Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Reformation Day!

This morning we attended Reformation services at the two churches Man of the House is serving as interim pastor. He preached a great sermon on the five solas of the Reformation. This evening we will watch my favorite Luther movie, the old one with Niall MacGinnis as Luther. Below is a scene depicting the most famous episode from his life.

And you thought it was Halloween. ;-)

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I don't know if that's even a word, but it's the right one to use for these small happenings at our house.

First, a library book sale!

This is my haul. Small but carefully chosen considering limited money and space. Girl of the House had her own haul, not to mention a complete set of Churchill's memoirs of World War II, which she is eagerly anticipating for Christmas. The illustrations for The Wind in the Willows are by E.H. Shepard. How could I resist??

Next, dinner one night last week. (And lunch for two more days.)

I generously estimate that this pie cost $4 to make. Not bad, even if you don't count the leftovers!

Summer Reading--Final Installment

I thought since we are bumping up against November that I should submit my final installment of my summer reading progress. I have two books to report on.

From Front Porch to Back Seat: Courtship in Twentieth Century America by Beth L. Bailey--An intriguing read that brought many issues into focus and clarity for me. Bailey explains how we got from courting in Grandpa and Grandma's day to the sexual revolution. She explains the changes that the Great Depression and World War II brought to the dating scene and how young people coped with them. I'd love to see an update of this book that includes current practices such as hooking up and the "friends with benefits" phenomenon, though I'm sure I'd find it depressing.

The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman--Wow, what a book! Berman encourages his readers to take the monastic option, his term for opting out of the mainstream pop culture and developing in its place a culture focused on the true, the good, and the beautiful. (Aside~~though I don't recall Berman using the "true, good, and beautiful" in his book, that's my shorthand for his desire for people to live with an emphasis on the Things That Last, Eternal Things, the Things That Really Matter). Berman doesn't see this happening on a large scale, but he believes that individuals and families can make this happen for themselves on a small scale. In fact, he believes that once this monastic option becomes an organized movement, it ceases to be the monastic option at all. Though too short, the happiest note of the book is his inclusion of homeschooling at a monastic way of life. The most distressing note is his continual insistence that the Enlightenment be the objective standard of reference for all serious thought. That's a serious shortcoming, but there is nevertheless much good in this book. One of the reasons I liked it so much is that he describes in many particulars the way my husband and I have chosen to shape our family culture over the years. Everyone likes affirmation. :-) For one thing, we at least know that we aren't completely nuts and that there are others who have many of the same ideas we do. In the monastic option, it's difficult for the monks to find each other precisely because we aren't an organized movement. No forum exists to bring us together; we have no conventions, headquarters, or periodicals. It's truly exciting when we stumble upon each other.

Read Carol's review of the book also. She gives many insights.

So, the final tally for my summer reading is as follows:

The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien
Through the Kitchen Window by Susan Hill
Morning Tide by Neil Gunn
Why Johnny Can't Sing Hymns: How Pop Culture Rewrote the Hymnal by T. David Gordon**
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck
Richistan: A Journey through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the Rich by Robert Frank
Motel of the Mysteries by David Macaulay
The Rage Against God: How Atheism Led Me to Faith by Peter Hitchens
The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
Front Front Porch to Back Seat by Beth L. Bailey
The Twilight of American Culture by Morris Berman**

**Must reads

School Update

We have finished seven weeks of school and I thought it was time for an update. We finally, in this seventh week, had a "normal" week with no disruptions for illness, doctor's appointments, travel, or alien invasion. I tried not to let it get to me that each of the first six weeks were interrupted in some way. That's life. We just picked up where we left off and kept plugging away. That's a heck of a lot better than getting riled up and fretting. If there's one thing I've learned, it's that homeschooling is a marathon, not a sprint, and you can't let disruptions derail you. That and that doing something each day, even if it's only a little, adds up unbelievably fast. This is brought home to me each spring when I prepare Girl of the House's portfolio for the dreaded Annual Evaluation by a Public School Teacher Who Is the "Real" Educational Expert and Will Yea or Nay Our Entire Efforts for the Year. When I lay everything out and see it altogether, even difficult years like last year come out far better than I was hoping. It all adds up. Okay, so that's two things. :-)

So here's how our year is going so far. Let's start with Girl of the House's (aka Girl 2) Potter's School classes:

Physical Science~~Going very well. Girl 2 loves the textbook (Apologia) and while the teacher is new to TPS and has some challenging circumstances in her life, she's inspiring Girl 2's love of the subject. That's what I like in a teacher. :-) The math is challenging for our mathophobic daughter, but she's working hard to learn it. So far they've covered topics such as the atmosphere, atoms, and air. The experiments are the most fun part. This past week we made a stream of water bend~~no touching!~~by using a comb and a cat!

German I--This class and physical science are Girl 2's first forays into high school courses. The challenge of ramped up expectations and requirements were being met a bit shakily in the first two weeks, but we are on a roll now. Vocabulary, conjugations and the like are being mastered, and Girl 2 can now recite the Lord's Prayer in German from memory. The teacher is experienced and organized and knows her stuff. A real blessing!

Ancient History and Literature~~Man of the House is spearheading this. I am so blessed to have a husband who plays an active part in our children's education! They've moved into Herodotus after finishing the Iliad and Odyssey and were going to do selected portions, but Girl 2 insisted on reading the entire thing (a la Helene Hanff). Who could say no to that?? She's also doing work in Spielvogel's Western Civilization, which is going well as far as I know.

