Thursday, October 29, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Celebrate Autumn




Autumn is the eternal corrective. It is ripeness and color and a time of maturity;

but it is also breadth, and depth, and distance.

What man can stand with autumn on a hilltop and fail to see the span of his world

and the meaning of the rolling hills that reach to the far horizon?


~Hal Borland




Bittersweet October.

The mellow, messy, leaf-kicking, perfect pause between the opposing miseries of summer and winter.

~Carol Bishop Hipps In a Southern Garden, 1995




For man, autumn is a time of harvest, of gathering together.

For nature, it is a time of sowing, of scattering abroad.

~Edwin Way Teale




Did you

Celebrate Autumn

this week?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Russ is on a roll this week. Sunday evening he took the boys up to the neighbor's orchard and picked me a huge basket of apples.
I've made a couple batches of applesauce with cinnamon and local honey. I adore the smell of simmering applesauce.


Russ also carved a pumpkin with the boys... which is the first time we've ever done that, amazingly!
It was a terrific boy project.

I got a pedicure, and picked out a lovely fall colored polish. Does that count?
I happen to think it was a most relaxing way to celebrate autumn. Grin.

Tonight, I'm off to our October ChocLit Guild meeting.
Talking about books (Jane Eyre in particular) while eating chocolate in the company of marvelous friends...
Yep. I'm celebrating.

Tomorrow, we are off to another pumpkin farm with cousin Ivy and our friends Christina and Jake.
Then we'll spend the evening at a costume party with our friends John, Char, McKinnon, and Monet.

I'm going to need a long nap after all this celebrating is over....

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Next week's Living. Lovely. challenge:

Find Unexpected or Out of Context Lovely.



My friend, Jodi, sent me a timely link to this blog post.

But if you have time, I urge you to read the Washington Times article, Pearls before Breakfast, in its entirety.
It is well worth your time. I particularly noticed this paragraph:

There was no ethnic or demographic pattern to distinguish the people who stayed to watch Bell, or the ones who gave money, from that vast majority who hurried on past, unheeding. Whites, blacks and Asians, young and old, men and women, were represented in all three groups. But the behavior of one demographic remained absolutely consistent. Every single time a child walked past, he or she tried to stop and watch. And every single time, a parent scooted the kid away.



And because I adore finding connections (a la this post), Russ and I watched The Soloist recently and thought it was an excellent movie.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Slice of Life

Life @ Home

Just a glimpse into life at our house. On a good day, of course. Grin.

Leif wants to 'do school' like the big boys. So he colors in a workbook.

Levi, never the workbook guy, teaches me the grammar lesson while I fold clothes in the bedroom:

Life @ Home 2

Luke and Leif were getting rowdy, so I sent them to their room to read.
I was worried when it was so quiet, but for once my fears were not realized.
These two are starting to be really good buds.

Life @ Home 3

Working on a basic diagram of the earth's layers of atmosphere:

Life @ Home 4

Independent reading. Mom and Levi's favorite time of day:

Life @ Home 5

Two peas in a pod:

Life @ Home 6

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Luke S. ~ Firefighter

Luke ~ Firefighter


It's Halloween Dress-Up at i heart faces!




My boys dress up every year for Halloween, but it has never been a huge deal.
They don't talk about their costumes for weeks (or months) on end.
Actually, I'm usually the one who picks them out.
Don't get me wrong, they love to dress up.
We have bins full of dress-up clothes... and they get used almost daily.

Maybe that's it. Every day is dress-up day!!

This year, though, there is a little story behind Luke's costume.

Luke is my practical guy. He adores doing 'guy' stuff.
Lately, as in the past several months, his favorite book has been
Richard Scarry's What Do People Do All Day? He POURS over that book.


One day, he was pouring over the pages about firemen while we were driving along in the car.
Suddenly, he had an epiphany. He saw a fire hydrant on the sidewalk and saw the firemen in his book
hooking the hose up to a fire hydrant. The look on his face was priceless. Country kids are so deprived...

Later that week, we were visiting my sister and her husband, Ben.
Luke and Ben are two peas in a pod, and Luke ADORES Uncle Ben.
Luke was sitting on a fire hydrant outside their house, and the subject came up.
Uncle Ben tells Luke that he is going to be a fireman. He has signed up for school and joined the volunteer fire department.
Luke immediately got very upset and said with great disappointment, "But I was going to be a fireman!"
Apparently he thought there wouldn't be room for both of them. Grin.
Since then, Luke has come to terms with the fact that both he and Uncle Ben can (and will) be firemen.

We were at Costco some time ago, and I glanced over at the costume rack.
There it was... a perfect little fireman outfit. It took me about 2 seconds to throw it in the cart.

So, Halloween night, Uncle Ben has offered to put on his own turn-outs (apparently that is what they are called ~ I learn something new everyday)
and take his mini-me trick-or-treating. I'm speculating that they will both have the time of their lives...

Friday, October 23, 2009

Jameson ~ Take 3

Jameson

Jameson came to town recently (with his mommy, Lori) and
the pumpkin patch was a perfect place for new pictures.
(You've seen this cutie before, here and here.)
Here are a few of my favorites.

Jameson 2




Jameson 3




Jameson 5




Jameson 4

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Kind Words



Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment,

or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.

~Leo Buscaglia





How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged,

sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong.

Because someday in your life you will have been all of these.

~George Washington Carver





When I was young, I admired clever people. Now that I am old, I admire kind people.

~Abraham Joshua Heschel





By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.

~Winston Churchill





Beginning today, treat everyone you meet as if they were going to be dead by midnight.

Extend to them all the care, kindness and understanding you can muster,

and do it with no thought of any reward.

Your life will never be the same again.

~Og Mandino




Did you

Speak Kind Words

to someone this week?

Is there someone in your life (spouse, sibling, co-worker, child, parent) to whom your words are often unkind?
Did you make an effort to swallow the things you wanted to say,
and instead find words of encouragement?
Did it improve your relationship?
Did it bring you joy?
How did they respond?


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


I love motherhood dearly. I love my children dearly.
I love homeschooling.

But, by golly, sometimes the 24-7-ness of it wears me down,
all my nerves frayed and exposed.

Boys. Gotta love them. With their noise and dirt and exuberance.
Everything about them screams LIFE! ABUNDANTLY!

Extroverts. Gotta love them. Talking. Touching. Constantly.
By the end of the day I desperately need to be ensconced in a 10 foot sound-proof bubble.

Over and over again, I find myself saying words that tear down.
Even if the words are benign, the tone of voice or body language is not.

What am I thinking?! These are little people God has entrusted to me!
Not only do my words have the ability to tear down,
but I am teaching my boys, by example, how to treat others.

How can I be angry at my boys for yelling, when I do?
How can I be angry at my boys for their attitudes, when mine is unacceptable?

I've made a huge, conscious effort to speak kindly to my boys (one in particular) this week,
even (especially) when I'm pulling my hair out with frustration.

This shouldn't come as any surprise, but the boys have responded to correction more quickly,
their attitudes are better, and they are treating each other with more kindness.

A few days are only drops in a colossal bucket.
God help me, I must keep this up.


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Next week's Living. Lovely. challenge:


Celebrate Autumn!



October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came -

The Chestnuts, Oaks, and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.


~George Cooper, "October's Party"



~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Do you have ideas for Living. Lovely. challenges?

If you would like to make suggestions for future challenges,
feel free to leave a comment or email me at heidi (at) poetsgarden (dot) com.

Little Dorrit


Russ and I just finished the last episode (well, the last four episodes on the fourth disc) of the series Little Dorrit.
We were both mesmerized. Dickens paints his characters with a masterful stroke,
and the actors brought them to vivid life in this BBC production ~ exceedingly eccentric, endearing, or infuriating.
Romance, secrets, intrigue, complex plot, fascinating costumes and setting, and a satisfying ending.
I couldn't ask for more. Perfect viewing for October. It felt like a Halloween version of Pride and Prejudice. Grin.




Monday, October 19, 2009

Why We Homeschool

(From the archives, originally posted April 2007... It has been quite some time since I've posted our reasons for homeschooling and I thought some of you might find them helpful or interesting, so I've reposted them today.)



Why We Homeschool




Having thought about homeschooling for over 15 years now, my list of reasons to homeschool is a long one.


#1. Learning as a Lifestyle. Family Life. Real Life. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. In the kitchen, car, dental office, library, museum, mountains. Reading. Asking questions. Being interested. Talking with people of different ages, professions, interests. More time for 'field trips' and travel. Not confined to a certain building, certain hours of the day, with an adult and a room full of same-aged peers. Children should see their parents learning, reading, and discovering along with them and on their own.


#2. Tailoring Education to Fit the Individual. All children are unique individuals. They learn different subjects at different paces. They are interested in different things. Ideally, my sons will be learning at their own speed in each subject. If they are at a '4th' grade level in reading, '1st' grade level in spelling, and '3rd' grade level in math, I can meet them where they are. If they need extra time to acquire mastery in phonics, we'll take that time. If they grasp a mathematical concept immediately, we won't spend 2 weeks on drill and review. No worrying about pushing ahead too quickly, or boring other students, or leaving my sons frustrated and lost, or lingering too long on a subject--leaving them bored to tears, or worse--sucking the love of learning right out of them. When we find a subject fascinating, let us spend the time delving in! When we find a subject that we don't care for, let us learn what we must and move on! If one of my sons is interested in, say, photography we'll buy or borrow books, get him equipment for his birthday, find an adult who loves and is knowledgeable in photography and schedule some time for them to be together, or find a class in which he can enroll. Science? How about classes at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry? I want them to master the basics and have time for their passions. I want them to love learning. My children's educations can be better tailored to suit their goals and equip them for their future.


#3. Owning Their Education. When learning happens 'on their own turf', when children have some control over what subjects they study, when there is time to really ask questions and discuss issues, when they are allowed input on where they study/how their daily schedule is arranged/how much time they need for specific subjects, when a love of learning has been developed, when education happens as a constant part of life...I believe children will have a greater feeling of ownership of their education. It is more personal and internalized. They are more likely to spend the rest of their life learning, instead of regarding education as something that happened to them for 12 (or more) years of their childhood.


#4. Flexibility. Homeschooling provides an amazing amount of flexibility to education in so many ways. When children become interested in a particular subject, they don't have to shut their books and move on when the bell rings. When they finish a lesson earlier than expected, they don't have to fill the next half hour with 'busy work.' If a child is sick, instead of missing a day of school, they might listen to a book on CD or follow the Latin lesson along with their siblings. Maybe they will sleep all day and continue lessons that evening. There will be no falling behind or scrambling to get the day's work from the teacher. Learning can happen anywhere: in the waiting room at the dentist's office, in the car, between events at a swim meet, or on vacation. The 'school year' can be spread out over a whole year with more frequent breaks, helping to eliminate burn-out or loosing skills and knowledge over a long summer break. Family vacations can be had during off-season. We can take a week day to deal with life and add in school on Saturday. If we have fallen behind or need more time to dig in to a subject, we may add in a day here or there. If we are ahead, then we may relax a bit. In short, we will make homeschooling work for us, rather than striving to fit a 'perfect' box. During their high school years particularly, education can be flexible for work schedules, apprenticeships, college classes, travel, community service, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities.


