Monday, December 8, 2008

Morning Time Readings...

We had a nice slow and lazy 'Morning Time' today. Here are the books and poems we enjoyed together...

The Children's Orthodox Bible- Finding a Wife for Isaac

Saint Innocent of Alaska- a few chapters

The Story of Icons- what an amazing book, so engaging and informative. We read about the 'War of the Icons' today.

The Wheel on the School

The Harp and Laurel Wreath- two poems from the Rhetoric section with the questions. Discussed alliteration again.

Read a paragraph about Storks from our animal book (The Wheel on the School is about storks)

Beyond the Sea of Ice: The Voyages of Henry Hudson- we read about the Third Voyage. This is a great, informative picture book that we can all access.

East of the Sun and West of the Moon (D'Aulaire)- we read The Princess on the Glass Mountain, another story of the humble hero Cinderlad (no blood in this one though).

Now it is off to get dressed, tidy up and look towards lunch. It was a lovely morning and the children kept themselves busy while I read- first with breakfast, then Ar and Aa played lego and built some great ships, H. finished painting her still life (a Christmas present for Nana) and started working on her Lord of the Rings crosstich, and Caleb painted a great canvas complete with mountains, lightening , a storm, and a lush green valley (possible prompted by our many rememberings of our home in the mountains!).

Good day to you all!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

I was reading on Willa's blog and thought I would try this blog analysis....I would call it sort of accurate. I think I was much more this way pre kids.

ISTP - The Mechanics

The independent and problem-solving type. They are especially attuned to the demands of the moment are masters of responding to challenges that arise spontaneously. They generally prefer to think things out for themselves and often avoid inter-personal conflicts.

The Mechanics enjoy working together with other independent and highly skilled people and often like seek fun and action both in their work and personal life. They enjoy adventure and risk such as in driving race cars or working as policemen and firefighters.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The Nativity Fast...

Tomorrow begins the feast of the Nativity.

As our family makes this transition to Orthodoxy this will be the first major fast we will go through together, with the children doing what they can.

I am so grateful for the loving guidance we have had, and continue to have, in this process.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Things I Love

My family~God~the ocean~the mountains~moss~tall trees~lots of oxygen~rushing streams~clean floors~freshly baked bread~balls of new wool~a new book~an old favourite book~fresh sheets off the line~creativity in it's many forms~family meals~simple foods~comfort foods~dark chocolate~books in bed at night~reading aloud to my children~watercolor painting~folk music~friends~jars of canning~vegetable gardening~a basket of fresh veggies~a newly organized space~going through papers and bringing order~sun shining on wood~children reading~children playing~margin~walks~quiet times~prayer~movies with my husband~knitting~tea~an afghan on a cool winter day~the seasons~eighties music with friends~Ultimate~Art~poetry~Natural History~shovelling~ironing~baking~Indian food

Thanks to Susan for the idea.....(this was my off the top of my head list)

Monday, November 10, 2008

On Develping a Writer...

A Wonderful article, once again, from Bravewriter.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Also Enjoying.....

I, Juan de Pareja

We REALLY enjoyed reading this book- I would put it on our favourites list, right alongside Number the Stars, The Lord of the Rings (well, not quite up that high!), A Single Shard, and Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze.

It was a beautiful story, very vividly descriptive without being wordy. Actually, I think that is what so many of the books I had listed above share: The ability to express simply, but richly, the authors intent; to paint a picture of both setting and the traits of the characters. Now Tolkien is a fabulous crafter of words, and he can pull of using ten words where one might work. However, I find that many authors believe that the more descriptive words you add the better- heap them on. It reminds me of the same themes we find in the homeschool writing world, and I am the first to admit that they both turn me off. But back to the review..

This tale is told from the standpoint of the servant/slave of Velazquez. From the first page this endeared us to the story- how often do we hear history, albeit historical fiction, expressed from the view of it's most trodden upon persons. As the story unfolds we are brought into the world of Michaelangelo, of the Rennaisance, into the courts of Spain, and into the friendship of Velazquez and his servant Juan.

We had read many exciting books leading up to this so at first the pace took some getting used to for the children. Action packed would be a poor description for this book. Thoughtful, descriptive, and at times both emotional and challenging would be better terms to describe it. All four children listened in and were quite still during the reading aloud. This story is one that will definitely stay with all of us.

How many stars then??
Ariel ***** out of 5
Hannah **** out of 5
Mom ****1/2 out of 5

Juan de Pareja, painted by Diego Velazquez

ps sorry for the multiple posts! I was working out the picture sizing.

