Thursday, October 31, 2013

October Gone By

Pumpkin Patch

Pumpkin Carving

Fall CSA Cooking

Fall Outdoor Colors

Fall Tea with our CM Group:
The Large Room

Fall Poetry Recitation
October Winds
by Virginia D. Randall
October winds are new and clean;
They sweep the land for Halloween;
They snatch the leaves from all the trees,
Then soften down to faintest breeze.
They chase the cobwebs from the sky,
They bare the crow's nest, way up high;
They sway the poplars in the park,
They push in storm clouds, gray and dark.
They bring a warning nip of frost,
Reminding birds that summer's lost;
Then gently shoo the flocks away,
Before the winter comes to stay.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Luke the Lizard; Slow and Steady

In a home with six children it should be no surprise that there is a wide spectrum of learners and learning styles.  I continue to stay true to CM methods of education for all of them.  And, honestly, like every caring parent I worry that I'm might be doing something wrong.  Especially, when one does something earlier or even later than another child.  What I'm discovering along the way is that each is learning and thriving at their own pace!  Their strengths are their own! Difficult lesson but a real one.

This week I had one of my ah ha (sigh) moments, everything is all right.  I have a particular child that has the greatest aversion to reading. He understands all the basics of reading and can read.  He just doesn't like it and is struggling with transitioning to independently reading for instruction.  All I can do with him is to continue slow and steady.  Go over the same method and get in daily practice.  There isn't anything wrong with him; that's just not a natural thing for him.  I've learned, though, that he enjoys listening to me read all the time and, oh boy, can he narrate great.  He delights in all the books and stories we read and loves to tag along with his older brother or younger brother when they are reading to me. 

My reluctant reader a year ago.
I have very fast readers and this is my first reluctant reader.  Reading for instruction has been an easy transition for all of them.  I've stuck to my gut and I haven't let their age or reading stage stop us from continuing to use the same wonderful books.  In turn, it hasn't stopped them from enjoying and absorbing all the wonder found within them.
"For the children? They must grow up upon the best.  There must never be a period in their lives when they are allowed to read or listen to twaddle or reading-made-easy.  There is never a time when they are unequal to worthy thoughts, well put; inspiring tales, well told." Charlotte Mason, Volume 2 School Education, pg263
Well, knowing these things about him, I decided that I wasn't going to push much on him...certainly not writing!  So, just like everyone else at this age, the language arts focus has been daily copy work (smaller selections for him, just a few words at a time) and oral narrations.  The idea to ask him to do more than that just wasn't even a thought.  His siblings by now have always shown an eagerness to do more; both in reading and writing.   I have tons of little story, poetry, song books all laying around that they've enjoyed working on; especially, during those let alone times.  I kept worrying that just like the reading there would be no interest in the writing either...
"If we would believe it, composition is as natural as jumping and running to children who have been allowed due use of books. They should narrate in the first place, and they will compose, later, readily enough; but they [children under ten] should not be taught 'composition'. " Charlotte Mason, Volume 1 Home Education pg247.
I should have known better and not worry so much!  Early this week, after one of our readings;  my "reluctant" boy, asked if he could get a notebook from the "notebook" drawer.  Sure, was my response.  I thought he was just going to get a sketch one for drawing/doodling like he usually does.  Minutes passed and I walked over to the counter..."I'm writing a book, is that OK?" he asked.  I'm sure my huge smile and accolades were good responses...

I've already seen about six pages to this story;   they are being done with eagerness and joy.  The reading for instruction will come, but all the other benefits of good books is already here.   I really had no idea how much our work together could produce what he is doing.  I have to keep reminding myself ... Stay true and be steady; there is no rush!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

" a well-fed rajah..."

I had a peaceful moment today : D Last year one of my sons just loved Paddle to the Sea by H.C. Holling so when he saw that there were actually two Holling books on his list he wasn't sure he liked that.  "What if they're not as good?!"  Great question!  But he and his brother didn't hesitate to give them a try.    Today as we were doing our weekly reading of Pagoo (also by Holling) my son just started laughing out loud as I read and then he re-read, repeating:
"He leaned back in his rocking penthouse like a well-fed rajah riding off
 somewhere in his jeweled elephant howdah." H.C. Holling, Pagoo pg34
Well, this became his copy work for the day and I'd say the two books on his list will be just as good as last years ; ) Oh the gift of imagery this author gives to his books is just wonderful.  BTW, the other is Minn of the Mississippi.  (I couldn't help but cut up some yellow watermelon for a little added splash of royalty to our simple ham sandwich lunch today.)

We've been back to school for over two weeks now.  I always worry about the transition but I've realized that every year it gets better.  The slow and persistent work of habits and the choosing of great books pays off.  The kids enjoyed the previous years books so much that they look forward to the new ones on their lists.  The routine of notebooks, copy work, dictation and narrations is no longer a surprise. A new year just feels like an extension of the previous and I just love that!

"The mother who takes pains to endow her children with good habits
secures for herself smooth and easy days..." Charlotte Mason, Vol.1 Home Education pg 136

I hope your school year has started out with "smooth and easy days"! 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

A Family Wedding

The last few months have been filled with anticipation...of the good kind of course.  My husband's youngest sister fulfilled her sacrament of marriage on Friday.  The family was just overjoyed to witness such love and devotion for each other in the presence of God.  Our sincere wishes for them: that God's joy and blessings rein abundant and always present in their lives.

In a few weeks we will miss them dearly as they are moving to another state.  My children are very fond of their auntie and their new uncle.  We hope they will visit often and that they have room for a family of eight to visit them ; )  A few pictures to remember the day for this cyber keepsake of mine:


Danced the last song with Grandma before calling it a night ;-)


Thursday, July 4, 2013

4th of July Tea Time

Happy 4th of July!!!
The kids decided it would be fun to enjoy an (iced) Tea time in celebration of our country's Independence Day.  I made the tea and the yogurt mixture, but the kids made everything else (including some gluten free brownies for mommy).  All the berries were picked fresh on Monday with their great-aunt (berry picking is always lots of fun).  The girls also chose The Star-Spangled Banner by Peter Spier as our featured read.  A nice way for us to spend the day; once again without daddy, but we pray he is safe while he protects and maintains the festivities safe for others.  We hope you've enjoyed your day and fireworks!!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Washington D.C. Part 2: The Art Galleries

The next few days in the Washington D.C. area were pretty much filled with the usual tourist sightseeing hot spots.  I have to admit that I knew my nature girl would be very attracted to the green and natural places, like the U.S. Botanic Garden and the Butterfly Pavilion at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History:

I was a little surprised, however, at how many Art Galleries and Museums she chose to visit.  Or maybe I just didn't realize how including artist and picture study in our days has become another amazingly wonderful natural part of our lives.  Days in which she now can appreciate and seek the beauty for herself:


She was tickled about "Miners in the Sierras" it was part of our CA History year.

Her appreciation did not stop at the galleries either.  We visited places where she would comment on how much she enjoyed statues, murals, mosaics, and structures:


I'm always pleased to see my children enjoy themselves this way, but I have to admit my favorite part is when they want to share the connections they've made with other areas they've feasted on as well.  This makes for such delightful and pleasant days ; )
"We cannot measure the influence that one or another artist has upon the child's sense of beauty, upon his power of seeing, as in a picture, the common sights of life; he is enriched more than we know in having really looked at even a single picture."
-Charlotte Mason, Volume 1 Home Education, pg 202 in the 2008 Wilder Publication

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Washington D.C. in June Part 1

My 9yo daughter and I recently returned from a memorable trip to the east coast.  It started with some wonderful time spent in the very green and cozy Ferrum College campus in Ferrum, Virginia; site of the Charlotte Mason Institute Conference.  This was a great event.  Both my daughter and I found comfort and comradery in an amazing CM community.  Everyone we met was lovely and I'm, honestly, still mulling over the abundance of thoughts and wisdom I gained.

The lake was her favorite spot on the campus.
Energized and refreshed we headed to D.C. for a special mother-daughter sightseeing vacation.   I've done this trip before with my oldest daughter and knowing well that my girls are two unique individuals I wasn't quiet sure what our destinations points would be this time. Well, I was right.  I ended up visiting different places because my nature girl had a few things already in mind ; )

After attending mass at the nearby church of St. Mary in Alexandria we headed to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate (just a gorgeous drive down the Parkway along the Potomac):

She's trying to figure out what she wants to add to her nature journal

 She chose the Cone Flower ; ) because it was the pinkest one there

"Look he practiced copy work too!"  She couldn't get over that.


Next, we spent some time near the National Mall and nearby monuments; as well a quick look at the White House:

Thus, concluded our very busy first day in the D.C. area.  I'll leave you with this friends:

There is nothing which can better deserve our patronage than the promotion of science and literature. Knowledge is in every country the surest basis of public happiness.”  
-George Washington
address to Congress, 8 January, 1790

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Botanical Garden and Little Keepers

Our Little Keepers group has been working on earning five pins for the year.  Among them is a Wildflowers pin, which they began in February.  We've had our monthly meetings and worked on some of the following. They created some flashcards (picture of flower on one side/name on the other) and then at our next meeting they quizzed each other for recognition.  I also read a chapter from Shanleya's Quest: Botany Adventure for Kids to study our Mustard flower a bit more.  I gave the girls a diagram as well.  I'll take a moment to say that the green book was a must buy since my nature girl wanted to learn more about Wildflowers than just what we covered in our monthly meetings.  She has really enjoyed How To Know the Wild Flowers and pulls it out after every hike we take.

On a different meeting the girls brought in some samples of wildflowers and then made a great effort to watercolor dry brush their flowers (I should also mention that they were encouraged to bring some poetry about wildflowers to share at every meeting):

And now we come to our last meeting of the year, in which, we decided to head to our local Botanical Garden and take a nature walk.  The girls enjoyed this!  They took a stroll through the garden; they were able to pick out some wildflowers we'd talked about, looked up a few unknown in my field guide and enjoyed other wonderful living things on the trail : D


Before meeting the rest of the moms and siblings for cookies and juice (and lots of playing time)  the girls gathered in a circle.  One of our youngest member recited part of a poem the girls memorized for recitation at the beginning of our school year.  It sums up our group and another wonderful year together:

by Charles D. Meigs
Lord, help me live from day to day
In such a self-forgetful way,
That even when I kneel to pray,
My prayer shall be for others.
Others, Lord, yes others,
Let this my motto be:
Help me to live for others,
That I live like Thee.