errands, Ivy’s 50s Diner birthday party

Saturday: Early to Renaissance Faire with friends (until the HOT afternoon), then last outdoor movie night of the summer with friends (The Princess Bride)

[It was our 8th or 9th visit to the Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire. We started attending when Leif was only a year old, but we’ve missed one or two years.]

Shrewsbury Renaissance Faire @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesRen Faire Face Painting @ Mt. Hope ChroniclesIn the Pillory @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

[I think I need a pillory at home. Leif had so much fun getting hit with “potatoes” (potato-shaped, water-soaked sponges) because it was a hot afternoon and he was the only one who stayed cool.]

This Week (Week 3):

Sunday: Church, Errands, CC prep (finishing up the last of Levi’s Ch 1 work, planning and prepping for tutoring Essentials)

(No formal dinner)

Monday: Week 3 of Challenge and week 1 of Foundations for Lola and Leif and Essentials for Leif and me (tutoring)

(No formal dinner (because I was in bed between CC and book club, ha!))

Challenge A book club in the evening with Luke and friends

Tuesday: Russ gone fishing with friends

UPCOMING:

Wednesday: Piano lessons for Leif and Luke; Levi at Char and McKinnon’s house for Latin

Thursday: Ortho appointment for Levi

Friday and Saturday: Nothing on the schedule (hallelujah)

Sunday: Work in nursery, Lola tumbling class, Errands, Prep for CC community day

Thursday, September 8, 2016

What Worked and Why (and What Didn’t)

What's Working and Why (and What Isn't) @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

A friend asked me why I thought our first week of scholé went so well. Was it something we did or just a serendipitous gift?

I thought about it for quite a while, and I’ve continued to think about it through some to-be-expected bumps this week.

In the end, I think there were so many contributing factors that it’s difficult to pick one or two.

Instead, I’ll list a bunch of reasons, in a general order of importance.

  • We had a schedule, which I had shared with the kids ahead of time so they knew what to expect.
  • I made everyone get to bed early (or earlier than we’re used to)
  • I got up early (on time) and followed the schedule.
  • I stayed focused and attentive all day long, even when the kids were “working independently.”
  • I made the kids follow the schedule.
  • We mostly ate good breakfasts, which gave us energy for our day.
  • We started our scholé time with a small amount of fresh air and exercise. This got air into our lungs, and oxygen to our brains. And it was fun.
  • After a very short walk outside, we began with enjoyable together time (“symposium”). This warmed up our brains and our attention before heading off to individual work areas to do some heavier focusing and diligent work. By the time symposium hour was up, the kids were ready to get away and do their own work.
  • When our time was up for each “subject,” we moved on, even if we weren’t “finished.” The kids had an easier time focusing for shorter periods, they kept a good pace because they knew they only had about 45-60 minutes to work on each subject, the day went quickly and felt fresh because they didn’t labor too long over any one thing. (Also, if they finished early, I didn’t pile more work on them to fill the time.)
  • I scaled back on Luke’s Challenge A work so that he would feel confident and successful. I worked with him for most of his subjects instead of leaving him alone to figure it out on his own. When he felt confident and told me he could work independently, I let him.
  • Levi has shown a bit of increased maturity and asked to work independently on most of his subjects. I honored this change, and it was harder to argue with him when we weren’t working together. [wry grin] The first few weeks of Challenge I are fairly light in terms of work.
  • Lola was able to play with Legos or draw or paint. Something she was not able to do in the past. Thank you, God.
  • Inertia. This is a big one. Since I was up and moving, it was easier to stay up and moving and get little things done like thaw meat for dinner or switch the laundry. It was easier to pay attention to what I needed to be doing and what was coming up on our daily schedule.
  • Because the kids were busy with school work at their own independent stations, they didn’t have time or opportunity to fight or destroy the house. Keeping them busy is good for them and good for my sanity.
  • I’m part of an online exercise accountability group, so this helped me stay on track there.
  • Formal dinners were such a success that I wanted to continue the trend.
  • All those little things (paying attention to meal “planning,” taking my vitamins, eating regular meals, having quiet time in the morning) are difficult to make happen, but they make things go more smoothly, or make me feel better physically, mentally, and spiritually, so they pay off in results.
  • Everything is new and exciting, so attitudes were mostly good (mine included).
  • We had a light schedule (no swim practice, piano lessons, extra activities, etc.), so we had some breathing room.