Presently Enjoying....


The Wheel on the School
East of the Sun and West of the Moon- like reading fairy tales with extra gore
The Return of the King
Winnie the Pooh (myself with the two younger boys)
The Story of the World 2
Lamb's Shakespeare


Bullfinch's Age of Fable
The Story of Art
A Little History of the World
Fabre's Insects (Wasps)
The Wouldbegoods
And many, many, more (oh, to have all those hours for reading!)


Mary- Demi
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkhaban
The Turning- historical fiction dealing with a ballerina in communist Russia


The Hobbit
Summer of the Sea Serpent


The Foot Book
Hop on Pop
I Can Read With My Eyes Shut


Jane Eyre


Father Seraphim Rose- His Life and Works (as well as a gigantic stack too numerous to post!)

Monday, October 27, 2008

Slaughtered Gauls and all that....

We were doing a translation exercise out loud today from our Latin text and I must admit that Ar. and Hannah are doing great-they have left me in the dust for sure!

We always have such a hoot with the translation exercises- those poor Gauls are always getting slaughtered (one of our new verbs from the last vocab. list). I guess this little village of indomitable Gauls won't figure into our exercises anytime soon!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hi, I'm Kristie...and I am an Introvert

This week seemed like a literal flurry of outside the home activity- ballet class, 'the' ballet, swim lessons, play dates, whole family over to the friends afternoon dates, knitting etc. By the time we arrived home this afternoon, after spending such a lovely afternoon with a new friend and her two daughters, I felt completely frazzled. Then I was immediately invited to a movie with a friend (this I could do!) and then reminded by my husband that tonight I was going to go to a new study with the Orthodox church we have begun attending. Ahem...

Now, fast forward about 1 hour, the children are happily engaged in various pursuits and I have had time to come in, grab a snack and put dinner on in peace. I am beginning to feel rejuvenated. When it is that I have become more of an introvert who knows? I thrive on outings with my little group of friends, with homeschool get-togethers, potlucks, and late night Ultimate games. But too much of that leaves me frazzled- almost like I have lost my bearings.

I have also noticed this with my children. They enjoy going out and hanging out with friends, going to the pool, and being in the bigger scene. But I know after this week that they feel cheated if we are having too many meals on the run, if their down time, the time where they create, think, sit, and become refreshed, is seriously compromised. It all seems to point back to that elusive thing called Balance: Living a full and Rich life with lots of room for margin.

I am not saying I have arrived in this department. The whole world (definitely including the homeschooling world- my how those homeschoolers are busy) is screaming at us to be busy, to buy, to produce, to consume, to better ourselves, to become more cultured, more intelligant, more useful, ad infinitum. And I feel like one of my top 5, or possibly one of my top 3, things I work at daily, day in day out, is to protect jelously this balance. It is like I am the scale and when I am working diligantly at reading my children, noting our family routines and family culture, that scale is balancing out nicely and we are more refreshed and can handle the ups and downs of our days. But when I am sitting with my nose to the screen too much, dwelling too much on what we are or aren't doing, comparing (ouch) our beautiful family to some virtual family, losing touch with my first job, that scale goes all wonky. I would go farther to say that without prayer that the scale is almost impossible for me to bring to balance.

So this whole thing takes courage- but I believe that it is a work well worth it.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Night With Neil....

Thanks honey...

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

A Little Break...

Too many hours in front of the screen
Too many good moments of great weather to waste them
Lots of good times to spend with family on hubbie's holidays that begin now!....

See you in September!!


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Jean Francois Millet


One child with Nemo + One child at a friends + Two children with an audio book and the craft supplies + a mom with her face not in a screen but with a pencil and paper in her hands = a nice list of saints books, good literature, living history books, geology and ornithology books, an abundance of possible writing topics for the children, poetry book found, classical cds in order, first read aloud chosen with lots more lined up, and the art prints saved in my pictures. I feel great.... I have a great bunch of books, a rhythm we like to work with that mixes the best of some skill practice, a generous palette, and lots of real life, and a cozy (computerless!) evening with Taran Wanderer (our present book we are enjoying together) before us.

Hey, thanks Theresa for a bit of a reality check...

Back and Forth and Around in a Circle

Hmmmm, are my plans ready?

A few sets have been drafted, expanded upon, simplified, ditched, and recreated again! I seem to enjoy the part of planning called researching but am fairly weak on the areas of decision making and follow through...

lots of research - lack of decision- lack of follow through = lots of face glued to screen, some enjoyment, lots of new blogs to visit, and unfortunately generous amounts of wasted time.