Math--Well. Humph. Math is not the favorite subject at our house, either to learn or to teach. That's where That Boy comes in. He's been tutoring Girl 2 and also helping her with the math for science. It makes a difference to have a tutor who loves the subject and knows the in's and out's of it. . . not like some I could mention . . . meaning myself. They've moved into the Zeta level of Math-U-See, which deals with decimals and percents and other mathematical perplexities. So you see we are "behind" in math, whatever that means~~we are where we need to be for Girl 2, and that's what matters. She also gets a dose of Calculadders each day when I remember. For some reason she never seems to remind me. ;-) This is the area where I need to constantly remind myself that doing a lesson each day really adds up over the long term. It's so easy to lose track of the great gains made through regular, faithful work each day.

Grammar--We've been devotees of Rod and Staff English for a long time. It's thorough if a little preachy, which we find amusing at some times and annoying at others. I had hoped to make it all the way through the 8th grade book this year, but it's beginning to look like that won't happen. Since I'm more concerned with my children learning the material than covering a certain amount of ground each week, at our current pace we'll have to continue next year, but that's okay with me. Who knows, though? Maybe we'll be able to pick up the pace. Right now we are in chapter 2 and slaving away at clauses~~dependent, independent, and otherwise.

Spelling--Progressing nicely, thank you. We are in the D section of our dumb spelling mistakes book. When we get to Z, we will leave spelling as a formal study forever. Hopefully, we will never leave proper spelling in actual usage.

Writing--I cannot say enough good things about the One Year Adventure Novel curriculum. Girl 2 loves it, and I've learned a lot just grading her work (which doesn't take much time at all). There are online webinars (phooey on that word!) and plenty of additional study aids on the website. This is just what Girl 2 needed to help her develop and hone her fiction-writing skills. Worth every penny!

Bible--We are studying our way through Luther's Small Catechism (and explanations) at the dinner table. Man of the House has also set Girl 2 to reading through an Old Testament survey. I don't really know how this is going, but since I'm not hearing sounds of wailing or the gnashing of teeth from either party, I assume all is well.

In addition, voice lessons are going well and Girl 2's singing is improving. She's spending time outside most days (though not as often as I'd like) either riding her bike (and falling off said bike all too frequently, walking in the park, or persuading a litter of wild kittens to take up residence in our backyard instead of the neighbors' by plying them (kitties, not neighbors) with food and the promise of much petting if they will comply.

So goes the first seven weeks of school. Only twenty-six more to go!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

From My Commonplace Book

"Don't be too easily convinced that God really wants you to do all sorts of work you needn't do. Each must do his duty 'in that state of life to which God has called him.' Remember that a belief in the virtues of doing for doing's sake is characteristically feminine, characteristically American, and characteristically modern: so that three veils may divide you from the correct view! There can be intemperance in work just as in drink. What feels like zeal may be only fidgets or even the flattering of one's self-importance. As MacDonald says, 'In holy things may be unholy greed!' And by doing what 'one's station and its duties' does not demand, one can make oneself less fit for the duties it does demand and so commit some injustice. Just you give Mary a chance as well as Martha!"~~C.S. Lewis

"If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales."~~Albert Einstein

"A house without a woman and firelight is like a body without soul or sprite."~~Poor Richard's Almanack (1733)

"Let the wife make the husband glad to come home, and let him make her sorry to see him leave."~~Martin Luther

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Sick Day=Shakespeare Day

Girl of the House didn't feel too well today. She has trouble with reflux at times, and today was one of those days. Since I knew when I was planning the schoolyear that there would be days like this, I prepared. Last summer I bought two copies of the Oxford School Shakespeare Edition of Henry V, the corresponding ArkAngel CD set, and the Kenneth Branagh version of the play on DVD to have on hand when needed. Girl of the House propped herself on the couch and we listened and read along. I like the Oxford School Editions because they include notes on the text, discussion questions, and the like. This is the fourth Shakespeare play that we've gotten under our belts this way: read and listen to the play and then watch a movie version. . . or two. . . or three. It's been a successful method for us. By her own admission Girl of the House loves Shakespeare. I can't complain about that! And as long as she's not too miserable to do even this much, the day is not a total loss. In fact, I think it's a day well spent. If she's still not feeling well tomorrow we'll continue. If she is, we'll pick it up next time she's under the weather.

To whet your appetite, here is Kenneth Branagh's inspiring rendition of the St. Crispin's Day speech. It sends shivers up my spine!

Friday, October 8, 2010

Autumn at My House

Pumpkins, gourds, acorns and buckeyes~~


Fall flag~~

Mellow sunshine~~

Autumn banners~~

And a black cat~~

The one thing we don't have a lot of yet is autumn leaves. The trees are late changing this year!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Getting Boys to Read, or Why We Homeschool Reason #8

There's been a bit of a controversy this past week over an article published in the Wall Street Journal about boys and reading. I was working on a post about it but then saw that Cindy at Ordo Amoris had already said it very well. She's a homeschooling mother of eight boys and a girl, several of whom are graduated, so she knows something about this topic. Go read her post and be enlightened. Links to the original WSJ article and a response from Scholastic are there too.

If you homeschool or plan to homeschool, making Cindy's blog a regular stop on your blog reading schedule will be well worth your time.

Catching Up

Lake Michigan--gorgeous! It really has been two months since I last made a blog post!  This summer has been full of traveling, gardening...

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