Thursday, August 25, 2011

Finish and New Start

Jerry and I started watching Midsomer Murders on Netflix - again. This time, Netflix's instant viewing unpredictability was a good thing - they have added more Midsomer Murders. Last night I started stitching 'The Harvesters' by Little House Needleworks. I don't have the overdyed orange called for, but I have decided to use one of the dozens of overdyed oranges I have on hand. I also plan to change the little boy into a little girl to represent my daughter.

Cue the Count from Sesame Street: I have 1, 1 lovely Christmas ornament - Ha! Ha! Ha!

Only 11 more to go to meet my Christmas ornament a month goal! WhooHoo! ;) hmmm....

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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Colonial Stitching

I have big plans for this design by Little House Needleworks! I need to get some more acid-free foam board and get blocking!
I always set a goal of 1 Christmas ornament a month. So here is a start on my 1st ornament of the year in month 8. Hmmmm, I don't know if I will catch up! This is a design from Tristan Brook's 'Christmas in the Colonies.' I love the colors!

It is so difficult this time of year - I know I should be doing Christmas stitching, but the slight, very slight, nip in the air this morning makes me want to pull out the autumnal stitching. What are you working on?

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Friday, August 19, 2011

Weekly Report 15 August-19 August

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." ~Emilie Buchwald

Nutmeg finished St. Thomas More of London this week and wrote a literary narration a la the Well-Trained Mind. I was apprehensive about this exercise. Tuesday, I fortified myself with the WTM, questions from a lecture, and an audio of the lecture itself. Thursday, I took a deep breath and discussed the story with my child, then asked her to write about 2 or 3 of the things we had discussed. Susan Wise Bauer was exactly right about the parent needing to remain firm and extract the answers from the child! Whew! Nutmeg is now reading The Shakespeare Stealer, and we will follow the same pattern of discussing and writing.

I am using one of my favorite grammar resources with Buttercup: Oral Language Exercises It is simple, yet effective for practicing good speaking habits. Buttercup is also enjoying 101 Dalmations as a read aloud. There are so many interesting little details not in the movie!

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it."~Winston Churchill

History is a driving force in our learning style. At the top of my history syllabus I have this quotation from The Well-Trained Mind, "History is the training ground where the student learns to organize and evaluate information." That strikes me every time I read it. In high school I took an AP history course; I received my college credits, but I cannot claim to have organized and evaluated anything in particular. On the one hand, I am frustrated that I did not learn "enough" in middle and high school. On the other hand, I am relieved to think that my children will, Deo volente, have many years of learning and discovery after their formal schooling as I have had.

As I prepare to teach American history this year, I am rediscovering my text books from that long ago AP course. I detested them. I always relished the story of history, the narrative, not the documents and letters from which the narrative is derived. The Well-Trained Mind puts greater and greater emphasis on primary source documents; in high school, the readings are almost exclusively primary sources. I understand now that children need to be taught gradually what to do with primary sources and also why one should do anything with them at all. It is a disservice to the student to spend 8 or 10 years reading regurgitations in a history textbook, and then to be handed a book of the letters of the Founding Fathers.

With all that in mind we will be using primary sources this year. We also have begun looking at history books critically and discovering the bias of the author. This week we looked at several different books and their treatment of Mary I, Elizabeth I, and Mary Queen of Scots. We specifically analyzed the wording used to describe Mary I's imprisonment of Elizabeth I vs. Elizabeth I's imprisonment of Mary Queen of Scots. The bias is astounding and often subtle. I consider this a critical exercise. We also explored truth vs. whole truth as we looked at the motivations for the epithet "Bloody Mary." She alone is held accountable to history for her actions, without putting her actions in the context of what was going on in all parts if Europe. (She wasn't the only Tudor to execute religious dissidents - that doesn't make her executions good, but she shouldn't be the only monarch branded with such a grisly sobriquet.)

Arts & Crafts

I purchased Kids Knitting, and Nutmeg is revisiting yarn and needles. I hope that this time both she and I can progress beyond one-stitch scarves! Several years ago I bought Catch the Sewing Bug! I am going through it again in preparation for starting it next week. Sewing machines stress me out - probably because I hate reading instruction manuals! Now I have a Cunning Plan - I will train my girls to use the sewing machine. Then they will be able to thread it for their mommie and make all of her needlework into pillows! Ha Ha!

Filling in the Gaps

We use our state's library system to the full; I frequently request books from all corners of Georgia. I teach the girls how to find things and encourage a wide range of interests. Lately I have been discouraged that Nutmeg has checked and rechecked out stacks of Emily Rhodda books and Stars Wars Enyclopedias to the exclusion of anything else! I am finally putting the library suggestions in the WTM into practice. This week the girls were required to check out a book about any science topic, one art/artist book, one biography, and one history or geography book. I have also subscribed to Nature Friend magazine. The library books and nature magazine are my two new strategies to "fill in the gaps." There are many benefits from studying one period of history or one branch of science per year. The downside is, of course, the long periods of time before (formally) revisiting the information. I am renewing my efforts to compensate for this downside with these additional readings.