 

What I’ve learned this week (particularly on Sunday when I relaxed and wasn’t vigilant):

  • It takes a long time for a child to recover from an overnight party.
  • If the kids aren’t busy, the house falls into disarray.
  • When the house is in disarray, it’s difficult to recover.
  • Bad attitudes snowball.
  • Being off schedule snowballs.
  • It’s hard to maintain vigilance over long periods of time.
  • Things aren’t quite as fun the second week.
  • Moving specimens for nature journaling are very distracting.
  • Lectures take up a lot of learning time.
  • Outside activities are distracting.
  • Students can’t control themselves when they are using a computer for school work.

[All that said, we have still had a decent week so far.]

 

What I need to work on:

  • Not eating all day long.
  • Going to bed earlier.
  • Staying vigilant with our schedule.
  • Lesson planning/organizing ahead of time.
  • Organizing and cleaning around the house (particularly in my office/school room).
  • Making a chore chart of some sort for the kids.
  • Adding things to our schedule (piano, swim, activities, tutoring…) without coming undone.
  • Working more with Lola.
  • Not getting burnt out.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Commonplacing The Quotidian Mysteries

Not in Romance but in Routine @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

The Quotidian Mysteries: Laundry, Liturgy and "Women's Work" by Kathleen Norris

Recommended by my friends Danielle and Jessye

Read as the ChocLit Guild book selection for August

A slim book at only 88 pages

4 stars

Collecting Quotes

Menial derives from a Latin word meaning “to remain,” or “to dwell in a household.” It is thus a word about connections, about family and household ties.

God is a begetter, not a maker, and poets are makers, not begetters. Maker is what the word poet means at its Greek root, and I am all too acutely aware that what I make, the poems and the personae that fill them, are not creatures in the fullest sense, having life and breath.

And I see both the miracle of manna and incarnation of Jesus Christ as scandals. They suggest that God is intimately concerned with our very bodies and their needs, and I doubt that this is really what we want to hear. Our bodies fail us, they grow old, flabby and feeble, and eventually they lead us to the cross. How tempting it is to disdain what God has created, and to retreat into a comfortable gnosticism.

The ordinary activities I find most compatible with contemplation are walking, baking bread and doing laundry. My everyday experience of walking confirms the poet Donald Hall’s theory that poetic meter originates in the bodily rhythm of arms and legs in motion.

[W]hat ties these threads of biblical narrative together into a revelation of God’s love is that God has commanded us to refrain from grumbling about the dailiness of life. Instead we are meant to accept it gratefully, as a reality that humbles us even as it gives us cause for praise.

[I]f you’re like me, you take a kind of comfort in being busy. The danger is that we will come to feel too useful, so full of purpose and the necessity of fulfilling obligations that we lose sight of God’s play with creation, and with ourselves.

The poem, like housekeeping itself, is an attempt to bring order out of chaos. In the  poem, by pulling many disparate things together, I tried to replicate the actual work of cleaning, sorting through the leftovers, the odd pieces of a life, in order to make a whole. I sense that striving for wholeness is, increasingly, a countercultural goal, as fragmented people make for better consumers…

I was slow to recognize that combating sloth, being willing to care for oneself and others on a daily basis, is not small part of what constitutes basic human sanity, a faith in the everyday… Benedict’s Rule for monasteries…characterizes sloth as disobedience.

But acedia seeks to hoard against the time when God is no longer present, and we can’t trust the nourishment that other people offer. It rejects the present moment in favor of a vainglorious and imaginary future in which we will do just fine, thank you, at providing for ourselves… In contemplating the “daily bread” that we ask for in the Lord’s Prayer, Simone Weil asserts that God has created us so that the present is all we have.