Will have to remedy this....

On a better note: Ann has reminded us to look after our souls. To put aside those curriculum catalogues (in my place that reads computer) and to plan for how to nourish our souls and fire ourselves as teachers and mothers....

Homeschool Planning (Enthusiasm)

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Another thought worth thinking on....

Julie from Bravewriter writes...

But homeschooling is more about creating a context for nurturing and leadership, emotional security, understanding what stage of development your child is in (field position), and intellectual prowess (aptitude to match the tasks set before the child). Positive outcomes are a result of not just positive expectations on the part of the parent, but on the part of the child. A child’s sense of progress comes from increasing competence in each skill-based area. These are the habits of education that you help cultivate through enthusiasm, routine, level-appropriate lessons and a lifestyle of emotional nurturing.

Consistent learning is the result of a happy environment, reasonable expectations, and habits that are not burdensome or tedious.

At this point the article goes on to talk about how to evaluate your homeschool. She talks about looking at the child's developmental stage, where that child is at, whether that is 'ahead or behind', and to meet that child where they are. Slowing down or covering already covered ground, or challenging them with harder work so that they don't slip into boredom. Next she discusses the environment of the home...

What is the emotional temperature of your home? Are children free to share their real reactions, feelings and ideas? Can they openly state that they are bored, that their work is too hard, that they are too tired from a late night to concentrate? Likewise, do you bring a cheerful, realistic, supportive person to the table when you start the day? Are you undistracted and available to help, support and applaud the work that your kids do?

She concludes by talking about habits.

For me, these are all things I feel strongly about- when asked about homeschooling one thing I often mention is the beauty I have of moving at a child's own pace. But little do the people whom I am talking to know that inside me is that little voice that is comparing and trying to either catch them up or push them ahead. Granted, most of that never reaches the children as far as workload goes, but it can sure mess with Julie's next point: Atmosphere. Nothing wrecks a good atmosphere like highblown expectations and a distracted, uneasy mother.

I want to conclude with this Charlotte Mason quote...

Education is an Atmosphere, a Discipline, a Life.

The Joys of Homelearning

Ann writes.........

The finest home education flows from a well-lived life.

+ + +

:: family relationships :: prayer :: music :: nature :: baking ::

:: unhurried meals :: flowers :: laughter :: art :: hikes :: conversation ::

:: thoughtful reading :: sunrise :: tea time :: down time :: play ::

:: worship and sacrament :: helping others :: friendships :: fitness :: writing ::

:: a comfortable home :: celebrations :: gratitude ::

:: joy in the ordinary ::

I loved reading this has helped me to put our educational goals within the context of our family life, and to ponder what is lovely and what is beautiful about that life. It has also inspired me to build those routines in again when summer wanes, the routines that allow for the all the wonderful parts of living this life together.

Some great posts from What I Know Now

Religion's Reality

Opening Day Traditions
....I think this will be plachintas on our 'first' day. Oh, and heap on the homemade applesauce and strawberry jam!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Some good 'real books' science

Note to self....

There are some great lists of books about germs, electricity, weather etc. here. They would make some great whole family reading and jumping off places!!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Planning Update


Back to keeping it simple with heaps of books, some good art prints, that tape I picked up for free at garage sale of Vivaldi, and lots of real life together.

A couple great things that emerged from my planning bonanza are...
  • lots of great lists of books (much needed for my son who devours books)
  • the realization that I only need to purchase one book for next year
  • a simple system for me
  • seeing that Sonlights year 7 and 300 could be mixed together to give Ariel heaps of great reading and lots of good read alouds for us and discussions
  • realizing that the older two are missing having more historical type read alouds and are not big on the grand overviews at the moment (ditto with that here!)
So today I did lots of cleaning, spent time in the garden, puttered (one of my favourite summer past times), and read the children lots of books. It was a very good day, and now it is off to bed to read Scarlet (after much urging from Ar.!).

Hope this finds you enjoying your summer.

Picture Book Bonanza!

Two weeks ago I decided that we needed to branch out in the picture book area- I had read enough Tintin and Asterix to be a bit of a household authority on the subjects! So I went and picked up around 50 great books with the kids....picture books we could all enjoy. I put them in big baskets in the living room and they are being looked at and read consistently with lots of enjoyment.

Some of the ones we have been enjoying..