#5. Using our Time Wisely. One of my top reasons for homeschooling is the efficient use of our time. There are so many wonderful things with which to fill our days. More time can be spent on-task when there is no transportation time to and from school, no school assemblies, no roll call, no explanations/discipline/review for other students, no 'busy work,' no inappropriate socialization during study time, no 'filler' classes or subjects. When children are able to be on-task at their exact learning level with a 1:3 teacher/student ratio and with immediate personal feedback and discussion, much is accomplished in a short amount of time. This leaves hours of the day free for a full and well-rounded life, complete with down-time. As Greg Sherman writes in the essay, Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool (linked below):

Other people may rightfully disagree with our priorities, but my wife and I both feel that enjoying and performing music, playing in the outdoors, cooking, performing in the theater, learning ballet, and immersing ourselves in long and complicated games with siblings and friends is much more important than 99% of the math we were compelled to try and learn in school. I know that some people are capable of doing it all: school, music, theater, ballet, soccer, family. But not us.

I want my children to have the time for a fulfilling life, to pursue their passions. I don't think we would have the time without a homeschool environment.


#6. Integration of Knowledge and Subjects. Rarely in real life does one use a skill or 'subject' in isolation. The ideal educational environment would allow writing skills to be developed during history class, grammar skills developed during Latin, or a current events discussion during science.

To the classical mind, all knowledge is interrelated. Astronomy (for example) isn't studied in isolation; it's learned along with the history of scientific discovery, which leads into the church's relationship to science and from there to the intricacies of medieval church history. The reading of the Odyssey leads the student into the consideration of Greek history, the nature of heroism, the development of the epic, and man's understanding of the divine. ~Susan Wise Bauer, in her essay, What is Classical Education?

#7. Continuity. Homeschooling will allow for a seamless progression of skills and knowledge. It will allow my children to master a skill and then progress to the next level without lingering, and without gaps. We won't jump from one teaching style to another, one curriculum to another, or one set of expectations to another. I will know what material they have covered, and what needs to be presented, without having to assume that certain information or skills have been acquired. We will cover world history starting at the beginning, finishing at the end. We will not spend all of our time learning about the pilgrims again, and again, and again. We will not do a unit study on ocean life each year of grade school. Instead, we will start with Biology, move on to Earth Science, then Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics. We will not read Charlotte's Web as our yearly read-aloud. (We read the book, listened to it on CD, and watched the movie when Levi was 4.) We will discover new books daily and revisit favorites often.


#8. No One Knows My Kids Like Their Own Parents. No other person wants more for them, is ready to sacrifice what we are willing to sacrifice for them. A teacher with 20-30 (or more) incoming students each year does not know what are my child's strengths, weaknesses, interests, learning style and personality. I hope to know when to challenge them, and when to hold back. As their parents, we have authority to discipline, authority to teach values and morals, and authority to guide our children in deciding their futures.


#9. Socialization. In my experience, children in recent times lose their innocence early and mature later, creating a 10-15 year (or longer) adolescence. My hope is to help my children retain their childhood innocence longer and encourage maturation. I want my kids to think for themselves without a herd mentality. Lots of free play time (particularly outdoors), time for imagination to let loose, quality children's literature, selective television, very little video games, more interaction with adults or families and less with large groups of same-aged peers, chores and responsibilities, serious participation in and ownership of family relationships, deep friendships, challenging academic studies (including Socratic dialogue and discussion), more time with their father, travel, personal development sports (swimming, tennis, martial arts...), music lessons, quality group experiences (books club, age-group swim team, debate team, band or orchestra...), apprenticeships, and specific training in life skills will all help serve my children as they enjoy childhood and develop into mature young adults.


#10. Rigorous Academics. I hope to provide my boys with a solid classical (or neo-classical) academic foundation. This will include an emphasis on the mastery of reading, writing, and math. We will study history chronologically and in great depth. We will read a thousand pieces of quality literature and end with a Great Books study in high school. The boys' dad (with a science degree and a masters in education) will oversee their science studies. We may use online tutorials, private tutors, or college classes for high school level science. The same applies to math. Our boys have started learning Spanish, will begin the study of Latin by the 3rd grade, and hopefully add in a 3rd foreign language by the 6th-9th grade. We will study logic and rhetoric. Music and art will be added in as much as possible, including a few years of piano and music theory. I'll be posting more about classical education later.