It is not in romance but in routine that the possibilities for transformation are made manifest. And that requires commitment.

I have come to believe that the true mystics of the quotidian are not those who contemplate holiness in isolation, reaching godlike illumination in serene silence, but those who mange to find God in a life filled with noise, the demands of other people and relentless daily duties that can consume the self.

Our desire is to love God and each other, in stable relationships that, like any good marriage, remain open to surprises and receptive to grace.

 

Connecting

:: Laziness by Any Other Name by Angelina Stanford @ CiRCE [short article]

I read this article just after finishing Quotidian Mysteries, and it was a painful well-aimed arrow.

But laziness, like all sin, is a deceiver, and the first person it deceives is the sinner. Laziness loves to masquerade as work. It’s easy to deceive ourselves and others when we seem so busy and hard working. But, laziness is not inactivity; it’s doing something other than your duty.

:: Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper [book]

I’ve found a contemplation of the word “leisure” to be a fascinating and fruitful endeavor, and it is interesting that the ideas of acedia and sloth are connected to the concept of leisure. So many words have lost their rich meaning in our modern culture [more about that in an upcoming post].

At the zenith of the Middle Ages, on the contrary, it was held that sloth and restlessness, "leisurelessness," the incapacity to enjoy leisure, were all closely connected; sloth was held to be the source of restlessness, and the ultimate cause of "work for work's sake."

 

[I am using Collect, Connect, Create as my process for Lectio Devina, as shared by Jenny Rallens. Often in my blog posts, the photograph at the header (and the blog post in general) is my resulting creation from the Lectio Divina process.]

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Week One: DONE

Week One Done @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

Inertia is a thing, friends.

I’ve been open and honest about my apprehensions about this coming year. Homeschooling, while beautiful and lovely in so many ways, has also been hard and we haven’t been doing as well as I have wanted, particularly the past two years. And we’ve done almost nothing for five months. FIVE MONTHS. We’ve stayed up late. We’ve slept in. We’ve adventured. We’ve relaxed. We’ve skipped all semblance of a home routine. I was sure re-entry was going to be painful.

This year I also have children doing challenging work, and none of them are doing the same work. Four children in four different stages (high school, middle school, late grade school, and kindergarten).

I felt paralyzed and couldn’t clean, organize, or plan for our school year. I didn’t feel ready.

And yet start we must.

I had a schedule, and I was determined.

This past week was a miracle. An honest to goodness miracle.

It was perhaps our most successful full week of homeschooling and home life that I can remember.

Usually when we have a good day or two of homeschooling, everything else falls apart. This week we managed to do most things well—or at least keep most things from going backwards. OR we usually have one good day and then two rough ones. This week we managed to have seven decent days!

Again, miracle.

Monday I was up by 6:15, we were out the door for Levi’s and Luke’s first days of Challenge, I co-led an Essentials Parent Orientation Meeting, and I managed to get some exercise before going to bed.

Tuesday-Friday, we managed to stick fairly closely to this schedule (minus swim practice and some of Leif’s independent work since he hasn’t yet started Foundations and Essentials).

We sat down to a formal family dinner 4 nights in a row (Monday night was casual pizza night).

I managed read-aloud and prayers before bed 3 nights in a row (Levi was gone last night, so we took a break.)

I read to Lola every day.

I blogged every day this week.

I exercised every day. I drank tea and took all my vitamins and supplements.

I had quiet time/Bible reading every day.

I kept up with laundry and dishes.

My house is NOT clean, but it’s cleaner than it usually is.

Lola played well independently. She even sat at the table for a long time and drew several pictures using the Usborne Step-by-Step Drawing Book. She painted. She played with Legos. Who is this child?!

I remembered to play classical music in the mornings between 7-8 am.

I got to bed before 11 pm every night (though Poldark was really messing with my earlier-to-bed intentions).

I was up by 6:15 every morning (the alarm goes off at 6, but I’m terrible at bouncing out of bed), and made my bed and showered and had quiet time first thing (before getting on my computer).