The Joy of Numbers?

Math is not my favorite subject. Since the beginning of our homeschool journey, I have tried not to pass on that intense dislike to my children. Unfortunately, Nutmeg has it in spades! She is still struggling through Saxon 6/5. We lost our DIVE dvd last year during the move; I have finally forked over the big bucks to replace it. I am not a math teacher. I really, really hope this new dvd will help Nutmeg power through math!

This weekend I will be putting the finishing touches on my learning plans for next week. I would love to plan further, but every time I try to plan more than a couple of weeks in advance, something happens. A unexpected appointment, errand, or visit is sure to present itself! :)


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Coffee & Stitches

Growing up, I was not especially keen on coffee. 14 1/2 years of marriage to Louisiana Man has done much to change that! Louisiana Man makes coffee so thick and dark it looks like pipe sludge. My newest start will look beautiful (one day) framed in my coffee nook with Paulette's coffee freebie.

I was feeling so confident after finishing a WIP, 'The Mermaid,' that I dug around and found 'Mary Queen of Scots' (sans alphabet) by Papillon. I emailed and requested the french version of Mary's motto. It is so pretty! Why, oh, why did I ever put it down?

I am itching to start both the above and the below designs from Brenda Keyes' Traditional Samplers. I checked it out from the library 2 weeks ago. I haven't started either yet, so I might need to recheck it or purchase a used copy somewhere! The colors in my pictures aren't great, but trust me, both have beautiful color combinations!

I am also working on kitting up some small travel-sized projects to take along now that the girls' activities have started. Nutmeg was asked to join her dance school's competitive dance team. One mom told me they spent 12 hours one day at competition. Sounds like stitching time for me!!

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Weekly Report 8 August-12 August

For my stitchy friends: Don't despair! I have some new projects to show you tomorrow! If homeschooling posts cause your eyes to glaze over, check out my finishes on the previous post, or scroll down and read about Buttercup's library tantrum. ;)

"If Music be the Food of Love..." ~William Shakespeare

Monday we started with violin. We have a new violin teacher this year; beginning next week she will be teaching 10 minutes from our house. This summer we have been driving an hour. She has a completely different approach than Nutmeg's former teacher - this one is all about technique. This has been a bit stressful for the entire family. Instead of listening to pleasant tunes, we hear odd, scuffly noises as Nutmeg tries to come to grips with a new bow hold, new bowings, and some other new things I forget. It's different...but Nutmeg is being a trooper about it. Thursday Nutmeg met her new piano teacher. I think they are going to be a great team! Buttercup starts her piano program next week; she cannot wait to get back to her class!

"The past is never dead. It's not even past." ~William Faulkner

We are valiantly trying to finish Story of the World volume 2. I added so much in to our syllabus last year, that I knew we would never finish on time. When I start to worry, I try and appreciate that I have chosen to teach history in 3 cycles of 4 years each. No lasting damage will occur if we study Mary Queen of Scots at the beginning of Year 3 or the end of Year 2. Indeed, it looks as though she will be our bridge between the two years.

This week we briefly covered Luther and the Tudors. I chose not to use the Story of the World chapters for these topics. I used All Ye Lands for Luther, and The History of England for Catholic Children from 1850 for the Tudors. I also was able to just talk to my children because this is an area I have read quite a bit about. Nutmeg is reading St. Thomas More of London. I think this book will pull the various ideas and personalities of this time together and anchor them in her mind. Nutmeg also wrestled with creating a Tudor/Stuart family tree. And yes, we could not resist the grisly "divorced, beheaded, died, divorced, beheaded, survived," chant. **shudder** For me, those women come alive in the pages of Alison Weir's The Six Wives of Henry VIII. God have mercy on their souls!

I really wish there was some sort of Shakespeare Club around here. Let me clarify that: some sort of Shakespeare Club that someone else planned and executed - My plate is full! Shakespeare is covered in SOTW vol 2, but as an English Major, I believe he is always relevant! I think Year 3 (1600-1850) is an even better time to concentrate on the Bard and those who performed his plays. I have three Folger Library books Shakespeare Set Free, but I have yet to figure out how to make them work for my girls. They are definitely designed for a group setting. I would love to think I have the extra time and organizational skills to put together some awesome Shakespeare curriculum that could be used by large or small families throughout one year. Do all homeschooling mothers fantasize about putting together and selling life-changing curricula?

Many times my teaching becomes paralyzed as I wait to discover or create, and then implement the perfect lesson plan. "The perfect is the enemy of the good" is not my favorite sentiment, but it is often true in homeschool. So while I dream of writing a fabulous Shakespeare curriculum, I have a basic, simple, and tentative plan: We will listen to one retelling by Mary and Charles Lamb while we drive to piano on Thursdays. On Fridays, we will look through a book about Shakespeare's life, and attempt one or two of the 21 activities from Shakespeare for Kids

This is not an exciting plan.

Until an exciting plan presents itself (or until I stop sleeping and create the perfect Shakespeare curriculum), this will ensure my children have some acquaintance with the Bard.

Yesterday we read a beautifully illustrated retelling of The Tempest by Bruce Coville. In the car, we listened to the same story retold by the Lambs. After that we listened to Airs and Dances of Shakespeare's Time. This album is one of my favorites, and the girls recognized it immediately. Now, they can add and connect Shakespeare's name and immortal words to the music already in their mental files. Today we are making a pomander from Shakespeare for Kids.

"English: A language that lurks in dark alleys, beats up other languages and rifles through their pockets for spare vocabulary."

With a couple of exceptions, Language Arts continued much as it always does around here. Buttercup received her first Rod & Staff spelling book this week, and is very excited. She seems to want to work straight through like she does with her Explode the Code workbooks! She must listen during school: Yesterday, while I was on the treadmill, I saw her sitting at my place at the school table drilling her "class" (very likely Jar-Jar Binks, Heidi, Hyacinth Bucket, and Harry Potter) on pronouns!

Buttercup had a dramatic turning point a month or so ago. My mother signed Buttercup up for the summer reading program at the library. Buttercup accrued many hours listening to books on tape and to her family reading to her. One day at the library, I told her she would be checking out three library books to read. She proceeded to throw a whopper of a tantrum! "I hate books!" "I hate reading!" Book-laden Nutmeg fled to the other end of the library. My knees began knocking, and my book-filled life flashed before my eyes. Librarians looked at us over the rims of their glasses. It was mortifying.

Suddenly Buttercup stopped. "May I have your card and go to the check-out desk by myself?" "Uh, um, OK, sure." She grabbed some books from the shelf and marched herself proudly up the front desk. For the rest of the day, she would say, "Don't interrupt me - don't you see I have my nose in a book?" I don't know quite how it happened, but Buttercup has become a Reader!

Next week I hope to write more about our science, art, and handcraft studies.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Cross Stitch Finishes

It is amazing that I found some stitching time this past week! I finished "The Mermaid" by CHS. I changed 'Margaret Mailey' to 'Margaret Mary' just because. I thought I was stitching it for Nutmeg's bathroom, but now I am not so sure. LOL!

I have been attracted to Darlene O'Steen patterns for years, and have collected several. Her small designs are incredibly complex! She always includes stitches I have never dreamed of! This is the first time I have done queen stitches with two colors per stitch! I left out some of the satin stitch on the blue backstitch band. No matter how many times I tried it, it just looked messy.

I have mentioned before that I spent (and still do spend) hours poring over my mom's old cross stitch magazines from the eighties and early nineties. I am still amazed that in so many issues, among the patterns for geese with ribbons, geese with laundry baskets, geese starting the first day of school, and geese baking pies, I occasionally find a truly timeless design such as one by Darlene O'Steen or this design by Kandace Thomas. I can't wait to start it although I don't know what the last word of the second line says. I assume it is "was," but that is not exactly what the chart says.
My mom also gave me another "vintage" design this weekend. I would like to start it also.

A special thank you to my stitching friends for being patient and understanding about my homeschool post last Friday. I will only post them on Fridays, and the title will always be "Weekly Report. Feel free to skip if that is not your cup of tea! :)

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Friday, August 5, 2011

Weekly Report 1 August-5 August

I like to think of this past Monday as the first day of our new school year. The truth is we never really ended our previous school year- we just slowed way down for summer. Year-round learning aside, the idea of a fresh new start on Monday August the 1st is irresistible and rejuvenating. We only had formal learning for three days this week so the girls could spend a long, last summer weekend with my parents. However, this short week was necessary to establish new routines before the insane driving to dance and piano classes resumes next week! And so I armed myself with a fresh custom-made lesson planner and 20 ounces of Silk french vanilla soy creamer coffee and headed down to the school room.


There seem to be two common responses when anyone hears that I homeschool: "I could never homeschool," and "What is your homeschool philosophy?" Well, I sometimes respond to the first, if you help your children with three hours of homework per night, you are homeschooling!
My response to the second is generally a deep, thoughtful, "I dunna know." The labels mean different things to different people, and I certainly do not spend my precious time researching the labels! I am attracted to the ideas and methods I read on Charlotte Mason-inspired blogs such as Evlogia and Wildflowers and Marbles , and while I implement some ideas, I can't say I am a CM homeschooler by any means.

