Friday, January 30, 2015

Our Weekly Amble for January 26-30, 2015

Last week we had two relatively solid days before the sickness descended.  This week we had a mix of rather light days and a couple of solid days.  I'm looking forward to next week and hoping for four really good days of lessons as it is our B week where Thursday is all car schooling, so significantly lighter.

On the big up side, other than Robinson Crusoe (which we're are very behind on), we're either caught up or a little ahead (I'm still trying to get my scheduling feet under me) in the AmblesideOnline reading schedule.  On the downside, I think we've done about four days of math lessons in the last two weeks.  And, really, that's not enough.

M-girl's last two Studied Dictations
This first term in Circle Time, we're reading the AO assigned Bible readings in Joshua and Mark.  We're using Brandy's Prayer Box scheme - and it is working quite well.  We're doing "Lift High the Cross" for our part-way into February because we've already learned the next hymn "Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence."  That's my favorite hymn and we sing it several times a year at church.  We're reviewing our Bible memory work, this week it was Psalm 1 and 100.  They know these pretty well.  We're also reviewing our Catechism for Young Children questions and answers. We're going through one page a day.  Then we sing a review hymn, this week we sang "Stricken, Smitten and Afflicted" on Wednesday (in the car), "Amazing Grace" on Thursday, and ended the week on a high note today with "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah."  Then, we're reading one paragraph per day from the Handbook of Nature Study's section on Weather. Then, we fill out a chart tracking the weather.  I can't imagine that they meant for me to look up the weather data on my phone, but that is what we're currently doing.  They do look outside for some of their observations. The children are memorizing Tennyson's 'Charge of the Light Brigade' and we read 'Sea-Fairies' every day for Poetry.  We finish up working through one lesson or so a week, orally, from Memoria Press' English Grammar Recitation.  So far we review the rules a couple of days and then practice them the next couple.  I like it.  We finish up with studied dictation, which I've so far selected from our Poor Richard reading.

On Wednesday, I had an appointment about 45 minutes away, so we packed up our Circle Time books and devices with music loaded and M-girl lead Circle Time while I drove.  This worked relatively well.  We listened to Act One of A Midsummer Night's Dream in the car on the way home and the children, though complaining about the language, narrated it pretty well.

As far as reading goes, N-boy enjoyed the story of the hidden rooms in This Country of Ours Chapter 31.  Those priest holes were pretty cool.  They all three enjoyed reading about the ants in Story Book of Science, this might be their favorite of the new books.  Madam How and Lady Why is going to become a read aloud because it is challenging for the younger two.  We've continued to enjoy reading Poor Richard at lunchtime, as of today, he is stranded in London with only 12 pounds to his name. Minn of the Mississippi is also well liked, the baby turtles are heading for the river and the crow is about to eat them ... exciting.  We read that while the van was being serviced (and they vacuumed it out!)  The children worked on their geography blobbing every day.  I think they're getting good enough at the tracing that we need to start being more intentional with how and what they're doing the blobbing.

Once again, math was shortchanged.  N-boy has been working on fractions and today he started working on the hundreds and thousands for place value.  M-girl is working on multiplication of multi-digit numbers.  She needs to improve her multiplication facts, though.  R-girl is adding across two and three digit numbers.  Overall, they all learned some good skills for math this week. 

Copywork is going well. They're copying Catechism Questions and Answers from the Westminster Shorter Catechism in cursive.  I like that.  Latin, on the other hand hasn't gone as well.  I'd like to make that a big focus and finish Chapter 11 of Latin for Children A next week. We mostly just did some chanting this week.  I read the selections from Age of Fable and Long's Geography aloud.  Age of Fable continues to be less enthusiastically received, but I have hopes that once we start the stories, it will become more beloved.  Long's Geography was short passage discussing plains and desserts.  I don't think it caught their imaginations and it wasn't really new information to them.  I hope this gets better.

