Sunday Journal: What Happened to May?

at baseball game

at baseball game

I lost an entire week. Not only did I manage to misplace the time but didn’t even notice the discrepancy until Friday…thought Friday was Thursday too…

I think homeschooling has absconded with my mind. Or maybe the kids.

The weather was abysmal this week too. Cold and rain nearly everyday. The weather experts say the rain will continue this week too. At least the days are supposed to be warm.

zoo

zoo

Today was nice and dry so we drove up to Cincinnati to visit the zoo and lunch at our favorite nearby pizza spot. I like walking around the zoo and enjoy the people watching as much as the animal watching. Though, I must admit to feeling a bit sad for the animals sometimes.

Boots tried to join poetry tea time this week

Boots tried to join poetry tea time this week

Monday night my husband took the older three to a local baseball game. It was cold and drizzly but they had a good time. I took Littlest out for ice cream and then shoe shopping. Later in the week I took the others shoe shopping. Maybe their feet will not grow the rest of the year. I wish. Shopping for clothing and shoes is about as much fun as going to the dentist. I had to buy a dress for a wedding. The last dress I bought was about eleven years ago and was for a funeral. I tried on about a dozen dresses and modeled them for the kids. They helped me choose the dress and Oldest found a

shopping trip with Littlest

shopping trip with Littlest

sweater for me to wear with it. Sparkles had the grace to let me know why I should never (ever!) wear some of the outfits I tried on. Hopefully, I can get a decade’s use out of this dress too…

Oldest and I began reading Les Miserables (do not rely on my spelling for French words!). I’m not sure what to say about this book yet. If I was reading it for myself…honestly I would have given up by now. The descriptions are very long and the author takes pages and pages…chapters

composition class was outside

composition class was outside

and chapters even…to say that the Bishop is a good and holy man…the very soul of compassion and mercy. There will be a medal or something for finishing this book…right?!

I purchased all of the ingredients for our Medieval feast this week. We decided to keep our little feast simple and chose recipes for an Ember Day observation. We noticed the term in a couple of the books we read and got curious about the meaning. Ember days are set aside at the beginning of each season for fasting, half-abstinence, and prayer. I chose a few dishes from various times and regions. I’ll share all of the recipes in a post this week along with our final thoughts on the Medieval Study.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

TOS Review: Memoria Press’ D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set

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My daughter loves to read mythology. I knew she would be delighted to try out D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set from Memoria Press. I was delighted to see that Memoria Press provides a study guide to accompany D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek DAulaires-Greek-Myths_zps41kctrttMyths. Personally, I believe that all children should have unlimited access to any book written by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire. I wish I had been exposed to these books during my childhood. I love the D’Aulaire books for several reasons: they are well written, beautifully illustrated and designed for children. In plainer language, the explicit details of the…affairs…of the gods and goddesses are glossed over a bit. Anyway, you can read through this book with your kids and not have to worry about explaining “the birds and the bees” to your 20160517_184217 (480x640)nine-year old. My daughter loved the book so much she carried it around everywhere and has read it about three times in the past seven weeks or so.

The D’Aulaires’ Greek Myths Set is part of the third grade curriculum for classical studies from Memoria Press. The workbook is designed to be used with grades three through six. The student workbook and teacher guide divides the book into twenty-five lessons. Drawing pages and review lessons are scattered within as well as a final exam. Each lesson begins with the pages to read from the text, facts to know  and vocabulary questions. These were followed by comprehension 20160516_101937 (480x640)questions and activities. The activities mostly involved going back through he text and to identify items and individuals and filling out a list of facts to know in the back of the student workbook. Other questions were for comparing and contrasting Biblical stories and Greek myths, drawing activities (my daughter’s favorite!), memorization exercises, and deeper discussion questions. Some of these questions are ideal for composition assignments. Reference maps, pronunciation guide, drill questions and lists are in the back of the back of the student workbook.

20160517_183952 (480x640)The teacher’s guide is a replica of the student workbook with the answers filled in. The guide also has reproducible exams along with the answer keys. The front of the guide contains very informative instructions on how to use the guide and integrate the workbook into memory work, copywork, vocabulary, spelling and handwriting practice. The guide also includes an informative essay on why we should study Greek myths today.