#11.Furthering My Own Education. I am incredibly full of anticipation, knowing that I will have the opportunity to learn along with my boys. There are so many gaps in my education, and I look forward with delight to the years ahead.




If you are interested, after surviving my lengthy explanations, in reading a wonderful article about a father's reasons for homeschooling, check out Ten Good Reasons to Homeschool by Greg Sherman, Ph.D.


Some of my favorite inspirational books that encourage me (directly or indirectly) to homeschool:
Family Matters: Why Homeschooling Makes Sense by David Guterson
The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Wise
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv
Hold On to Your Kids: Why Parents Need to Matter More Than Peers by Gordon Neufeld and Gabor Md Mate
Dreamers, Discoverers, and Dynamos by Lucy Jo Palladino, Ph.D.

Field Trip #5 ~ Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Express 2

What better way to spend an autumn afternoon than at the pumpkin patch with best friends!

We met up with my best friend (Char), her kiddos (McKinnon & Monet), and her sister and babydoll (Lori and Jameson) for a romp at the farm. Hay bale maze, corn cannon, duck races (with water hand-pumps and gutter rivers), dried corn boxes (not nearly as messy and sand boxes), a long hay ride, and picking pumpkins out in the field.

And a convenient way to sneak in a photo shoot of Mr. Jameson. More photos tomorrow.

Pumpkin Express

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Friday, October 16, 2009

And the Winners Are....

Compliments of RANDOM.ORG:

Random Integer Generator
Here are your random numbers: 27 46 35 39
Timestamp: 2009-10-16 16:36:19 UTC

So that would be....

27 Destiny D
46 betsy
35 Hopi Q
39 Mirjam

Congratulations!

Ladies, email me at heidi (at) poetsgarden (dot) com so that I can get
your mailing addresses, and I'll get those notecards sent out to you!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Random


1. Did you know that the ER doesn't stitch up tongue lacerations? Even when it is a *huge gash*. Did you know that it is very, very difficult to keep a 5 year old boy on a clear liquid diet for days? Did you know that 3 year old boys and 7 year old boys have a very hard time eating real food when their brother is eating a popsicle? Ask me how I know.

2. In less than a week, I've gotten up at 6 am *4 times* to go walking with my sister, Shannon, in the rainy darkness. I need a reward, or something. Like M&Ms.


3. At 7:30 this morning, Luke was on the kitchen counter gazing out the window at 3 deer in our yard. At 9 am, all three boys were on the kitchen counter counting 20 wild turkeys in our yard.

4. My mom was over yesterday afternoon borrowing books for my niece's history and literature studies. They have started meeting once a week to discuss and share their reading. Turns out Walt Whitman is exactly what and where they are at this next week: the Civil War and American authors. My sister, Holly, emailed me last night to tell me she loved Chasing Vermeer and ask if she could borrow Walking on Water and Walt Whitman while wondering where the W pentomino was. My sister, Shannon, and I had a long book conversation on our wet and dark morning walk today. I love my family. I love homeschooling. I love the family/homeschooling synchronicity.

5. I am permanently, forever done with changing diapers. At least until the grandkids come along....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ Reading


In reading, a lonely quiet concert is given to our minds;

all our mental faculties will be present in this symphonic exaltation.

~Stéphane Mallarmé


Did you

Read Something Lovely

this week?

Tell me all about it!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It spoke volumes of lovely to my soul.


pp 98-99

But unless we are creators, we are not fully alive.

What do I mean by creators? Not only artists, whose acts of creation are the obvious ones of working with paint or clay or words. Creativity is a way of living life, no matter what our vocation or how we earn our living. Creativity is not limited to the arts or having some kind of important career. Several women have written to me to complain about A Swiftly Tilting Planet. They feel that I should not have allowed Meg Murry to give up a career by marrying Calvin, having children, and quietly helping her husband with his work behind the scenes. But if women are to be free to choose to pursue a career as well as marriage, they must also be free to choose the making of a home and the nurture of a family as their vocation; that was Meg's choice, and a free one, and it was as creative a choice as if she had gone on to get a Ph.D. in quantum mechanics.

Our freedom to be creators is far less limited than some people would think.


Levi and I read Walt Whitman: Words for America, a beautiful picture book about an incredible American poet. The illustrator, Brian Selznick (of The Invention of Hugo Cabret), does not disappoint, and generous text offers a wonderful introduction to the poet. Much of the book focuses on Whitman's experiences during the Civil War, and I found myself choking back tears while trying to read through his letter to a soldier's family.

I have listened to or read 'O Captain! My Captain!' a time or two, but it is so much richer reading it in the context of the end of the Civil War and Lincoln's assasination.

'O Captain! My Captain!'
Leaves of Grass

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weathered every rack, the prize we sought is won,
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills,
For you bouquets and ribboned wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding,
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still,
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchored safe and sound, its voyage closed and done,
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won;
Exult O shores, and ring O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.




We also read A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, one more American poet. It is illustrated by another favorite, Melissa Sweet, who also illustrated The Boy Who Drew Birds: A Story of John James Audubon. Speaking of connections, I just now realized that she illustrated the Charlotte in (Paris, Giverny, New York, London) books, as well! We have the first three on our shelves, and I just checked out Charlotte in London from the library this week. I'll review it soon!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Next week's Living. Lovely. challenge:

Speak Kind Words

Is there someone in particular (spouse, child, co-worker...) to whom you find yourself speaking unlovely words on a regular basis? Words of frustration or exasperation? Are you condescending? Annoyed? Irritated? Passive-aggressive? Do you nag or put down? Can this person ever do anything right? No throwing stones, here. I know what it is like to have my last nerve frayed, and I find myself, more often than I'd like to admit, saying things I regret. Or is it just me?

I'd like to encourage you (as well as myself) to pick a day (or an hour if a day seems impossible) to speak only words of encouragement or affirmation to that person. Find ways to honestly (the 'honestly' is very important) build them up. Notice when they do something right. Think of qualities you admire in them. Thank them for little things. If that isn't enough of a challenge, think of small acts of service you can do for this person.

Can we do it?

The Child We Always Are



You can understand and relate to most people better if you look at them ~

no matter how old or impressive they may be ~ as if they are children.

For most of us never really grow up or mature all that much ~ we simply grow taller.

O, to be sure, we laugh less and play less and wear uncomfortable disguises like adults,

but beneath the costume is the child we always are,

whose needs are simple, whose daily life is still best described by fairy tales.

~Leo Rosten

Monday, October 12, 2009

Connections

Have you read this book?

When you are paying attention, you notice....

Patterns. Connections. Puzzles. Art as truth.

Love it!



pg. 8

Then Ms. Hussey asked if anyone in the class had ever received a truly extraordinary letter. No one had. Ms. Hussey looked very interested. They had ended up with a strange assignment.

"Let's see what we can find," Ms. Hussey began. "Ask an adult to tell you about a letter they will never forget. I'm talking about a piece of mail that changed their life. How old were they when they got it? Where were they when they opened it? Do they still have it?"

....Ms. Hussey suddenly clapped her hands, making Petra jump and setting the little pearl earring into orbit. "I know! Once you find a letter that changed a life, sit down and write me a letter. Write me a letter I won't be able to forget."

pg. 36

"You know," Ms. Hussey said finally, "Picasso said that art is a lie, but a lie that tells the truth."

pg. 247

My lie is that I am only canvas and pigment. My truth is that I am alive. Some might call this your imagination, but it's not. Art, as you know, is about ideas. I am as real as your blue china or the boy with the box or the girl who dreamed about me. I am very much here.


pp. 78-79

Too many people apologize when they are caught enjoying a book of fiction; they are afraid that it will be considered a waste of time and that they ought to be reading a biography or a book of information on how to pot plants. Is Jane Eyre not true? Did Conrad, turning to the writing of fiction in his sixties, not search there for truth? Was Melville, writing about the sea and the great conflict between a man and a whale, not delving for a deeper truth than we can find in any number of how-to books?

And Shakespeare and all the other dramatists before and after him! Are they not revealers of truth?

pp. 90-91

And what is real? Does the work of art have a reality beyong that of the artist's vision, beyond whatever has been set down on canvas, paper, musical notations? If the artist is the servant of the work, if each work of art, great or small, is the result of an annunciation, then it does.

Hamlet is. When the play has been read, when the curtain goes down on the performance, Hamlet still is. He is, in all his ambivalence, as real as Byron or as the man who cried out, "Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief," or as Ivan Karamazov. The flight of stairs up which George MacDonald's princess had to climb would be there whether or not MacDonald had ever written The Princess and the Goblin. The storm still rages around King Lear. The joy of Bach's gigue at the end of the Fifth French Suite does not depend on a piano for its being.

the blue ones



Write a Letter


Read Something Lovely




Those romance book suggestions I asked for a while ago?
Guess what I then added to my list and also arrived a couple days ago in a red envelope:

Speaking of connections...

Romance Movies, Scarlett Johansson
I rewatched this favorite a week or two ago:
(Costuming and setting: Oooh, la, la!!!!)


I feel a rabbit trail coming on...

Oscar Wilde
Minnie Driver cracks. me. up. in this one:

Oooh, lookie. It's Colin Firth (and Oscar Wilde and Rupert Everett....), again:


Speaking of Colin Firth, I also rewatched Pride & Prejudice last week!

Enough with the rabbit trails, already!
(Frog trails?)

I'm going to go put on my pearl earrings and get to work.
We're studying Vermeer. And Shakespeare.
(I just finished reading The Shakespeare Stealer... Hamlet, again! Review coming.)
And beginning our next read-aloud, The Princess and the Goblin.
And listening to a little Bach.
And making pentominoes for our math lesson.
And sorting and counting (and eating) M&Ms.
And diving head-long into my book club selection for this month, Jane Eyre.
And placing A Swiftly Tilting Planet precariously at the top of my towering and tilting book stack.

{Grin}

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Field Trip #4 ~ Philip Foster Pioneer Farm

Pioneer Farm Homeschool Day


How lucky were we? GORGEOUS weather for our day at Philip Foster Pioneer Farm! Lots of child-friendly, hands-on activities. The kids (my sister, Holly, joined us with her 3) got to do laundry, grind corn, test out the tools in the wood shop, watch the cider press in action (and taste-test the results!), build a log cabin, write with a quill pen, eat hot apple fritters right off the stove, tour the buildings, climb in covered wagons, use a crosscut saw....


Most of the stations were manned by kids in costume. My personal favorite: the 12 year old single-handedly manning the blacksmith shop, burning smiley faces on wood (the boys cut with the crosscut saw), answering questions, and giving demonstrations. Luke got to help him start a fire with frayed twine, a char cloth, and a magnifying glass.


I really, really want some of the life-sized 'Lincoln Logs' the kids used to build their own log cabin.



Pioneer Activities




Pioneer Activities 2




Pioneer Home




Pioneer Barn

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Give-Away Time!!

Hope Note Cards

In honor of our Living. Lovely. challenge this week (sending a hand-written letter),
I'm giving away sets (10 cards each) of Hope note cards to 4 individual winners.
For a chance to win, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.
For a second chance to win, leave me another comment letting me know that you are a follower of this blog
(click on the 'follow' button over there on my side bar).
Be sure that I have a way to contact you (blog link or email) to let you know if you are a winner!
This give-away will be open until midnight on Wednesday the 14th, and I'll anounce the winner sometime on Friday.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Living. Lovely. ~ A Handwritten Letter


And none will hear the postman's knock

Without a quickening of the heart.