On Thursday, we plan to have a light, Circle Time and enrichment only day.  We looked at Fra Angelica's The Deposition from the Cross using Brandy's collection of prints.  We read more of Hildegard's Gift and listened closely to 'O ignis spiritus paracliti' from Anonymous 4.  The children did *not* like the Art Garfunkel version of 'Barbara Allen' and moaned when I said we had a version from Pete Seeger.  They liked this one much better.  We do this shortened day because on some Thursdays we have our Art with Friends group.  This Thursday we canceled because of the ice storm that came through that morning.  We tried one of the exercises from a new book at our house, Art for Kids, and it was a great success. They were to draw lines and squiggles and circles and whatever all over a piece of paper and then look to see what shapes and images they could find.  It was an exercise in using their vision in a different way:

Finally, we had the opportunity to do a bit of a Nature Walk between Organ (for N-boy) and Piano (for all) lessons on Wednesday.  We saw ice, snow, the different speeds of water and ice in the river, a birds nest covered in snow, and Eastern Sycamore Trees with their seeds hanging down.  N-boy and I used our new nature study bags, but none of us wanted to stop and draw, it was too cold!

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Handcrafted: Nature Study Bags

Amy at Crossing the Brandywine is hosting a new linkup for Handrcrafts in the Charlotte Mason tradition.  This is one of the new parts added to our homeschool by going to AmblesideOnline.  My mom was a good seamstress and enjoyed other needlework. My step mom is very creative and crafty, although she has similar following direction limitations to mine. I would like the kids to be more capable in this area.

I decided our first project was to make Nature Study bags for ourselves.  We've used different bags over the years, but I wanted something a little more consistent and obviously for Nature Study.

I had seen, and pinned on Pinterest, the idea of using men's pants or shorts with the extra pockets in the legs to make bags and thought we'd try that.

Off to the clearance rack at Walmart.  There, we found a pair of camo shorts for $9 and plain blue (the girls didn't want camo) for $5.  N-boy and I decided we could use the belts for straps.  We found some zebra print strap for less than $2 for the girls to make straps for their bags.  I had thread and notions at home for the rest, so that was all of the expense. You could probably do it cheaper if you went to a thrift store, but $16 for four nature study bags seemed a pretty good way to go.

We cut the legs apart on the camo shorts.  I folded them so the whole pocket of the leg was on what would be the front of the bag, then cut the leg off as close to the bottom of the main pockets that I could.  This picture to the right shows what it looked like.  I think you can see the rounded out part from the crotch of the shorts.

Then, I cut from the bottom of that rounded part to the edge and squared off the fabric to make a flap that will fold over, eventually, we'll add buttons to close it.

For my bag, I cut one of the back pockets off and pinned it to the other side of the bag, leaving the top open for yet another two pockets.  I decided this was too much for the children's bags, but that's the one I have pictures of.  I also pinned down around the top to zigzag and finish the edges.  It could be done more neatly, but probably not by me ;)

With the bag right side out, I sewed on the outside pocket, then around the flap and opening to the bag.  I turned the bag wrong side out, pinned the bottom of the shorts together, and zigzagged it closed ... a couple of times, I don't want it to fall apart on a Nature Walk.  This last hem was what I had N-boy do.  They've never really used a sewing machine before, so a straight line, follow the edge of the foot hem was a great introduction for him!

I took the rings off the belts from the two pair of shorts, hemmed them down to finish the edges, then sewed them onto the bags.  And, Ta-Da! Nature Journal Bags.

We got sick the next day, so the girls still need to make their bags, but N-boy and I used our new bags on our hike yesterday! Yay!  We need to add buttons and closures, but I think these are going to work!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Wednesdays with Words: The Whited Air

We have been reading through One Hundred and One Famous Poems after dinner. A poem or two goes quickly and sports has been extending bedtime till too late, so something quick has been lovely. We've liked some, disliked some, known some, been surprised by some. The exercise has been good, though.

Last night, we read 'The Snowstorm' by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Apropos as we had a snowstorm the other day and are expecting another soon.

The imagery and allusions and vocabulary were stretching as we had to look some things up, but I really was taken by this line as I recall on Monday describing the everything outside the window as white.
Announced by all the trumpets of the sky,
Arrives the snow, and, driving o'er the fields,
Seems nowhere to alight: the whited air
Hides hills and woods, the river, and the heaven,
And veils the farmhouse at the garden's end.
What a perfect picture.

