Tuesday, August 26, 2008

200th post

I could have come up with something really awesome for my 200th post. But did I?


Why not? Well, if you really must know, it was because I was WASTING TIME this evening and I didn't know that it would be my 200th post (because I don't pay attention to such things). I can't even say that it's because it's the Bookworm King's birthday and I was hanging out with him - though he is right here next to me, fingers blazing on his own keyboard, working on stuff for a seminary class that he has tomorrow afternoon - Happy Birthday, Honey. I was truly wasting time ... being a bookworm.

I was going through the new arrivals at BookCloseOuts and putting anything that we'd love to have (and don't already own) in my cart just to see what the total would be. I don't have the money for all of the things I picked. I went through Children's Fiction and Children's Nonfiction new releases - and that was all.

But I broke my shopping cart. Now it won't load. So, I've wasted time, and now I don't have the list of things I would order if I could - but I can't, so I won't.

And NOW I'm wasting YOUR time with this ridiculous 200th post, so I think I'll stop. May the next 200 be more worthy of your attention.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Relaxed foreign language education

We've been studying Spanish very informally around here. I have been refreshing my memory - in my pre-mom life, I got a bachelor's degree in Spanish, so it's in there somewhere. The Bookworm King speaks some, but not a lot. But we want to teach this to our kids.

While Rosetta Stone's Latin American Spanish is on our wishlist, it is Price-y. We must save many pennies.

So, in the meantime, we are doing what we can. We have both the English version and Spanish translations of our boys' favorite children's books, like Good Night, Moon and The Runaway Bunny, and we want to get more of them - and we will as time flies by. We also have Flip Flop Spanish 1 and the Twin Sisters Productions Spanish Songs on mp3. And these are delightful. The Spanish Songs have a delightful beat and are actually sung over and over. The Flip Flop lessons are simple and short.

We keep the audio files for the past three Flip Flop lessons and two of the Spanish songs (one new, one review) in the Schoolwork playlist on our iPod (along with the current hymn, folk song, composer sample, and some things like "I'm a Little TeaPot" that my toddler does need to recognize and I forget to sing to him. Since we have to drive about 20 minutes to get anywhere we go, we listen to the playlist once a day. We occasionally review vocabulary: counting goldfish in Spanish, naming colors in the room, etc.

You all, you should have see the shock on my mom's face when (2 year old) #3 ran up to hug her and said, "Hi Gramma! Como estas?"

Totally cracked me up.

All by himself....

Tonight, #2 was in my lap after I'd read to him (all 70 pounds of him was curled up on me), and he said, "Mama, I have a secret."
"Can I know it, or is it your secret?"
He said, "Sometimes I read all by myself."
I said, "I know, Bear. I've seen you. That's pretty cool."
"Will you read me one more story, even though I can read?"

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Narration of Charlotte Mason's original works: Volume 5, Section 4

4. Dorothy Elmore's Achievement (in 5 chapters)

In a Nutshell: My Summary
Don't focus on the ugly things of life. Exercise your Will to change your thoughts instead.

My Narration:
Chapter 1
Dorothy Elmore arrives home from school to the delight of her adoring family. She has been gone for two years, and they are all thrilled at her return. She is a beautiful, intelligent, graceful, well-mannered young lady. She is admired by her siblings, and is quite the leader of the family: "...Wherever Dorothy ran––no, she went with a quick noiseless step, but never ran––about the house to find out the old dear nooks, we all followed, a troop of children with their mother in the rear; their father too, if he happened to be in. Truly we were a ridiculous family, and did our best to turn the child's head. Every much has its more-so. Dorothy's two special partisans were Elsie, our girl of fifteen years, fast treading in her sister's steps, and Herbert, our eldest son, soon to go to college. Elsie would come to my room and discourse by the hour, her text being ever, "Dorothy says." And as for Herbs, it was pleasant to see his budding manhood express itself in all sorts of little attentions to his lovely sister" (vol. V, pg. 42-43)