20160517_184443 (480x640)The set also comes with flash cards. The cards are numbered to the corresponding lesson in the student workbook. The cards contain the information that Memoria Press feels the student needs to remember from the course and relates to the list of 100 questions in the back of the book. They are an excellent review tool. The teacher’s guide does not mention the flash cards or how to use them. So, when I went to the homeschool convention last month I had the opportunity to discuss the use of the flash cards with an associate at their booth. 20160516_101951 (480x640)The people at Memoria Press have always been very friendly anytime I’ve had a question about their curriculum either in person or through email.

My daughter enjoyed working through the workbook and loved the D’Aulaire’s Book of Greek Myths. I told her she didn’t have to finish the workbook since I would be posting this review but she has enjoyed the study so much (and the one on one time with me) that she wants to finish the course. That is the best recommendation I can offer!

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Sunday Journal: Curtains and Car Cruise-in

Oldest mowing

Oldest mowing

We’ve been looking forward to this week for a few months. Co-op ended. I think the middle two did enjoy co-op somewhat but not enough to feel sad at its ending. I will miss my friend who labored in the nursery with me but hopefully we will find some opportunities to meet up. She’s adorable. I took the kids out for milkshakes afterward and we discussed the term. We spent a bit of time exploring the pros and cons of group learning and if it was something we’d ever like to try again. For now, the answer is no.

learning to make spoon bread

learning to make spoon bread

Middle Boy spent the night at a friend’s house this weekend for his first sleepover. He had a blast playing Minecraft and celebrating his friend’s birthday. While he was partying the rest of us drove to a nearby town for a classic car cruise-in. This cruise-in was nice because many of the downtown shops remained open. I found a lovely cuff bracelet with “be brave” stamped across it. Since “brave” is my word focus for the year I was thrilled over my little treasure. The cars were nice too. I saw a truck that I loved but forgot to take a picture.

curtains and decorated mantel

curtains and decorated mantel

Speaking of “brave”. The Brave Writer retreat is coming up soon and I still haven’t started my art project for it yet. I am kinda struggling on what it means “to be good to me” and how to artistically express the meaning…if I ever figure out exactly what that means.

Sparkles got her new and very simple sewing machine in this week. Everyone made Robin Hood hats for our upcoming

Littlest

Littlest

Medieval celebration. Middle Boy even insisted that Poetry Bunny get his own hat. I also ordered a sewing project book for Sparkles to work through to learn sewing techniques. She is looking forward to all of the projects and I will be learning right beside her. I am hoping that after we spend a year or two using this simple machine and learning with a couple of books she will know enough to take off on her own.

20160510_130815 (480x640)I’ve also told the boys to think about projects they would like to work on this year. Oldest thinks he would like to spend time learning to make stop-motion movies. We already have the equipment so that was easy for me to give the thumbs up. Middle Boy just has no clue on the sort of projects that he would like to work on…I jokingly suggested knitting and he said, “that sounds fun!”

I have no idea how to knit.

Friends came to visit this weekend so we worked on the house a bit. We put up pictures, cleared some of the clutter and hung 20160511_104029 (480x640)curtains. This place is actually starting to look like a home. My husband and I joked with each other that we should have company more often just so we could get everything unpacked and in order!

Tomorrow I am taking a planning day to get the homeschool in order for the next nine weeks and work on the next review for Memoria Press. Oldest will be finishing up his paper for Medieval history and we have one final discussion over Machiavelli and some of his thoughts on evil and power. Hopefully I’ll get the final post up on our Medieval studies for Beautiful Feet Books too. We’ve enjoyed these books so much and the kids are already looking forward to our upcoming American history studies through BFB.

025 (640x480)We enjoyed a lovely week…even if it was a bit too rainy and cool. There is only one picture of poetry tea time this week. I was engaged in a web conference with the Homeschool Alliance (discussing punctuation!?!…of all things) and the kids grew tired of waiting for it to end. So they performed poetry tea time on their own. I consider that a success. They set the table, read poetry to each other, saved a treat for me and enjoyed each other’s company. Kinda beautiful ya’know.