One Grain of Rice- Demi
The Stonecutter- Mc Dermott
The Kitchen Knight- Hodges
Comus- Hodges
Clown of God (looooove this one)- de Paolo
Fin M'Coul- de Paolo
Jamie O'Rourke and the Big Potato- de Paolo
Hansel and Gretel- illustrated by Adrienne Adams
Saint Ciaran- Schmidt
The Emperor's New Clothes-Demi
The Magic Tapestry-Demi

I love how a well written picture book can bring all the children crowding into the couch to listen....even my teenager!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Simple Woman's Daybook- July 9th

Please visit Peggy's for all the daybook links....

Outside My Window... a quiet and cool evening- a wonderful thing in the middle of the summer. Tomatoes are growing and coriander is blooming. Lots of tasty greens for salad.

I am thinking...about how wonderful it will be to see Hannah on Friday when she arrives home from camp.

I am thankful for... my great son, Ariel.

From the kitchen...mixed green salad from my garden: beet greens, mizuna, red leaf lettuce, romaine and buttercrunch!

I am wearing... an olive green tee, faded jeans with a 'scarf' belt, bare feet, and my hair down so it can dry!

I am creating... a dishcloth, a pair of socks, and a binder with my different menus and such in it.

I am going... to Folk Fest this weekend, sans children.

I am reading... Hood by Stephen Lawhead

I am hoping... to go to bed very soon.

I am hearing... the hum of the computer. It is very quiet down here. Our turn of the century house has no opening windows on the main floor and I've shut the storm door for the night.

Around the house... loads of picture books. We went to the library yesterday and picked out around 50 picture books. All but 2 from the folk tale/fairy tale section. My boys have been on a Tin Tin and Asterix kick for months and I wanted some variety.

One of my favorite things... reading in bed with a cup of tea (and a piece of homemade buttered toast!)

A Few Plans For The Rest Of The Week: Hannah's arrival, dusting and cleaning the kitchen windows, packing, relaxing with my knitting at folk festival.

Here is picture thought I am sharing... (my camera's batteries are dead, again, so here is an old shot...)

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Update on that computer like thingy...

Yesterday I lugged our big tv up from the cellar again. I just seem to have this aversion to it in our living room. It was a gift, but a bit too large for the space. I also have my on again off again hangups with television in general. So it gets lugged up and down this narrow set of stairs in our turn of the century house (it's actually surprising I haven't permanently damaged my body lugging it around!).

Anyhow, I set it up in our hot sweaty house for a little Planet Earth for my kids and the kids I was looking after for the night. I hadn't hurt myself in that last trip up the stairs but the tv hadn't faired so well. When I turned it on it flashed alot then the picture just went.

I would like to say I am upset but it would be a little far from the truth!

Back to watching movies on the computer (the screen may be smaller but the sound is way better!).

Thinking on...

Less is more- school planning

It was good to read some of the articles Kim linked to. I must admit that I didn't resonate with heaps some of them said, but I pulled out some very helpful nuggets that have sharpened my focus and brought some simplicity to my planning.

Some of these would be:
  • Self teaching: as much as we have loved our all together time, I saw a lot last year that it needed to take a different shape. The age range is greater than when I just had the older two and it was starting to not work as smoothly. As well, Ar. is ready to really dig in more on his own and seems to prefer this. So, to borrow a term from Cindy at Dominion Family, we will have small Morning Times to enjoy some of those things together like artist study, poetry memorization (kids LOVE this), bible reading, literature, Shakespeare etc. We will still cover some history together but Ar. will do another stream as well (maybe H. as well).
  • Stick to the basics! Focus on those and the beauty that comes from the Morning Time themes. Read lots together and alone!
  • Include drawing and painting more in our days. The children used to illustrate a number of their narrations but it has slipped as more children have been added to the mix
  • Focus on a generous palate in all years, but in the early years (this would include my two youngest) don't worry about chronology or grand schemes. Pile the books up, all sorts, especially good picture books (think Diane Stanley or Demi), and start reading. There are plenty of years to work out the specific chronology.
  • Short lessons!
  • Lots of time outside- has to be a priority, especially in the September to January bracket (as it is just too darn cold here in the latter parts of the winter to do anything)
  • Simplify our outings. Is a child screaming for a new class/lesson/activity? If not, then reasses whether it meets your goals or how it melds with the rest of your life.
  • What are the needed areas of focus for each child? How can I best meet those needs?
I really appreciated Kim's focus here....
School planning is in full force here. It is actually far less planning and more refocusing. We know what our vision is. We know what we love and what we don't. We know what works. This season is less one of decision and more one of prayerful consideration of what challenges the new year will bring, individually and collectively, and how best to meet them.

I have also been enjoying the forms for housekeeping on this post (tried the one for emergency quick clean today and it worked smoothly)

The Home Management Journal- Housekeeping forms/lists

I should sign off now. The computer has become a wee bit of a monster for me as of late....of to read some Asterix.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Heard today at my house...

Mom: No computer games today Aaron. It is a no computer day (for kids I guess!)

Caleb: What is that other thing that is like a computer that we watch movies on?

Me: A tv?

Caleb: Yeah, none of that either eh?

Monday, June 16, 2008


At this point I think we would do well with some goals for next year and in that vein I have begun some focused planning and much too much of the unfocused type (the type that fills up headspace but gets you nowhere).

Willa has one form here which I really like the flow of. So much so that I think I will plug in my own things under her headings. For me forms have to be appealing to look at and visually work with my brain. This one does.

Next step: filling it in.

The Return of the King

We are at the Paths of the Dead... loving this again.

My Reading on Writing

Since the Well Trained Mind came out I have balked at the whole idea: it looked too overwhelming, too structured, too much, and so on. Even the Story of the World books, that my kids do enjoy, I have sort of avoided. I think it is the idea that my 6-9 year olds need some sort of in depth chronological history study. Yes, I am opinionated. (I think that there are way better ways for that age group to spend their time.)

That said, somehow I linked over to the WTM boards and found out that Susan Wise Bauer is writing a series of books on the topic of writing.

I downloaded a sample that outlines that three stages of a writer. I went in thinking it would be all complicated and drudgerous but came out agreeing with a lot of what she wrote and appreciating the simplicity of which it was set forward.

The Three Stages

Monday, June 9, 2008

Ideas for nature study composition...

Meredith has had her kids building biomes and researching them after enjoying Planet Earth. We own the series and are great fans so this might be fun.

(#1 for the writing file!)


Today was such a nice day- full of rain. We miss rain since leaving the rain forest and moving to the prairies. The garden is green, the walk is clean, and we had a nice slow day. That is one thing I love about this life of being home with my children. Amidst the busyness of spring soccer, ballet recitals, and such, we can start the day off slowly. Breakfast was a nice relaxed affair that finished around 10:30 or 11 with Papa being able to join in as he was working from home this morning. We had a good talk about communion and how partaking in the body and blood of Christ nourishes our souls and brings us in to full communion with Him.

Some math was done, some Latin translations, and a heap of history read as well as some other books. Ar took the two younger boys to the library in the rain (hey, for us west coasters we figured it was just a drizzle) and then we sort of drifted off into our own spaces for a bit.

This evening was nice and slow too- soccer was canceled and I must admit I am not too crestfallen. We had a leisurely supper that we could all sit down to together and enjoy and there was still time for The Return of the King with Papa before he left for a meeting.

I have been beginning to open my planning eyes a little bit more lately and have found this article a good read and a good think

Can we stop talking about curriculum...

This part of the post really spoke to me

Let’s talk about how you are living the dream - the life that you always wanted with your children. Wordly Wise is not living the dream. Buy it or not but don’t waste another second of your precious life deciding if you want a $7.60 workbook. Don’t use up your valuable free time (time you could spend drinking margaritas with a friend or playing Zooreka with your 5 year old) talking about math endlessly. Pick a math book and use it. Get help if you don’t understand it. If it rises to the level of crisis (Math. Isn’t. Working!), then by all means devote time to finding a solution online.

I have wasted so much of that time in the past and still waste it so much. Where on earth did that closet perfectionist come from in me that wants it all to work SO well- for us to have the CM/unschooling/delight driven yada, yada, yada perfect scene. Then there is the not so in the closet organizationally challenged me that is not too good at following through on the things I do decide on. Now, I am not saying at all that it is this black and white. We do some great stuff around here and if I could pick one way or the other I would have to pick the track of not following through completely vs. slaving away to some set way in the face of my children's eyes glazing and our joy sapping away.

So what is one to do with this conviction- that yes it is good to do some research but A. It is way more profitable when the research leads somewhere B. I don't over research into oblivion C. That all of this takes time and even though I enjoy researching different methods, seeking out book gems, reading thought provoking blogs, it all has to fall into a balance. If my 5 year old is taking back seat (ouch!) than I better turn the computer off and turn to focus on the real goods of living this full life with the ones I love around me.

So I will be looking for balance over the next weeks as I make some plans for our year to come. I see that my time spent on this, in order to be fruitful and economical, will need to be cconducted in a more structured way than it has in the past. I have my three catagories I have been thinking on since the last post as well as some specifics that I will put on my list;

Poems (a cache of poems to pull from if stuck for memorizing- my dd LOVES this)

Essay topics (a store of these too to pull from when needed)

Writing in general (a bit of an outline to make some simple goals for each child. Also, I would like to look over some of the writing they have done this year. Resources: Bravewriter, The Writer's Jungle, DYOCC, book on the Progymnasta, and especially ideas from their writing from this year- what they enjoyed, areas of strength etc.)

Book lists
-a big list to keep Ariel in books this year (good luck- that kid reads them faster than we can find them!)
-some new historical fiction to brighten our days (the kids are kind of tired of the history 'spine' type books we have been using along our novels....
-a history, natural history, lit. , and biography list for Ar. with lots of possible options
-some non-fiction reads for H. and C. that will break them in slowly
-a great list of picture books for us all to enjoy that I can use to order books to the quaint library down the block
-beginner list for Aa.

Grammar topics that link to Henle

A workbook creation for Henle (did this for part of this year and it worked great)

Oh my this list seems long. Not a good format for my tired eyes. I will have to look at it with fresh eyes tomorrow.

I am rereading some Charlotte Mason stuff and want to see how to make sure more of the things we love about her approach happen next year. My dd loves it all but the boys aren't too sure. That is another thing as the kids grow- my group teaching method for some of this has to change. How to make those changes, work with my kids distinct learning styles, and stay sane? Keeping things simple, but adding in the beauty of art and music, and saturating it with living books has always been my answer here. But I am going to look for ways to individualize things amidst this.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Spring thoughts...

Life has been busy around here- good, but busy. Soccer is in full swing, swimming is wrapping up and dance is officially done tomorrow.

One post I have enjoyed today in between lawn mowing and dinner is this one from Willa:

Time to Breathe

The title caught me, especially as our life has seemed to have a bit of an absence of that breathing space as of late.

As a mother here at home with my kids, I have been seeing that one of the big areas I am always trying to guard in our life is 'margin'- that space that allows my children to think, discover, grow, breathe, and just be. It is no small feat in this busy world, especially at times among 'busy homeschoolers'! But without this time I see how our lives can lose their anchor: with God, with each other, and with ourselves.

So as I go about planning for next year this 'breathing space' is going to be in the forefront of my mind.

While reading Willa's post I found myself pondering this line...

I find it easier to have things thought out ahead of time, and be flexible about the approach. I should remind myself though, now, that I am trying to structure things minimally

I don't tend to plan things out ahead of time to well- I research heaps, have lots of fuzzy ideas, even some well written out goals, but they seem to get overlooked all year. The unschooler in me balks at them. However, my slow brain has realized how helpful it would be for us to have some skeletal plans, some goals I look back at. Otherwise our tides can be overfull, or sorely sluggish, without me having much of an anchor. I am seeing how these simple plans would give me enough of an anchor that as we wander off on our adventures, work at our lessons, and live our lives, I would be able to keep grounded.

I also appreciated how she looked at the three focal areas; disciplina, discovery, and basic life skills. It reminds me of the book I read years ago by Clay and Sally Clarkson, Educating The Wholehearted Child. Enjoying all the scientific diagrams from my science years in University, I think I could use these three categories to give myself a good visual for the year to come.

As I am singing Willa's praise, I can also give her a hat tip for this idea as well: to keep a notebook this summer where I can journal about my children- how they are spending their time, what interests they are developing.... the skies the limit!

With these ideas percolating in my brain I am excited for a summer of intentional planning for next year and lots of margin and joy.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Boys with Books

The Rhythm of Spring

Spring seems to have come for good now to this neck of the woods. My hands are cracked and full of earthen lines.... I am happy. The garden is shaping up and I am waiting somewhat impatiently for the tree to be limbed and I can put out the vibrant seedlings growing in the window.

Today was one of those days that seem to come naturally in the spring. I had thoughts to do a sort of intensive finish in our present areas of study to finish up our time before summer, but our family rhythm wasn't in the same groove.

So today we woke sort of lazily after a late night at the soccer field. Aaron, Caleb and I snuggled for a good read of Tintin first thing. Breakfast was had and Ar read to us from the Bible. We informally talked about Diego Rivera (his art! not about nitty gritty of his life!) and I pulled out Caleb's violin. He practiced while I cleaned up and kids were off getting ready etc. Hannah had already created a neat sign of congratulations for Bilbo, Caleb's caterpillar (he successfully attached to the top of his jar in readiness for his chrysalis). After some more music practices Ariel was on the Gutenburg Project reading a novel while Hannah was hanging laundry with Caleb. (I was I think by this time distracted looking at more fuel efficient cars on the computer- our minivan is terrible on gas).

Hannah's hair needed doing for her first feis so we got out all the gear, boys all went out for a croquet match and to string up a large spider's web with old yarn, and got going on the hair. We figured out how to download Inkheart from our library so we listened to that for the last hour of the curling.

At some point I made some lunch and we ate it out on the deck while I read out of some field guides about caterpillars. All the kids were pretty interested as we have about 16 caterpillars at present.

Hannah then went off to continue on with her pond building and found a caterpillar that we didn't recognize. Onto google to look it up but with no luck. Hannah and I continued to work on the veggie garden, dig and chat while Ariel played lego inside with the two younger boys.

Dinner (Ariel's now on the weekly rotation and he did a great job- we needed some new juice in the menu department as my mind always wanders to the garden these days and not to the kitchen!).....then onto my Ultimate game. Lots of Redwall on tape both ways, and home for a late bedtime.

This is probably pretty dull reading for any of you but I have been in a wee bit of an attitude rut and I wanted this day to be my reminder of the joy that comes from being home with my out our day to day lives....working...praying...and being together.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Definitely Silly...

Which Fantasy/SciFi Character Are You?

Thanks to Theresa.

The 'Golden Mean'

I think our society tends towards a dichotomy -- XTreme precautions, to the point that you can't buy a real chemistry set anymore and laws are being proposed to restrict fast food; and on the other hand, simple neglect or indifference to a toxic environment. Everyone has to find their own balance for their own family and children. But there is a golden mean between any two extremes, and it seems to me that children learn more about risk by learning to handle it to some extent according to their maturity than by being kept from it altogether.

When I read this tonight I went Yes! with a capital y. Just this month when my parents were visiting this whole controversy about plastic water bottles was in our paper every day (front page). I generally am a little more than neglectful about reading the paper, but my mom and dad read it and so they were informing me of the daily saga. We all have those Nalgene water bottles (I purchased them a while back thinking that they were good because they were hard plastic) but the paper was now saying they were no good. Probably that we would all have cancer by next week. Day by day it went on, describing the ills that await those of us who consume our liquids in these 'unfit' bottles and so on. I explained to anyone who wanted to hear that I think all this fuss about the water bottles is severely missing the point: as a society we drink milk full of drugs and residual pesticides, we drive around our vehicles way too much, we consume too much. Right here in this same city who puts the evils of number 7 bottles on the front page of the paper, the whole city is sprayed with poison to lessen our mosquito population.

Maybe this has turned into a bit of a rant. But it just seems like more and more we are growing away from a our own practical sense and wisdom into this chaos of complete dichotomies.

Following up on the newspaper, by day 4 or 5 we got to the point where now it was alright for people to drink out of the bottles, just don't give them to really young kids and don't put really hot stuff in them.

Maybe I am just a skeptic. Maybe I need to go to sleep. Probably it is a little bit of both.

If you want to read a good thought provoking read on this 'golden mean' visit Willa, from whom I quoted above.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

My blog is worth $3,951.78.
How much is your blog worth?

HT: Dawn who by the way has a blog full of great ideas (regardless of it's price!)

Pining for the West Coast

Seascape by Emily Carr (one of our favorite artists around here).

A Busy Day

Swimming.....homeschool coop.....dinner.....swimming.....all the things waiting for me after a day of being out....

I think one of the things I love most about homeschooling is being home. So when we are out for the day, busy and out the door at the outrageous hour of 9:30 am (gasp) it is always so wonderful to come home again. Even if it is to a heap of dishes that we were in to much of a hurry to wash (as we are not very polished at leaving the house in the morning in good speed- how do people do it every day??). Even they look inviting as I fill the sink with warm sudsy water and plunge in.

Being home gives me time to be with those four children I love. To see them shine, to help them when they struggle, and to stand back and admire the children they are and who they are becoming. Being home gives me time to look after my family and the home we live in. Not that we don't enjoy a day out, or in the case of spring, and increased load of fun sports and activities. But the coming home is always one of the best parts. It can often look like it did today....

....the three younger children came in the front door and out the back. The two smaller boys to the sandbox and Hannah up 'her' tree. She came down after a bit of some good thinking and decided to begin building her 'egg dropping device' (a carry over from todays experiment of seeing what the kids at the learning coop could construct that could cover an egg so it could withstand a good drop onto the concrete) .

....Ariel could be found fairly quickly on the couch with some books.

....After the dishes, getting the curry on, I came onto the 4Real Boards with a cup of tea.

We were all glad to be home and each of us debriefed from a busy day in our own way.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Thoughts on Unschooling

Once again, I am going to leave this first post to some thoughts from others (not that I don't have any of my is just that tax season is almost over and my reciept stack is calling!)

Unschooling Revisited

Unschooling Inspiration

This quote is also something I have enjoyed thinking on today...

…describing ourselves and our families’ lives via precise words is not about labelling, one-up-manship or peer group pressure. It’s about finding our tribe. It’s about identifying with like-minded people in a world of other-minded ones. In addition to our strong need to establish a unique persona, we human beings also have an equally strong desire to be accepted, to be among people who understand our choices, who accept us as we are, without reservation, and who support us on our journey.

The need to identify and be identified by a supportive community is especially intense when our journey follows a lightly trodden path, when we are taking risks. The need for nourishment from such a group of like-minded people is probably also stronger when we’re living in nuclear families, isolated at home with very young children or feeling the lack of the status that society unfortunately gives to those who go to jobs.

My New and Improved Computer

I actually should have named this post "Why you shouldn't just learn to live with something when it is easy to fix!"

Our computer has been dinosaur speed for almost 10 months. Two days in the shop, $100 dollars later and VOILA, lightening speed (thanks MTS!)

Hopefully this will translate into me getting some more focused thoughts on the great unschooling discussion I have been following in bits and pieces!

Monday, March 31, 2008

Some Great Thoughts...

Not from me! I have been silent on this blog for a while but not absent from the greater blogging world. My time has been taken up by reading some wonderful posts by some very thoughtful women. The conversation that has ensued has been very thought provoking. It has been directing my energy into really looking towards my children with the thought of our connectedness; where it is good and where it could use some work. The whole concept of parenting as a creative art, one in which we learn by trail and failure, one that requires our creative juices, our energy, our heart and soul: one not to be looked at as a side profession. Our children learn what they see, but family life is not perfect. We are working towards Christlikeness and have our successes and failures daily. But what a gift it is, and I saw this clearly again this week, more clearly than I have in quite a while, for me to be able to spend these minute, hours, days, weeks, and years with my four beautiful children: loving them, walking through their ups and downs, and travelling this journey together.

Here are some of the great posts that have been percolating goodness in our days here....

Parenting as a Creative Art and this one as well by Willa.
Every Face I Look at Seems Beautiful....the title grabbed me and I am so glad it did. Don't miss the great comments as well.


I find that these tests give different results as the years go by- not that I seek them out, but here and there in different conferences etc. they come up. I used to score very one sided (you guess the side!) but now I seem to be mellowing into more of a middle ground!

Click to view my Personality Profile page

HT: Willa

Monday, March 10, 2008

Ditto what she said....

Karen put it quite nicely here...

Daylight savings time always bugs/annoys me. Spring is sort of approaching (although it is hard to imagine sometimes under all this snow....) and we are miraculously beginning to wake earlier which I always think is kind of nice- lessons get done and then we have those delicious extra afternoon hours. But than BAM- the clocks go forward. Couple that with my 11:30 pm Ultimate game last night and a late night movie watch for the older two children and you get a fairly lethargic morning!! If I drank coffee I would be having it extra strength this morning. But alas I don't so instead the tea got an extra bag and an extra dollop of sugar!!

A Bit of Random Silliness

You Are Cilantro

The bad news is that there are some people who can't stand you.

The good news is that most people love you more than anything else in the world.

You are distinct, unusual, fresh, and very controversial. And you wouldn't have it any other way.

That's great as cilantro has to be one of my favourite herbs!

HT: Meridith

Monday, February 18, 2008


Some of our simple plans and routines I want to focus on in this special time...

....prayer: Our morning prayer, the Lord's Prayer with our lunch, and ending the day with a compline.

....spiritual reading for me: I have a few books that are on the go but are sadly neglected. I will also be looking at some daily thoughts from CS Lewis.

.....time to reflect: On our relationships with one another and how they can be infused more fully in the love and mercy of Christ.

....a creative visual: Hannah and I had an afternoon of painting a crown of thorns with watercolors. I still want to spend an afternoon with the boys doing a similar craft.

Putting aside this time to focus, to take those moments to reflect, and to spend more time in prayer, sharing the journey with my children.

May your Lenten season be one of new found understanding and love.