For who can bear to feel himself forgotten?

~W.H. Auden




Did anyone

Send a Handwritten Letter

this week?


With the advent of emails and texting, do you still write letters often?
Did you ever enjoy writing letters in the past?
Have you ever had a penpal?
Do you enjoy receiving a handwritten letter?
Does a handwritten letter feel differently than an email or phone call?
What is the best letter you have ever received?




Speaking of letter writing...
I have a give-away coming Friday!
Don't miss it!




(Scroll down for next week's Living. Lovely. challenge.)


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I loved getting mail when I was younger.
I'd race to the mailbox each day.
I loved catalogs. I loved magazines.
I really loved letters.

I had several penpals over the years.
A boy in Korea.
A girl I met at summer camp.

An unlikely and unexpected friendship formed when I was in second grade with a much older student.
She wanted to be a teacher and made up these lovely worksheets for me to do.
I can still picture them in my head.
Call me crazy. I loved worksheets. I loved the star chart she made for me.
I was devestated when she moved away.
And then the packet came in the mail. More worksheets lovingly handwritten.

After I outgrew the worksheets, we continued to write on occasion.
I have seen her only once since second grade...10 years later I attended her wedding.
Is it any surprise that she became a teacher and I became a homeschooling mom?
To this day, almost 30 years later, we continue to exchange Christmas cards.

I saved most of the notes passed in class during highschool.
Hundreds, it seems, from my best friend, Char.


Russ and I had a long-distance relationship for a few months.
I can't tell you what it meant to get letters from him.
This was before email...but he did send send me a fax at work on occasion.
I saved all of those, too. Grin.

Now I'm in the mood to go through my box of old letters....

I rarely mail hand-written letters anymore.

My boys do have penpals, though.
They exchange letters and pictures with the boys from Thoughts of Home.
We set to work this week on the latest batch of words and drawings.



I also sent a get-well card to a friend,
and notes with updated pictures of the boys to grandparents.
(Yes, Grandma and Grandpa, yours is in the mail. Grin.)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Our next Living. Lovely. challenge:

Read Something Lovely

Something soul-affirming. Something beautiful.
Something your mind can ponder after you've set the words down.
Poetry. Literature. Quotes. Lyrics. Memoir. Letters. Devotional.

Spend time interacting with the ideas and images that linger in your mind.
Think on things that are lovely.

Why should we think upon things that are lovely?
Because thinking determines life.
It is a common habit to blame life upon the environment.
Environment modifies life but does not govern life.
The soul is stronger than its surroundings.

~William James



It is one of my favorite books I've read this year, truly on my all-time favorites list.
I'll share more next Thursday, but for now I leave you with this quote:

pp. 30-31

The writer does want to be published; the painter urgently hopes that someone will see the finished canvas (van Gogh was denied the satisfaction of having his work bought and appreciated during his lifeitme; no wonder the pain was more than he could bear); the composer needs his music to be heard. Art is communication, and if there is no communication it is as though the work has been stillborn.

The reader, viewer, listener, usually grossly underestimates his importance. If a reader cannot create a book along with the writer, the book will never come to life. Creative involvement: that's the basic difference between reading a book and watching TV. In watching TV we are passive; sponges; we do nothing. In reading we must become creators. Once the child has learned to read along and can pick up a book without illustrations, he must become a creator, imagining the setting of the story, visualizing the characters, seeing facial expressions, hearing the inflection of voices. The author and the reader "know" each other; they meet on the bridge of words.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Senior Photos!

Grad 2010 Collage

I took my first guy senior photos this past weekend.
Cody was an awesome sport, and I'm thrilled with how the photos are turning out.
Lot's more editing to do, but I've got a good start.