Revel by being Present, Patient, and Grateful

This month I've learned a lot about reveling.  Actually, I posted my initial post in December, almost at a whim ... but it was an intuitive whim that this was right. Immediately, I started gathering ideas and thoughts came which confirmed my intuition (those INFJ types, we do so rely on our intuition)

Almost immediately, I was confronted with the need to be present.  That if I wanted to know my children and revel in them, if I wanted to know my husband and revel in him, I had focus.

 I've heard women joke about having multiple tabs open in their brain.  That is totally me.  I'm always thinking about several things at once.

The electronic devices and the [ack!] books in my hand are but secondary distractions, but they need to be set down more often, too. I need to be fully present and fully concentrated on the people in my life while in their presence.

We are also doing more together, being physically present.  We've done a pilates video together most days since school started back and that has made a world of difference.We've sat at the breakfast table together for our (silent) Bible reading.  I've been reading Poor Richard, one of our AmblesideOnline books at the lunch table.  Doing these things together, at the same place and time has been a wonderful way to connect with and revel in my children.

Besides being mentally and physically present, I need to be emotionally present.  I've tried so hard to not be an MBTI type F because my husband is a T (he's so far on the T scale that he says all people are shades of F to him).  No pressure from him at all, simply one way I was trying to make connections that F people seek. (crazy, yes? Yes.) I need to let my emotional side be present without letting it take over completely as a backlash to suppression. 

One doesn't change the habits of a lifetime in a month, but at least I can start *thinking* about it.  I have tried to be more present, which is hard when Jason and I have been cycling sickness between us.  I'm such a baby when I'm sick, I just want to veg in front of a screen and be left alone. Anyway, during school-time I am making a concerted effort to only use devices for school uses.  Only for reading aloud from, playing our accompaniment music, or looking up the weather (we're charting weather for Nature Study).  On the up side, I've built in some breaks where the children and I all go play with our toys :)

Our Pastor preached through Isaiah 40 in December.  They were all fantastic, but the day after I posted my word for 2015, he preached on Isaiah 40:12-31 how the Lord's holy otherness, his being outside of his creation, his everlastingness, his very supernaturality should be a comfort to us.  We question his being far away, that He is hidden away or inattentive, when He is so very present and if we wait on him, we will be strengthened and reassured.  And then, in January, he preached about glorifying God because of the relationship with Him ... the one built by waiting on Him.

And then Candace picks up the theme in her post How to Revel in God's Word.  Wasn't that a fantastic post? She was so generous to share her story with us.  I mentioned then, but I was truly struck by her patience and stick-to-it of reading Psalms even when they weren't speaking to her ... until they did.  The notion that in order to *revel* in God, I might need to be patient hadn't ever crossed my mind.  That Waiting on the Lord was actually just patiently waiting and trusting that He would work (not that I was waiting as in tables).  Every post I read on her blog, Mercy is New, drips with her love for the Word of God and its Author, she has done what my pastor preached.  No wonder it resonated with me so! 

Finally, Mystie's eCourse, Simplified Organization, I've had it since she released it and I saved it for break, then for January, because who really wants to *revel* in homemaking? But in her first step, on Gratitude, she knocked me off my feet with that quote from Milton. It's so good, I'm going to quote it again:
Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transcendent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world.
Y'all, I was so struck. I even looked to see if reverence and *revel* come from the same root (they don't, but how cool would that have been).  I glimpsed the edges, the shards, of gratitude and thankfulness in my ability to enjoy God, my family, and even homemaking in ways I'd never before seen.  (And, yes, I read Voskamp years ago)

This is what I've been learning about my word for 2015: revel.  I'm glad it is something I can plumb over the course of a year because I think it will take that long.  I'm excited about next month's guest post, Karen from living, unabridged is writing it and I know it'll be fantastic.

Wordless Wednesday: Snow Day/Sick Day

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Simple Woman's Daybook for January 26, 2015


Outside my window... 3-4" of snow fell last night. The ground is white, the roofs are white, the sky is white ...

I am thinking... that there are some wonderful things about modern medicine.

I am thankful... 