Chapter 2
A month passes - in that month, Dorothy has her own way in everything. There are no disappointments to speak of, and she is consistently pleasant to be with. But then, one day she can't use the family carriage when she would like to, and she gets in a snit about it - she gets all pale and limp. Today, we'd say that she's depressed. And in Christian circles, her selfishness and self-pity would probably be whispered about and never pointed out to her. But her mother senses that something is amiss in Dorothy's heart. A doctor is called, and he prescribes good nutrition and exercise and rest for Dorothy, and the family works to see that it happens. Dorothy is again the center of their attention and sees that they all love her dearly.
" The doctor came; said she wanted tone; advised, not physic, but fresh air, exercise, and early hours. So we all laid ourselves out to obey his directions that day, but with no success to speak of. But the next was one of those glorious February days when every twig is holding itself stiffly in the pride of coming leafage, and the snowdrops in the garden beds lift dainty heads out of the brown earth. The joy of the spring did it. We found her in the breakfast-room, snowdrops at her throat, rosy, beaming, joyous; a greeting, sweet and tender, for each; and never had we known her talk so sparkling, her air so full of dainty freshness. There was no relapse after this sudden cure" (Vol. V, pg. 47).

She comes out of her funk for five weeks before another disappointment sends her into another funk.

Chapter 3
"To make a long story short, this sort of thing went on, at longer or shorter intervals, through all that winter and summer and winter again" (Vol. V pg. 48). Her siblings noticed the pattern before her parents did, and her mother says to her father, "remember how perfectly well and happy she is between these fits of depression?... Each attack of what we hav ecalled 'poorliness' has been a fit of sullenness, lasting sometimes for days, sometimes for more than a week, and passing off as suddenly as it came" (pg. 49-50). At this point in the story, we learn that Mom Elmore knows this behavior of Dorothy's well because she has battled it herself. Dorothy is dwelling on things that didn't go her way and resenting those who did not bow to her desires. We learn that Mom had these same habits until she was finally cured of them by motherhood. Once she was no longer focused on her Self and constantly thinking about how the world wasn't fair to her, she was able to stop having such sulky fits. Dad wants to talk with a doctor-friend of his about the situation before they discuss things with Dorothy.

Chapter 4
"Now, every fault of disposition and temper, though it may have begun in error of the spirit in ourselves or in some ancestor, by the time it becomes a fault of character is a failing of the flesh, and is to be dealt with as such––that is, by appropriate treatment. Observe, I am not speaking of occasional and sudden temptations and falls, or of as sudden impulses towards good, and the reaching of heights undreamed of before. These things are of the spiritual world, and are to be spiritually discerned. But the failing or the virtue which has become habitual to us is flesh of our flesh, and must be treated on that basis whether it is to be uprooted or fostered" (pg. 59). The doctor explains to Mom and Dad that Dorothy has been allowing herself to dwell on the wrong things - offenses, disappointments, what-have-you - until that has become her habit. Now she is thinking about those things for extended periods of time without realizing it, and that is causing her black moods. He tells them that he thinks he has a cure for the problem, and that she'll be her old self within a few months, but he needs to speak to her first.
The cure: "Ignore the sullen humours; let gay life go on as if she was not there, only drawing her into it now and then by an appeal for her opinion, or for her laugh at a joke. Above all, when good manners compel her to look up, let her meet unclouded eyes, full of pleasure in her; for, believe, whatever cause of offence she gives to you, she is far more deeply offensive to herself. And you should do this all the more because, poor girl, the brunt of the battle will fall upon her" (pg. 61).

If they had dealt with the matter long ago, they would have "never have allowed the habit of this sort of feeling to be set up. You should have been on the watch for the outward signs––the same then as now, some degree of pallor, with general limpness of attitude, and more or less dropping of the lips and eyes. The moment one such sign appeared, you should have been at hand to seize the child out of the cloud she was entering, and to let her bask for an hour or two in love and light, forcing her to meet you eye to eye, and to find love and gaiety in yours. Every sullen attack averted is so much against setting up the habit; and habit, as you know, is a chief factor in character"(pg. 61-62).

Chapter 5
The doctor talks to Dorothy, telling her this: "When ill thoughts begin to molest you, turn away your mind with a vigorous turn, and think of something else. I don't mean think good forgiving thoughts, perhaps you are not ready for that yet; but think of something interesting and pleasant; the new dress you must plan, the friend you like best, the book you are reading; best of all, fill heart and mind suddenly with some capital plan for giving pleasure to some poor body whose days are dull. The more exciting the thing you think of, the safer you are. Never mind about fighting the evil thought. This is the one thing you have to do; for this is, perhaps, the sole power the will has. It enables you to change your thoughts; to turn yourself round from gloomy thoughts to cheerful ones. Then you will find that your prayers will be answered, for you will know what to ask for, and will not turn your back on the answer when it comes" (pg. 66).

Friday, August 15, 2008

Weird sleeping arrangements

I just thought I'd tell you that all of my children do have beds. Several of them have more than one.

However, they all prefer to sleep in the same room. And #2 and #3 prefer their Cars blow-up beds to their real mattresses and bedstands. It must be something about Lightning McQueen. I don't know.

But in spite of our having another bedroom with loft-style bunks in it and this little nursery having a comfy twin bed in it, they prefer the floor.

I don't understand it. But maybe, when I was six or when I was two, I would have.

So, for the moment, we're going with it. As long as they stay on their respective beds and s.l.e.e.p. (preferably all night long), it's fine with me.

Expeditionary Learning

Today was the first day of public school in our neck of the woods - so, being the rebels we are, we took the day off (as much as a homeschooler ever does) and went out to play. We went on an expedition to a far-away-but-still-local park and had a fantastic time exploring and learning on the playground.

My brother is doing his internship for his Master's program (we're rather proud of him), and said internship takes place in a school near his university that focuses on "expeditionary learning." Know what that is? Most homeschoolers do. It's a fancy term for "unit study" - the use of one topic across many or all areas of study. We are rather fond of unit studies here - they just seem to happen - so I'll just tell you that we are glad to know that we're riding the crest of the education tidal wave.

ANYWAY... Today, we went to the park. We talked about all kinds of things:
Like nutrition

telling time,
How a backhoe works
balancing a scale
the importance of focusing on what you are doing:

gravity - and whether the heaviest or the lightest slides the fastest
and centrifugal force.

And that was our day at the park.

I'm tired.

And so are my children:

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Fastest Chef in the ... well, in this kitchen

We had a lovely day today. Bookworm #2 was invited to an event with Mimi, so he was off with her for much of the day. #3 and #4 and I went to Target with Gramma. That was great fun. There was actually time to look at things and not just throw necessities in the cart and sprint for the registers.

We had a nice browse and bought some underwear for #3, who is so proud of his recent accomplishment. There is still some issue with the... um... brown... side of things, but he's very capable of keeping dry and getting closer to getting the... um... brown... in the potty every day. He picked out boxer briefs like his big brother wears - some solid boy colors and two pair with Lightning McQueen and Mater on them. He thinks he's big stuff now.

We came home for naptime and then when #2 arrived, we finished up our schoolwork. We've got a field trip planned for tomorrow, so we had two short school sessions today to accommodate those plans. Then I sent all three boys out in the (fenced in) backyard, and I followed shortly. We saw a spider spinning and a dead cicada. We put the cicada in a baggie, and we hope to share it with #2's buddy who is afraid of bugs. It's pretty cool looking. It isn't often that we actually see a cicada - we usually just hear them.

I stepped in the house for a few minutes, amid much protest, believing that I'd join them in a few minutes. I finished a kitchen task while watching them through the window. It was a peaceful moment - kind of the wonder one experiences while watching a circus. Where do they get their energy? I stepped out to the freezer to grab some peas to go with dinner....

and I discovered that the door was open and the freezer well-defrosted. Blessedly, this is the side of the month where it is full of milk and not meat. We just went to the dairy Monday, so it was full and the milk had barely thawed. I left it to refreeze and dealt with the four large (Sam's sized) bags of frozen veggies, two small bags of French fries, and a bag of fish sticks.

I tossed the fish sticks. They had been in the door and were completely thawed. I cooked five pounds of green beans and steamed five pounds of broccoli and microwaved a pound of peas and baked the fries.

Needless to say, we'll be eating our veggies this week. It all came out well. And it was quick - I couldn't believe it when I looked at the clock and realized that I'd cooked 15 pounds of assorted veggies in 32 minutes. Time flies when you're...working hard. I was watching the boys the whole time I worked since I can see most of the backyard from the kitchen. They were having a blast, and #4 was toddling along with the others - just as sandy and muddy as they were. At one point, they were all in our (tiny) sandbox. I couldn't find the camera fast enough to get a shot of it, but I'm sure it will happen again.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

School 2008-2009

School starts this week in our neck of the woods.

Rather uncharacteristically, I still haven't finished planning our school year. There is so much to learn together that I have trouble picking a starting point and running with it. I can tell you some things that we are doing:

Math-U-See Alpha
Ordinary Parent's Guide to Teaching Reading (mostly used loosely as a reference)
Sonlight Science 1
Nature study
Reading - lots of reading - mostly for me, but some for #2, too.

This year, he'll be reading the Old Testament section of The Beginner's Bible and much of The Christian Liberty Nature Reader vol. 1 and some of the readers for Sonlight LA 2 and WinterPromise LA 1.

I'll be reading the Literature, Tales, and Poetry suggested at Ambleside Online, the readings for Sonlight Science (or other books about the same topics, as we have a love/hate relationship with Usborne books.) We'll also do composer and artist study a la Ambleside, and we have our own list of read-alouds that we'd like to work on, too.

History - that's where I'm having trouble. I don't like Ambleside's choices. So, I bought The Story of the World, Vol. 1 - but I just don't know that I want to teach the Ancients before I've taught some basic American history - so I set SOTW aside to start next year. I've looked extensively at My Father's World First Grade (Bible history) and at their Adventures curriculum (American history) - but neither completely fits the bill for our style of education - though Adventures comes really close.

So I decided to write my own - and it has two tracks (Bible and US). We're going to go through The Beginner's Bible one story per week - which will last all year. We'll read the whole story from the Bible, talk about relevant ancient topics (call it Ancients - Light) as they come up, and we'll add Bible characters to our timeline and look up locations on a map (Monday's work, by the way - except for the timeline - that will get stuck together on Friday). On Wednesdays, we'll discuss the American history celebrity of the week, and we'll keep them in chronological order. We'll start with Leif the Lucky and cover Columbus, Pocahontas, Jamestown (place), The Pilgrims, Squanto, Colonial times, Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Paul Revere.... Essentially, one person or location per week on up through American history. I'll post more specific books and such as figure out what on earth we are going to do. We'll do map and timeline work for US history, too. I'll pull some from book lists at WinterPromise and Sonlight and the free American history curriculum that I found online.

And that's the craziness that will be school this year.

There is a basic schedule:
Everyday - Bible reading, prayer, and memory verse, poetry, Spanish
Monday - Math - focus on Bible (intro. Story of week, Beginner's bible, copywork, Narration, mapwork, activity)
Tuesday - shortest day - copywork will be weekly memory verse, read literature selection), Composer study.
Wednesday - Math - focus on American history (intro person of week, US history reader and read-aloud to be determined, copywork, narration, mapwork, activity), nature study and gymnastics (outside of the house
Thursday - short day - Math, Aesop, (copywork, narration, read from Aesop), Picture study and art project
Friday - Math - focus on science (nature reader, copywork/narration from SL science readings, experiment,

That looks like a lot for first grade, doesn't it. Keep in mind that nothing takes longer than 10 minutes, and many things take only five. Some require only listening and take place in the van, thanks to my little friend, the iPod.

I'm going to have to quit thinking here for tonight because my computer's about to fall asleep and require a good long recharge. I'll have to come edit this and make it more coherent - maybe - unless I just don't and instead decide to publish what we're up to as we go along. I really want to keep a record of our schooling on the blog for easy reference. We'll see.

Monday, August 11, 2008

A day... a pretty good day...

I don't have a lot of brain power left - and I have a lot of work left to do, so this will be short and sweet - and is really just so that I do post SOMETHING and don't toss the habit of blogging to the wind quickly.

We spent the day with the Bookworm King home with us - he took a day off to help our family and house recover from a week of him being away. He let me sleep in this morning, and that was wonderful. We had school - we're still working up to a full schedule - I think we'll be there next week. And we did some errands.

This evening, I had the chance to meet some old friends at The Cheesecake Factory for dinner and dessert. I ate way too much. But it was yummy.

I noticed a lady in the back of the restaurant where it was fairly quiet. She wearing plain black pants and a nice-but-comfortable shirt, and she was meditatively enjoying a piece of cheesecake all by herself. I hope she was a mom who just went out by herself for a minute to gain some perspective. At a glance, that is what she appeared to be.

I would really like to do that - spend some time by myself and get things together. I wonder if I can make that happen. I don't know that my afternoon would include a piece of cheesecake, but I would really like to take a couple of hours to set some goals for the school year. I wouldn't even have to be completely alone. Maybe the King and I should hire a babysitter and spend an afternoon sitting together working on our projects. I'd love to have his input on setting school goals.

Now, there's a fly buzzing me and I need to get the dishwasher loaded and go to bed.

Narration: Bible - Tower of Babel

First, they had to build the Tower of Babel. God did not want it there so He changed their languages so that they couldn't understand each other. So they stopped building the tower, and they all moved to different lands.

By Bookworm #2 - 08/11/2008

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Because I am ThoughtfulMom: A public service announcement

I've been thinking. It seems like I haven't done that in a while. Thought - really thought - about anything for long enough to be able to write it down.

So, I'm going to make an effort to write again. Not just newsy family stuff but about the things I'm pondering. Because I'm always pondering something. I ask almost as many questions as #3, and that's definitely saying something.

So, hopefully in the near future (starting tonight, but we'll see how long it lasts), you may find posts here that are more thoughtful and less newsy mixed in with the pictures and bulletins about life in the Bookworm's Backyard and education in the Backyard Academy for Bookworm Boys. You might find true randomness - or your might find my thoughts on the Bible, Charlotte Mason's work, or whatever I'm currently reading. Like I want to write a review of That Printer of Udell's, and one of The Hidden Hand when I finish it. I've been in so-much-to-say-and-no-time-to-say-it mode for so long that my brain is on overload.

But for now, I'm tired, and I need to sleep - though I have an odd craving for a peanut butter and honey sandwich. Guess I'll have that for breakfast.

To think on: Why did she run away?

The Samaritan woman at the well in John 4 met with Jesus, and then she ran away to the nearby town, where she became quite the evangelist. I have been pondering what her reason was for running away. This is something we discussed at our small-group meeting this evening as we were pondering different steps in the growth of newly-planted churches (yeah - we jump topics a lot)

Here are two reasons we came up with as a group with one of my own added:
1. She was so excited that she met the Messiah that she had to go tell others.
2. She was hurt because the disciples treated her like the loose woman she had been instead of the free woman she had just become, and she ran away in embarrassment.
3. She felt the weight of her sin and couldn't stand in front of the Messiah a second longer - she ran away when she was struck by the comparison of her sin with His Majesty.

I really think any of these are possible.
Why she ran away doesn't matter as much as the fact that she did. In her running, she was able to tell others (other loose women? those "husbands?") who she had met and bring the whole town back with her.

Beth Moore says, "When you feel like your own mistakes added insult to injury in your circumstances, you're more prone to hang your head in prayer than to lift it in full expectation of God's forgiveness and full redemption" (Stepping Up, pg. 126). The Samaritan woman didn't come to the well expecting anything except some water to use for washing clothes or cleaning dishes or making lunch. All she was planning to do was her job - and all she expected to get from her trip the the well was the fruit of her labor. But she met Jesus. And like so many others, she got more than she bargained for.

She was washed clean. Praise God for His reviving, Living Water.

To think on: Am I doing enough? (Heaven and Hell)

Charles Peace was a British criminal who was about to receive the death penalty for his crimes. The chaplain came to speak to him - to see if he wanted to receive salvation before his death - and to tell him about heaven and hell. This is what Charles Peace had to say in reply:

"If I believed what you and the church of God say that you believe, even if England were covered with broken glass from coast to coast, I would walk over it, if need be on hands and knees, and think it worthwhile living just to save ONE soul from an eternal hell like that."

My thoughts: I do believe in heaven and in hell. Heaven is a place of joy and bounty and blessing - and hell is a place of darkness and agony and torment.

It's easy to believe in heaven. We die, our soul separates from our bodies, and we walk through the pearly gates to be reunited with those who have gone before us and, more importantly, to finally see the face of Jesus.

It's hard to believe in hell. To believe that those who do not choose Christ are choosing to be tortured in the dark for all eternity. But the Bible is very clear on the matter: Hell was created to punish satan and his angels - and those who choose to reject Christ wind up there too. That is NOT God's plan for any of us - He plans for everyone on earth to choose to follow Him and to be with Him in heaven one day. The choice is ours.

But do I live like I believe in hell? Do I speak out when the opportunity arises to persuade another person to follow Christ? Do I pray for my unbelieving friends and family members? What am I doing to help populate heaven?

(By the way, the current sermon series at LifeChurch.tv is "So You're Dead...Now What?" and it explores what the Bible has to say about heaven and hell. Check it out at Lifechurch.tv.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Narration: Noah's Ark

Noah built an ark. And then he invited every animal on there. Then God shut the door, and the flood came. The ark was floating. Noah's family looked at their food and watched every movement of their lamps, but they were safe. Later, they sent a dove out, but it came back because there was nowhere to put its feet. The next time, it brought back a leaf. The third time, it landed on a tree and did not return to the ark. It was time to leave the ark. The ark was on a hill when they got out. The earth was all dried up. They worshiped God. God showed them a rainbow and promised He would never send a flood again.

by Bookworm #2, 08/08/2008

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Some days just don't turn out like you think they will

And today was one of those days.

It started out great - with all things going according to plan - and I love it when what we expect to happen is what happens. We went on a playdate. We went to my mom's to hang out, and the boys stayed with her for a few minutes while I went to meet up with a friend that I haven't seen in a while because she lives far away. We had a lovely time walking around an outdoor mall. I found a pair of capris (that fit! - I now have pants that fit!) on a sale rack at J.Jill. I picked up the kids and came home.

And when I walked in the door, it was really, really warm in here. And it should haven't been warm because the thermostat was set at 76 degrees. And the thermometer in the house read 82. I was less than pleased. I was downright cranky.

I called my dad - he's an AC guy. I answered his questions. And I have to admit that I snapped at him - and that wasn't necessary. I was operating in my flesh - quite obviously - but he came over with his equipment anyway and took a look.

Our air-conditioner is dead. May it rest in peace.

I shed some tears over that.

But my dad has some connections that will make a replacement affordable. And that is a blessing.

And it will be fixed tomorrow. Hallelujah!

But for tonight - it's rather warm around here. I put all three boys to bed in my room because it has a ceiling fan. #4's back in the crib in our room - and #2 and #3 have pallets on the floor. And I'm sitting at the kitchen table writing this and watching a movie on my computer so that I can keep the windows open a little while longer before I close them and go to sleep. Another blessing in all this - it was only in the 80s here today after a week of seeing temperatures over 100 degrees. So, it's not nearly as warm in here as it could have been. Plus, we have air-conditioning in the first place - most people in the world sleep in the heat nightly.

But Mommy....

Today at Gramma's snack table:

Let me preface this by telling you that this week, #3, who is two and a few months, decided that he is ready to learn the potty, and I've been trying to help him be successful in that.

Conversation going on around the table. About an hour and a half since #3's last trip to the potty.

Break in conversation.

"#3," I say, "it's time to go try to potty."

And he looks very seriously at me and tells me, "But Mommy, I'm having a conberfation about Popsy's car."

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Because they are cute....

#4 was so noisy about falling asleep that he woke up #3, who came to lay down and listen to #2's stories.

And when the story was over, I shut the book and went to kiss them good night, and I had the privilege of seeing this:

Monday, August 4, 2008

Our day in pictures

We ran an errand. We painted. We read. We played. We did everything we could think of without going outside for more than a few minutes at a time because it was about 147 degrees and 9000% humidity in our corner of the prairie.

#4 showing off his new-found climbing skills. He's fallen off this chair and whacked his chin on the table every day for the past four days, in spite of our preventative measures. We're working on new measures.

The aforementioned painting project - washable acrylics and sea sponges. It was great fun for all. Gramma played too. Art is fun!

A predicament that #3 got himself into this morning. No children or vehicles were harmed in the process of snapping this picture.