All along I have wanted my girls to have a rigorous, challenging, and what I think of as traditional education. My ideas of traditional education were formed by a lifetime of reading 19th century novels. ;)

My mother had been a high school English teacher. She has always been a great reader. In fact, I remember my dad telling us semi-jokingly not to let Mom get hold of a book or she would never make supper! (My father is a great reader also. In order to physically get to my father, one must navigate stacks and stacks of books!) When I was in high school, I frequently found 19th century classics lying on my bed. My mother told me she wanted me to read and enjoy them before a teacher ruined them for me. I did, and in those books I found girls who learned Latin, needlework, catechism, tuberculosis, drawing, and French. How lucky they were, I thought!

My philosophy has developed quite a bit since those days! I was introduced to The Well-Trained Mind at very beginning of our journey. I have clung to it, all the while freely adapting, disregarding, forgetting, and rediscovering its principles.

I would say I have much in common with my friend Angela the MommyLawyer in matters political, religious, teaching, etc. Yet, with the same goals in mind, we often choose different curricula and materials. All this to say, I find it impossible to define my homeschool philosophy. I want to form my two girls into God-loving, deep-thinking, respectful, creative, honorable, joy-filled young women. A tall order indeed! Although we do "drill, baby, drill" Latin vocabulary and math facts, my favorite moments this week were spent knitting on the couch while Buttercup read to me. I have had the new pleasure in the last few weeks of sitting in the living room cross stitching with my two little needleworkers!


We are still finishing some of our math and grammar from last year; that seems to be our modus operandi! Nutmeg continues Saxon math, Rod & Staff grammar, Writing With Ease, Seton Religion for Young Catholics, Wordly Wise vocabulary, and Latina Christiana II. Buttercup also uses these series.

Other resources are added in, and loved or disregarded as necessary. Currently Nutmeg is trying Winning With Writing. She started in the fifth grade level and is finding it very simple and satisfying so far. She is breezing through the lessons; I hope it gets more challenging. We continue reading aloud Marigold Hunt's The First Christians as an addition to our religion studies. It is chatty and quaint. The girls have maps of St. Paul's journeys from Homeschool in the Woods whereon they trace the journeys of the Apostles and deacons.

History and Science are the subjects that require the most planning and researching. In fact, planning and researching never really end! For History, we will loosely follow Susan Wise Bauer's Well-Trained Mind recommendations using The Story of the World volume 3. This will be Nutmeg's 2nd cycle and Buttercup's 1st. Nutmeg will also be using K12 Human Odyssey volume 2 for outlining and extra reading. We also have a wealth of books from the time period 1600-1850 that I have been adding to since we studied it four years ago. I am looking forward to revisiting some old favorites and including Buttercup in a "Boston Tea Party." I do add quite a bit to the Story of the World for this time period: much more information about the American Colonies and the War for Independence including the very different experiences in the Southern States.

This week in history we studied Michelangelo. We will continue looking at his works for a few more weeks. I read aloud from several books including Amy Steedman's Knights of Art which is available free online. Then the girls crawled under the school table for a small taste of painting the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

Our science this year will be chemistry. I learned last year that I cannot piece together my own science curriculum. That is not where my talents or passions lie. Too often, I become paralyzed by too many resources, too many options. I am going to be following 2 books in the God's Design series, Properties of Matter and Properties of Atoms and Molecules. No, this in no way means I have hitched my wagon to YE, nor do I find mention of YE in these particular texts. What I find is simple yet engaging experiments in an easy to follow text. I was very pleased to find that this curriculum focuses on kitchen and body chemistry as well as the Periodic Table. Some of the experiments I am looking forward to are making soda pop, making perfume, and experimenting with flavors. This week we ended our earth studies with readings on icebergs and glaciers.

My planner is much more comprehensive this year, but I am already thinking of things to add to next year's! At the tops of my history and science syllabuses, I included the appropriate grade-level expectations including reading, narrations, and outlining, as well as inspiring quotations all from The Well-Trained Mind. This will be my 6th year of homeschooling with the WTM, and I think I am going to actually follow it this year! ;)


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I just really cannot think of a title! I have not quite finished Margaret Mailey; I got very little stitching done on our beach trip. I really am enjoying the combination of colors, but I am ready to start something new.
The girls have decided they need Hogwarts scarves for the winter. Nutmeg wants Griffindor, and Buttercup wants Hufflepuff. Today while Buttercup read to me, I started a scarf for myself in anticipation of cooler weather.

I am giving my readers fair warning: I am going to resume Homeschool Friday Weekly Reports this week. If you are uninterested in homeschooling posts, please bear with me! This blog has twisted and turned over the past 4 years. It has been my intention of late to keep this blog a refuge for my stitching identity, but I have missed Weekly Reporting. I intend to only do one homeschool post per week so do not fear! :)

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