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

TOS Review: ARTistic Pursuits Inc. Sculpture Technique Model

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Experience, education and appreciation in the arts is important to us as a family. We are long time appreciative customers of ARTistic Pursuits Inc. and absolutely enjoyed the offer to use their Sculpture Technique Model in our home.

“Pyramids, cathedrals, and rockets exist not because of geometry, theories of structures, or thermodynamics, but because they were first a picture– literally a vision–in the minds of those who built them. Society is where it is today because people had the perception; the images and the imagination; the creativity that the Arts provide, to make the world the place we live in today.”

Eugene Ferguson, Historian

Sculpture%20Technique%20Model_zpsa5t3bgktThe Model book is intended to follow the Sculpture Technique Construct book and both books are intended to be used by upper elementary through high school students. We had no trouble using or understanding the instructions in this book even though we had not used the previous Construct text.

The text is divided into three units on mass, scale and surface. Each unit ends with an evaluation that the student can do on their own or as a test for those who need such information for portfolios or outside evaluations. The author (Brenda Ellis) also includes her own classroom schedule that covers the course over

text and our felt sheet

text and our felt sheet

thirty-six weeks for an hour and a half once a week. We chose to work through unit three using wool roving and learning felting techniques. Each unit can be worked through in any order and the felting unit fit in nicely with our Medieval history studies.

Obtaining the art supplies locally turned out to be a bit tricky. Fortunately, the company pre-picked everything you would need for each unit through Blick Art Materials. Just go to ARTistic Pursuits Inc. website and click on “art supply packs”. Scroll to the bottom of the page for the instructions on ordering the materials you need. I ordered the recommended items for the unit. I was very happy with the supplies and we had

making felt flower

making felt flower

enough to do all of the projects with three kids. We also have plenty of wool roving remaining for future projects. We did not like the special felting mat and found using a regular kitchen sponge easier. The sponge also did not pull and frizz the wool as much as the felting mat. So save yourself a few buck and just pick up some sponges at the dollar store.

Unit three opened with a discussion on texture and color theory. We also studied and discussed a picture of a lovely sculpture at the beginning of the unit. We then dived into our first project

felt flowers and bird

felt flowers and birds

which was creating felt sheets. The directions in the book were easy to follow with very clear instructions. With this project I discovered that my palms turn red and itch horribly after handling wool. I wore disposable gloves for the rest of the projects. However, none of the kids had any issues. We used the felt sheets to create flowers and feathers.

The next project was to make and decorate stockings with the wool. We chose to make Robin hood style hats instead for our upcoming Medieval feast. We sewed together some very simple

sewing wool hat

sewing wool hat

wool hats and then used the various techniques in the next chapter to create rosettes, feathers and flowers for our hats. The text also taught us how to make a felted vase, birds and animals. We did not made a vase but we did use the technique to create a nest for one of the little birds.

piggy

piggy

We had a lot of fun making our felt creations. We use the flowers and little birds as a centerpiece for our poetry teatime table scapes every week. I couldn’t let the kids have all the fun and spent a bit of time myself making a little pig from Angry Bird’s for my youngest to play with.

ARTistic Pursuits Inc. is one of our favorite curriculums.

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Sunday Journal: Two Weeks

 

My husband snapped this pic of the Mystery Machine

My husband snapped this pic of the Mystery Machine

Last weekend my mother came in for a visit. My husband had the good sense to run off with a friend to Dallas for the Texas Frightmare Weekend. His travel buddy was none other than Rik of the Hail Ming Power Hour podcast. My fella knows some interesting people. I’m just glad he has someone to go to horror conventions with because there are way too many scary clowns hanging around those places for my peace of mind. However, I must confess, during the times I was alone with my mom the clowns didn’t seem so bad…maybe.