I still managed to hang out on Facebook and Instagram occasionally.

I read! After a couple months of slipping in my reading habits and inspiration, I read a little each day.

We had treats. Homemade Italian cream sodas. Luke made marzipan.

The kids swam in the fun pool at the YMCA two evenings.

Levi had a pool party with his classmates at his tutor’s home and an overnight gaming birthday party at a friend’s house.

We added to our symposium schedule in the mornings. We picked up a nature specimen on our short walk and the kids drew in their nature journals while I read a short portion of a Shakespeare retelling.

We’ve had a lazy Saturday. We went to the local farmer’s market as a family and ate goodies and purchased bread and veggies for dinner. We did our weekly Costco shopping.

Who is this family?!

Luke is THRIVING. The kid loves his computer time and struggles with non-concrete learning and any writing/pencil work, but the kid LOVES routine.  I scaled his Challenge A work back a bit so that he would feel successful and confident. He had time to read at least 4 other books and play on his computer this week. He had all Friday afternoon off.

Levi had a great week. He still has some work to do this afternoon and tomorrow, but he worked independently and with a great attitude all week. (Who is this child?!)

I know this was a light week, and we’ll have more to juggle as the month goes on. The Challenge work will increase. Foundations (Leif and Lola) and Essentials (Leif and I am tutoring) begin on the 12th. Piano lessons for Luke and Leif begin on the 14th. Tumbling class for Lola begins on the 18th. Swimming for Russ, (Levi, when his foot is healed), Luke, and Leif begins on the 19th. Music class for Lola begins on the 19th.

We have evening meetings for the Essentials IEW DVD viewing, Challenge A book club, and Scholé Sisters [finishing the last Flannery O’Connor meeting and then beginning Tolkien]. We have birthday parties and the Renaissance Faire, and dinner with friends, and Choc Lit Guild book club.

We have a new family membership at the beautiful new YMCA facility since Russ is coaching swimming there now. I’m not sure what opportunities we’ll avail ourselves of there.

Levi is planning to swim with the local high school this winter.

But we’ll adjust week by week.

For now, I’m THRILLED with our successful start.

Here’s to a new week. Let’s see if we can keep our momentum.

[I’ll be posting soon with details about our scholé week and how we are implementing the CC Challenge A and 1 work.]

Friday, September 2, 2016

Truth, Goodness, & Beauty: From Principle to Practice [Part 1: Vision]

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty 

Today, I am practicing Lectio Devina. I am taking what I’m reading and hearing, what I’m contemplating and synthesizing, and sharing it with you.

This series has three parts, because all good thoughts have three parts, right?

We’ll begin with a look at Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. (See? Three!)

For those of you familiar with the Myers Briggs personality types, I am an ISFJ. This means that I’m concrete and sequential, but I’m very emotional about it. [grin]

This also means that I have to digest philosophical ideas in a concrete, practical way. Maybe this is the “caricature” learning, as Andrew Kern calls it. First, the broad and basic outlines, a child’s drawing. Later, the nuances. I’m still in the stick-figure stage.

I am sharing here in humility. Much of what I share with you is what I have organized from excellent thinkers, writers, and speakers. (“I’m a synthesizer, not a generator,” as one of my friends said recently.) Or we can call it curating: select, organize, and present (hey, that’s the three stages of Lectio Devina!). Consider this a peek into my commonplace journal. Or, to state it more correctly, this is my commonplace journal.

Education Begins in the Trinity @ Mt. Hope Chronicles 

The above quote is beautiful, isn’t it? We can let the words wash over us, but I don’t think we can begin to apply them unless we truly contemplate the meaning of the words. When I begin to contemplate, I almost always start with definition.

We will start our series with Truth, Goodness, and Beauty (vision), then move on to Cosmos (form), and then finish with Liturgy (routine and content). This won’t be anything close to an exhaustive contemplation, but merely a jumping off place.