I am wearing... a big, warm sweatshirt and my very warm, rubber soled Ohio State slippers.

I am creating... nature study bags.  Or, am ready to get back to work at it.  More to come!

I am going... to stay home, I think.

I am wondering... when 5 hours of sleep will seem like too little again.

I am reading... well, I'm holding off on reading, Sally Clarkson's new book Own Your Life. My world's best MIL gave it to me yesterday, just because. Love her. I think it will go perfectly with my word of the year for 2015.

I am hoping... M-girl is feeling better soon.  She woke feeling awful this morning. Poor baby.

I am looking forward to... my nephew's birthday party on Sunday.  He'll be 2.  So adorable.

I am learning... that I really need to preread with AmblesideOnline.  Before our changes in homeschool style, I generally got away with not prereading.  These books, I want to read, though.

Around the house... things are generally a mess after last week's sickness.

I am pondering... what N-boy and R-girl and I can do for school without M-girl and without Mommy reading aloud (I still don't feel like talking very much).  That is the danger of keeping multiple kids together.

A favorite quote for today... "Intelligence plus character: that is the goal of a true education." Martin Luther King, Jr.  I pinned this recently to my Commonplace Books board and have been thinking about it ever since.

A few plans for the rest of the week... we definitely need to go to the grocery store.  We have basketball practice and games. We have music lessons.  We possibly have a postponed trip later in the week.

A peek into my day... it's pretty, but cold.  The kids might go out later if it warms up for part of school.

Hosted by The Simple Woman's Daybook

Friday, January 23, 2015

Our Weekly Amble for January 19-23, 2015

A refreshed and renewed look for our Weekly Reports, Our Weekly Amble will be an opportunity to consider how we've shared with our children as we've walked along the way, how our Ambleside studies have fared, to look back as we consider the pathway we tread.

Our week started out quite well.  We accomplished all the work I had scheduled in plenty of time.  We continue to enjoy Poor Richard and Minn on the Map.  The children are really into this whole weather charting exercise.  They really like the history and science readings.  I was pleased when they put together this week's reading about the founding of New Haven with last week's about the deposing of Charles I. Figuring out that we had actually done a little too much in the first week helped me contain the second week well.  Jason worked from home Monday and Tuesday because he felt miserable. On Tuesday, N-boy and I even worked on our handcraft for January, more on that next week.

I had misread some information and had scheduled around Wednesday for a meeting I thought I had to drive to (it is next Wednesday, boo) with a Circle Time only day.  I didn't feel great when I woke up, so the kids did their pilates without me (we have an older version of the DVD). We did go get haircuts and run to the grocery store. I'm so glad I did because by Wednesday afternoon, I began to feel miserable.  The children did have organ practice and piano lessons.  M-girl had basketball practice.

Thursday would have been our day off anyway, because of my Bible Study. We plan to stop by the library and then to do some Circle Time things in the 30 minute car ride to church on those days.  Also I had planned to listen to a Librivox version of A Midsummer Night's Dream.  Unfortunately, I didn't feel well enough to attend.  N-boy and R-girl did pilates, M-girl felt sick and rested most of the day.

We stayed home and I let the children watch Annie on Netflix instead.  I'd been wanting to let them see it for a while.  My son was not thrilled at first with a "girl movie" but he liked it in the end.  My oldest was very scared when Miss Hannigan, Rooster, and whatshername took Annie.  I do love her tender heart. I was impressed, again, by Carol Burnett's talent - she was amazing in that role! I was shocked to find that the actor who played Daddy Warbucks was the same actor who played Kincade in Skyfall. I did take N-boy to his organ lesson and R-girl to her basketball practice.  It was a long day.

Today we again skipped Circle Time, and I crossed one or two items off their school list - things I would have to talk a lot for, but R-girl and N-boy worked right through their list. Together. Even their piano.  [laughing]  Once they got started, they did a fine job.

So this week has had its ups and downs, but overall it was a good week. The work we did accomplish, I'm pleased with. I'm thankful I had worked around Wednesday for the most part school-wise because we probably wouldn't have accomplished much anyway.  Here's to figuring out how to work the schedule next week without overwhelming us with the amount of work.