Mom and kids playing Apples to Apples

Mom and kids playing Apples to Apples

I think the kids had a pretty good visit with mom. They played games with her pretty much non-stop. I took several walks, read on the back porch, watch a ton of Star Trek Next Generation and cleaned a bathroom or two. Mostly, I stayed out-of-the-way. Usually, I try to make meals that she likes and such and these acts of goodwill on my part end up with a scolding. Then I get mad and feel…hurt, angry, rejected. So, why bother? I made myself scarce and encouraged the kids to play every game we owned with her.

reading outside waiting for a storm

reading outside waiting for a storm

The couple of times we were alone together were cold, silent and awkward. She passed on some unsolicited parenting and marital advice because I’m such a failure in those areas…

There are brief moments when psychotic clowns seem friendly.

The kids and I spent the past week learning to felt (for a review later this week). We learned to make felt sheets, sew felt, wet felting and needle felting. We had a lot of fun together and basically crammed six weeks worth of art curriculum into one

piggy

piggy

week. I liked the needle felting and even made a piggy from Angry Birds for Littlest. I would have enjoyed it more if the wool didn’t make me feel like ripping the skin of my palms. Oh so itchy!!! I did happen to snap a priceless picture of Oldest just as he stabbed himself with the needle pen! Sweet!

Our school lessons are beginning to wrap up. Oldest has a paper to write on Columbus and he will be finished with medieval history. This academic year is quickly wrapping up. We are already starting to work on our plans for our medieval feast. Our most exciting news is that we will also wrap

Oldest painting

Oldest painting

up our year with the local co-op this Wednesday. We’ve decided to never ever try to join a co-op in the future. We’ve tried a few times and it just hasn’t worked out for us. The kids want to celebrate the end of co-op this week…I’m still thinking about how to do so.

My husband and Oldest went to work on our old house over the weekend. They painted and fixed things up the best they could in a day for an open house this next weekend. Hopefully, the family God intends to live in that house will make it their home soon.

 

 

Linking up with Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers

DIY Vanilla Extract and Vanilla Sugar Extract

vanilla extract prep

vanilla extract prep

I am prepping for Christmas today. I prefer to use homemade vanilla extract and vanilla infused sugar for all of my baked goodies and treats. These only take minutes to prepare but months to reach perfection! The first week of June is my personal deadline for prepping vanilla goodies for the Christmas season. Other cooks may say you need less time for extracts and infused sugars but six months suit my preferences.

My vanilla devotion may be on the extreme side…

Vanilla Extract

finished bottle of vanilla extract

finished bottle of vanilla extract

One bottle of vodka at least 70 proof (or 35% alcohol) and five vanilla beans or so. I prefer to use 100 proof vodka. You can also use rum, bourbon, brandy or sherry. I plan to get a bottle of rum or bourbon ready soon for making Christmas candy.

Carefully split the vanilla bean (I use grade A Madagascar) down the middle. I try to only cut one side of the bean but nothing bad will happen if you cut all the way through. Then drop the bean into the bottle of alcohol. About five beans per bottle is plenty for a six month wait time. If you want the extract ready sooner then add more beans. Keep the bottle in

new bottle ready to marinate for six months

new bottle ready to marinate for six months

a cool dark spot and give it a shake once in a while. I consider the extract ready to use once it smells like warm wonderful vanilla instead of alcohol.

After six months the extract can be poured into another bottle or into several little bottles for easy Christmas gifts. I then pour another bottle of alcohol into the bottle with the beans because it is so much easier than fishing the beans out! Cut and add one more bean and store for another six months. I’ve only used the beans twice for making extract. Rebottle the new extract and shake the old beans out this time around.

Wrap the used beans in a paper towel and leave out on the counter to dry. Once they are dry I will store some of them in the refrigerator and use them to make chai. Another wonderful use for the used pods is in making vanilla infused sugar.

Vanilla Infused Sugar

vanilla sugar prep

vanilla sugar prep

Vanilla sugar is another easy trick that will make your homemade treats even tastier. If I have a used vanilla bean (or three) then I will simply bury it in about three cups of sugar in an airtight container. After about a month the sugar will have a nice hint of vanilla that is wonderful in teas and makes the best snickerdoodles.

If I am using a fresh vanilla bean then I carefully split the bean and scrape out the teeny tiny seeds. The seeds are mixed with the sugar in an airtight container. Then just bury the open bean pod in the sugar too. This sugar will be ready to use in a couple of weeks and will begin to turn a lovely shade of light brown.