Truth, Goodness, & Beauty: The Vision

Sources:

:: David Hicks (PNW CiRCE Conference)

:: The Wound of Beauty by Gregory Wolfe @ Image Journal as well as my notes from Greg Wolfe’s talk at the PNW CiRCE Conference

:: Awakening Wonder by Stephen R. Turley, PhD

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.

These are our WHY, our principles. Our vision for education.

If you are like me, you’ve heard the words truth, goodness, and beauty often, particularly in the context of defining Classical Education. But what exactly do they mean? What are they? Where did they come from? How do we know them? Why are they important? How do we pursue them?

What are they?

Truth, Goodness, and Beauty transcend our reality, which is why they are known as the transcendentals.

They point to or reflect something beyond our physical reality (God). They don’t explain themselves. They require a first cause, a reason outside of themselves for their existence.

The First Cause Argument by Peter Kreeft

If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a great chain with many links; each link is held up by the link above it, but the whole chain is held up by nothing.

The most famous of all arguments for the existence of God are the "five ways" of Saint Thomas Aquinas. One of the five ways, the fifth, is the argument from design, which we looked at in the last essay. The other four are versions of the first-cause argument, which we explore here.

The argument is basically very simple, natural, intuitive, and commonsensical. We have to become complex and clever in order to doubt or dispute it. It is based on an instinct of mind that we all share: the instinct that says everything needs an explanation. Nothing just is without a reason why it is. Everything that is has some adequate or sufficient reason why it is.

C. S. Lewis put it, "I felt in my bones that this universe does not explain itself."

Greg Wolfe gives us some helpful particulars about truth, goodness, and beauty:

They have qualities of being:

· Truth being knowable.

· Goodness being lovable.

· Beauty being admirable and desirable.

They are equal. A trinity.

· Truth without beauty is propaganda. It is moralism (rather than mystery). It is fleshless abstraction. Only beauty can incarnate truth.

· Goodness without beauty is moralism (a “better than thou” mindset).

· Beauty without truth is a lie and a mask, empty and hollow.

· Beauty without goodness is frigid, lifeless virtuosity. It is form without meaning.

David Hicks connects the transcendentals with the person of Christ:

Christ is the incarnation of the transcendentals, the transcendentals embodied in a person. They are not ideas, laws, or art.

· Christ expresses truth not in precepts but in parables.

· He expresses goodness not in laws but in love.

· He expresses beauty not in majesty but in humility, holiness, obedience.

David Hicks goes on to say that our modern culture has tried to convince us that truth is relative, goodness is situational, and beauty is subjective.

[Awakening Wonder] “We cannot teach our students that Truth is relative and expect our politicians to be honest; we can’t claim that the Good has been replaced by situational ethics and expect our bankers to ground their business decisions in anything other than profit, greed, and expediency; and we cannot relegate Beauty to personal preference and then feign shock when we encounter a urinal as part of an art exhibit.”

Where did they come from?

[Awakening Wonder by Turley, roughly quoted/paraphrased] “The concept of the transcendentals first emerged in the early Greek world, around the 5th century BC, but we don’t find the concepts of truth, goodness, and beauty converged until the writings of Plato around 400 BC in what has been termed the ‘Socratic trinity’ or ‘Platonic triad.’ The first clear presentation of truth, goodness, and beauty comes from a 15th century commentary on Plato’s writings by an Italian scholar. For Plato, they were divine concepts, and he believed that the individual human can mirror, reflect, or image the virtues of the transcendentals and thereby participate in divine life. It is philosophia, the love of wisdom, that seeks to recover human perception of truth, goodness, and beauty so as to restore the human soul to its participation in divine life.”

“The Christian tradition (notably expressed by Augustine and Aquinas) asserts that truth, goodness, and beauty are divine attributes by which the whole of creation is endowed with meaning and purpose, and focused particularly in microcosmic form in the distinctly human manifestation of the image of God… and that all that is true, beautiful, and good finds its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.”

Why are they important?

[Awakening Wonder] “By encountering Truth, the human intellect is awakened to the infinite wisdom of God revealed in Christ; by encountering Goodness, the human volition is directed to act in accordance with the divine purposefulness of creation and our own created nature renewed in Christ; and by encountering Beauty, the human soul is awakened to the inexhaustible wellspring of diving love revealed in Christ. In short, the Christian vision of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty is an invitation, a divine call, to awaken the fullness of our humanity as the entire cosmos is incorporated into the transformative life, death, and resurrection of Christ.”

How do we know them?

Greg Wolfe says that we use human faculties to know them:

· The faculty by which we perceive or apprehend truth is reason.

· The faculty by which we perceive or apprehend goodness is faith or holiness.

· The faculty by which we perceive or apprehend beauty is imagination.

A faculty is an inherent mental or physical power.

Imagination is the faculty or action of forming new ideas, or images or concepts of external objects not present to the senses. Essentially, it is the ability to “picture to oneself.”

How do we pursue them?

So anything that helps us develop our faculties of reason, faith, and/or imagination serves us in our pursuit of truth, goodness, and beauty.

We actively praise (beauty), serve (goodness), and contemplate (truth).

And, in imitation of Christ, we seek parables (truth), love (goodness), humility/holiness/obedience (beauty).

This is where our model of education begins.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Our Daily Bread [Meal Planning]

Our Daily Bread @ Mt. Hope Chronicles

I’ve never been good at meal planning. I rarely get organized ahead of time, and when I do, I don’t follow the plan because something else sounds good that night or I don’t want to go to the work of a particular meal or our schedule gets messed up.

Instead of planning a specific schedule for our meals, I simply made lists of ideas. Dinner ideas I split into 7 main categories (one for each day of the week, though I probably won’t stick to specific days for each category and will often skip a category and double up on another). I posted the breakfast, lunch, and snack list on the fridge where the kids can see it.

I have picky eaters. And I’m a lazy cook. And we’re terrible at sit-down dinners even though formal family dinner was a daily non-negotiable during my childhood and I understand the importance. Family dinners are on my priority list for this year.

Breakfast:

Eggs (and toast for Levi) (w/ veggies for me)

Oatmeal

Greek yogurt

Protein waffles (freeze ahead)

Bagels and cream cheese

Lunch:

[+ fruit (fresh, fruit strip, apple chips, frozen blueberries, applesauce, or pineapple) and veggie (carrots, tomatoes, celery, mini peppers, snap peas)]

Tuna sandwiches

Grilled-cheese sandwiches

PB&J sandwiches

Chicken sandwiches

Hamburgers

BLTs

Chicken nuggets

Baked potatoes

Tortillas with taco fillings, beans, or chicken sausage

Mac-n-cheese

Cup of noodles

Spaghetti

Pizza

(Grilled meat with salad for me)

Snacks:

Veggies

Pretzels

Cheese sticks

Teriyaki sticks

Granola bars

Nuts or dried fruit

Toast

Sweet potato chips

Dill pickles

Olives

Chips and salsa

Dinner:

Soup (clam chowder, chicken noodle, pasta fajioli, beef stew, zuppa toscana, taco soup or chili)

Mexican (tacos, fajitas, burritos, enchiladas)

Asian (pork fried rice, Asian chicken salad, orange chicken)

Italian (spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, lemon garlic shrimp scampi)

Chicken (pesto, nuggets, stir-fry, rotisserie, fried chicken)

Beef (hamburgers, steak, sloppy joes, Swiss steak, French dip roast, beef/potato/corn hash, hamburger gravy)

Pork (sausage and spinach gnocchi, pulled pork sandwiches, spiral ham, brats)

Sides:

Veggies:

Green beans

Roasted potatoes or sweet potatoes (or potatoes/carrots/onion)

Salad

Fried onions

Sautéed asparagus

Roasted Brussel’s sprouts, broccoli, or cauliflower

(Corn)

Bread/Starch:

Homemade bread

Cornbread

Biscuits

Noodles

Rice

Mashed potatoes

Treats:

Cinnamon Oranges

Popcorn (microwave or kettle)

Brownies

Rice Krispie Treats

Chocolate Chip Cookies

French Breakfast Puffs

Italian Sodas