Cute containers of vanilla sugar also make nice and easy Christmas gifts.

Sunday Journal: Low Ebb and Dreams

poetry tea time

poetry tea time

Nearly all of my free time this week was spent in pre-planning. I have a freewrite list of ideas for this summer and our upcoming year. A hopeful list of wishes full of mommy-school pipe dreams. Every year I have written this list of radical desires and every year I have tossed it into the garbage bin. I pour my heart into a list of dreams and then shred my desires blood-red into oblivion and accept the conventional path of education.

I’ve got an opinion on conventional and it begins with “F” and ends with “it!” Sorry…well not really. Conventional gets you Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton as presidential candidates…what happened to my country?!

Middle Boy

Middle Boy

I’ve spent some time pondering and remembering what I wanted these years to be. What sort of memories do I want my children to have when I am nothing but dust in the ground? This time I tossed the conventional and kept the dreams. I am not tackling every idea this year…just two…maybe three.

First we will learn nearly every subject together. I’ve dropped every curriculum we have used except Beautiful Feet Books and Brave Writer. I really cannot express how huge and scary that feels. Our read aloud time will move up to three hours per day. I’ve had to take some criticism for that choice from other homechoolers but after listening to Rea Berg, Andrew Pudewa and hours of personal research I stand by my decision.

Sonatina saturday

Sonatina saturday

This year we are going to study the poetry of mathematics. I haven’t found much to help me with this desire. I admire mathematicians. They see beauty and the Creator’s artistic expression like I try to grasp a fading dream upon wakefulness. I see the beauty of mathematical language but cannot articulate with any clarity. About three months ago I found this article by Paul Lockhart. I spent a month really trying to digest its meaning. Lockhart is like the stentorian Old Testament prophets of ancient

Sparkles

Sparkles

times. Seriously raging! Beautiful and confusing. I think Lockhart makes some very interesting points but he is both overly idealistic and pessimistic. Math isn’t the only subject screwed up by the educational system in America. Even I found a way to learn and love math (just algebra mostly), despite the way its taught. Applied math in the everyday mundane in not only relevant but also useful, beautiful, and kinda fun. Most importantly people have different learning preferences and some of them do prefer structured traditional curriculum with lots of repetition. Lockhart’s article is fascinating (and really long) and I’d love to hear any thoughts or opinions on the matter.

Littlest during his first official read aloud time

Littlest during his first official read aloud time

Anyway, we started out literature based study of mathematics with a lovely book called “Chasing Vermeer” by Blue Balliett. Amazing book!!!

I’ve poured so much of myself onto preparing and planning that I’ve suffered with low energy. I slept in every day this week and barely prepared any meals (my poor family!) I plan to be a much better mother and wife this week and get my head out of the planning cloud…

This week Littlest officially joined us for read aloud time and started his learning to read studies. We only did school twice with him this week and I am happy with that. By mid July he will be working and learning in a full-time schedule. I’m not in as big a hurry as he seems to be.

Older three out with Daddy for the weekend

Older three out with Daddy for the weekend

The older three traveled to western Kentucky this weekend to play piano before judges. I did not get to go because Littlest had a fever and needed to stay home. The older three did okay but not great. I constantly struggled with them to put in the proper amount of time to truly learn their Sonatinas by heart…and was met with constant opposition. I have to confess that I let them fail. Tomorrow I will discuss their results and judges comments. They will feel sad and the sting of disappointment. Sometimes failure is the only way to grow. Now, they will listen when I explain to them why they must practice for an extended time each day. I have several quotes from Mr. Suzuki prepared for them to copy in their notebooks this week. I felt terribly guilty that I had to stay home with Littlest and leave my husband to prepare them for their concert. They all had a tough weekend…

sick Littlest trying to play

sick Littlest trying to play

My mother arrives on Friday…my long time readers know how hard this will be for me. She never has a kind word for me and seems to enjoy telling me just what an awful and wretched human being I have turned out to be. I am a disappointment to her. I took a path in life for which she has no respect…and I refuse to offer apologies. If you pray (and I honestly do not care to which God you offer supplications) please ask that I humbly keep my tongue and temper…

Linking up with: Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers