Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Small Successes


I found this in my blogging travels and while I realize that this has been around for ages, I also see it as something I need to do to deal with the increasing frustrations of "A long journey in the same direction."

My three small success achievements for this week

  1. Working on loving my engineer without stressing over his inability to follow directions. We've managed to get through a week without going head to head - which is a big change. (This is a bit more than a small success - but its happening in small quiet ways so I'm hoping it counts.)

  2. I've managed to work my pantry down to manageable levels - for a while there we were constantly over-supplied with some things and yep really low on others. No rhyme or reason - now we are heading back into a pattern.

  3. I managed a really relaxed Sunday, no stress lots of fun, at least until the phone rang that evening, but that's a different story.

To get to the home of the Small Success posts head here To participate, just write up a list of 3 of your recent Small Successes and post it on your blog along with the Small Successes button (go here to get the code). You are not required to use the button, but please do link back to the main post here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Simple Patchwork Daybook

Outside my window...

Its a cool clear post storm day.

I am listening to...

Chris Rice "Clumsy" I'd forgotten how uplifting good Christian music can be.

I am thinking...

How much I am looking forward to heading away for my first Christian homeschooler's retreat next month...

I am thankful for...

A husband who has learned to understand me and love me.

From the learning rooms...

Umm... I'm writing this in avoidance of getting my planning sorted for tomorrow - we're playing catch up on a day that went south.

From the kitchen...

Smells of a Winter casserole - the kids helped clean out my vege bin, peeling carrots chopping leeks. Healing fun!

I am wearing...

A Denim skirt and soft, lilac, wool jersey - crash clothes, comfy and casual.

I am reading...

Composition in the Classical Tradition - in an effort to give some structure to our writing lessons. As much as I love Classical Writing and the progym I need a more relaxed expression of it if its going to work in our home-school.

I am praying for ...

Reconciliation in a difficult relationship, and being spared the storm that is probably coming in it.

I am hearing...

My oldest and youngest laughing over strategy in a game of chess.

Around the house...

The clutter of a day that God sidetracked in the middle.

One of my favorite things...

Watching a fantail play among the trees of our garden.

A few plans for the rest of the week:

I am looking forward to coffee with the girls tommorrow and a peaceful lazy long weekend ahead with no early morning soccer games - soccer is fun, but then an old fashhioned lazy Saturday is luxury

Here is picture thought I am sharing...

In the tradition of the
Simple Womans Daybook

Poetry and Patriarchs

Planning hit a hitch tonight - we'll be winging it from the teachers manual of Classical Writing Poetry tomorrow. Hubby borrowed the Student guide when he was researching for a couple of poetry classes at school. He left it on his desk. At least I'm hoping he did. Somehow that wasn't the way this evening was meant to go.

For the Patriarchs we'll be reading through the stories of Abraham
  1. His call
  2. God's covenant with Abraham
  3. Hagar and Ishmael
  4. Sodom and Gomorrah
  5. Birth and Sacrifice of Issac
We've covered this all before and so in part we're reviewing, discussing and time-lining. What has been interesting is adding in "Adam and His Kin". As she retells the story she opens up various possibilities. Some of which i have cringed to read but it does add in another aspect to our studies.

Our writing project for this session is either either
  • a retelling of one of these narratives based on an outline
  • or an essay or praise or blame centered on one of the patriarchs.
For our art studies I'm aiming for a scene from one of these narratives. I'm looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Shack

I think this is one of the most controversial books I have read in a while - most of my email groups have an opinion - usually on the lines of proceed with great caution and only if you have to read it. The introduction I have from a friend - it has a bit of an unusual take on the trinity but its really good for getting you to think. (This same friend passed me "So you don't want to Go to Church Anymore" a while back and I valued its timely reminder that Jesus is not the church, and its him not the church that we as Christians are here to serve.)

Halfway through and I'm enjoying it. It challenged my reality of unconditional love - I knew I didn't live in that reality, I just needed a challenge to show me how far from that reality I am. My head speaks of God's unconditional love, my reality is a life trying to keep everyone around me happy, to meet expectations and to try and make the grade. Hubby was already half way through the book before I picked it up had said it would do me good. On this one issue alone it was worth wading through the icky introduction to the story.

I've found it affirming, God all powerful all knowing all loving - yet honest and respectful in relationship with us. God - who is who he is, not needing or desiring the human hierarchies that in my experience often do more harm than good. (I have to go a long way back in my walk with God to find a church that trusted God, affirmed his word and lived what they read in his word.
Church politics definitely sets of warning bells around here.)

God who sits at that point, often just out of my comprehension where his sovereignty, and our free will can co-exist and yet not diminish the reality of either. Where sin is always wrong and evil, and yet can be redeemed and transformed beyond our understanding to bring out what is truly good. Redemption that occurs with relationship, understanding and God's forgiveness nad mercy. God who understand that our lives are messy, our images warped, and our relationship with him full of presuppositions that come from our families our world, our churches. Maybe I have yet to get to the controversial stuff, or maybe the writer assumes we have already grounded ourselves in the head knowledge of our faith and simply need a shake up to engage our hearts. After all relationship isn't a purely intellectual exercise.

I'm looking forward to wresting it off hubby and finishing my read ... in truth I'm playing of Blogger simply to avoid taking the book away from him.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Writing Project - Narnia

Its taken me a while to work out how to post from word, but here is my Artist's writing project from our Narnia studies. I think she did well for a twelve year old.

Comparing the Creation of Narnia to the Creation of Earth

C. S. Lewis was a Christian writer whose children’s books often make us think about events in the Bible. Was C.S. Lewis trying to rewrite the Bible? Was he trying to put wrong under right? Was he trying to create a book like the beginning of the Bible in a new world to reach those who will not read the Bible?

The creation of Narnia all started with a singer and his song. Two children: Digory and Polly, a witch named Jadis, Uncle Andrew, a cabby, and his horse got into Narnia while Aslan was creating it. It is all dark, and there is nothing when they get there. Then they heard a song. Stars suddenly appeared and the moon shone. Morning came, and Digory watched the young sun rise. They found themselves in a valley surrounded by mountains. Then they saw Aslan, the Lion who was singing. Plants were growing in seconds. The witch did not like the Lion, so she threw the lamp-post bar, which happened to be in her hand, at Aslan. She wanted to rule over this new world, so she ran because Aslan was still walking towards them. Aslan was not hurt and the bar grew into a lamp-post. Uncle Andrew thought he could make a fortune out of Narnia. He was scared of Aslan, so he tried to run, tripped on a tree root, and fell in a stream. He had hardened his heart to Aslan, so he could no longer hear what Aslan said. The ground bubbled up, and animals came out of those bubbles. Aslan called the River Gods and Dwarfs. He picked some of the animals and made it so that they could speak. To all the talking things he gave Narnia, warning them not to become like the other animals again. The cabby’s horse got picked, and became special like the other talking animals. Aslan was still the lord of Narnia and all of his creation was under him. Narnia was made in five hours.

The biblical account of creation starts with nothing but God. On the first day, God created the body of the world. He made light and dark, and made them day and night. On the second day, God created the sky, or dome, and created air. On the third day, God created dry land and plants of every seed grew on the dry land. On the forth day God created the Sun and the stars and he placed them in the sky. On the fifth day, God created the fish and placed them in the sea, and the birds in the air. On the sixth day, God created mammals or animals of every species. He made man and then woman out of man He said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) On the seventh day God rested and made it a Holy day of rest. But one of the angels, God had created turned against God. He rebelled and bought evil and with him. He took many other angels. He is now known as Satan.

Both worlds in their creation have the same point. That is Evolution sucks, and is a lie. They were both created out from nothing. Both were created by their own creator. And when their creator said it and it was done. The creators saw their work was good and were pleased. The creators gave their world to its inhabitants. In both cases evil appears independently from their creator. Both worlds were made with almost the same plan and order.

But they did have differences. Narnia had gods and dwarfs that were placed under it’s creator. There is nothing of the sort on earth. Narnia was made in 5 hours, earth was made in 6 days, and the 7th day was made Holy. In Narnia evil was already in the world before Narnia was created. But on Earth God made angels and then evil entered Earth. Earth is real but Narnia is a story.

The creation of Earth and the story of Narnia kick Evolution in the face. But the question is “Was C.S. Lewis trying to rewrite the Bible?” We can see he is not trying to rewrite the Bible because if he was he would firstly be more accurate with the differences, and secondly, he would have not stopped were he did, and thirdly C. S. Lewis is a Christian. “Was he trying to put wrong and evil under the right and what is good?” Yes, I think he was, cause when he calls the gods and dwarfs to rule, Aslan is still the creator, in control. He never stops Aslan from being the Lord of the land. “Or was he trying to create a book like the beginning of the Bible in a new world to reach those who will not read the Bible?” Yes and No. No he does not want to replace the Bible. So what is he doing? He is trying to make us think about what is good. Like when the horse, Fledge asks the children, “I think He likes to be asked?” Which means God likes to be asked. So he is trying to make you think about God. Yes he is trying to make those who don’t believe to think about God, and to get others to read the Bible.

7 May 2009

Art Assignment

So for our History of Science week..this week seems set up to work on our Nature Journals, to take some time and enjoy nature. It also gives the kids a tangible opportunity to work with color and texture.

So for this week their assignment is to observe nature, and using the skills we have been working on to prepare a page for their nature journals.

Writing & Art Assignments

For the last couple of weeks our Writing and Art projects have been a combination of the kids choice and a brainstorming session each Friday. I wanted them to have a choice and work on something that they wanted to write about.

Last week it became obvious that we aren't quite ready for the choice - we like having ideas for projects presented, and maybe we need some advance warning about what we might be writing about.

I'll add samples of their art projects as they complete them. I'd like to add in copies of thier writing but so far Word 2007 doesn't like talking to blogger and I don't quite know why.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Afternoon Topics - Science

We're working through the first chapters of Apologia as an introduction to real science, or at least the definitions. As a family we love science discussions - my engineer would glean from my science teacher husband all day if he could. We've been known to discuss atoms and the periodic table over lunch. OK mum's knowledge is very rusty! Apologia is proving hard going for all of us - I presumed that it would offer a solid Christian perspective, but the text really seems anti science. Maybe it will get better. The elementary science texts were so positive.

Apologia General Science works through a time-line of key scientists in the development of Science as a discipline. I've looked at a couple of ways of dealing with this material, being organized is always a blessing, but I can see that their is enough of a mixture of stuff we kinda know and new stuff to give us lots of sidelines to explore. My intention this week is to work through the book discussing the time-line as we go and building a time-line in our science books. It would be good to get through the rest of the chapter we still have 40 pages to go so I need to look at covering around 10 pages an afternoon. Its starting to feel like a marathon so I'm definitely playing this one by ear.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Change for the better

Its three weeks since we embarked on our block learning experiment. Its been an interesting three weeks, mainly because we realized in the process just how burned out we were with trying to keep all the plates spinning of our classical education. It simply wasn't working. The consensus is that combined history and toolbox studies is a keeper.

Certainly our language arts is a lot more fun that it was. If nothing else we are happy to play and learn rather than to stress and struggle with an overloaded curriculum. Its only as we've dumped the formal routine of classical writing that we have been able to enjoy the components. Interestingly in a discussion situation its much more fun, easier to understand and a lot less scary. Do you get the feeling I have a real love hate relationship with this curriculum.

For the last two weeks we've played with Theon's six. I think we have analyzed over 8 stories or passages, discussed the authors emphasis, and looked at whether we wanted to try a different emphasis to achieve the same point as the story or whether we need to keep the same emphasis. In the last week we imitated 4 Aesop fables, I've never seen the kids have so much fun writing. Lots of practice, some editing - but mainly as they read thier stories out loud lots of fun.

Our Art unit was much the same, fun energy and practice. this could be a solution for a travel worn classical home-school mum who isn't quite ready to give up the ideal, but knows that the treadmill of school at home really really isn't working.

I don't know if its the mists of grammar or homeschooling that makes me feel like this picture is appropriate here - or maybe I just like the mists.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

How do you do double sidebars?


This is a question not a post that I'm hoping someone can help me with. I would really like to have sidebars on each side of this blog - simply so that I can keep the things that I want to be reminded of in front of me when I am planning. Can anyone tell me how to do this or where to find the code that allows double sidebars?

Thanks Valda

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Floods and Towers

This week our notebook studies centered around the Flood and the Tower of Babel.

We had some fun reading through the relevant chapters of Adam and his Kin by Ruth Beechick alongside our bible readings. I think this was one of the units I would have dumped in the early stages it if very familiar ground for us and I really didn't want to find us bored this early in our new structure. But with the addition of Adam and His kin we ended up with good discussion times and a greater tie in to our history studies than we have seen before.

I still don't know how I feel about Adam and his Kin as a read aloud for this unit. On one hand it gives a very plausible connection between biblical studies and history. On the other hand the natue of this read-aloud leaves me feeling that we are setting in concrete musings around the biblical narratives that are inherently researched fiction.

Playing with texture and paint;
By the Artist

by the Engineer

by the Naturalist

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Autumn Topics

With that in sight I'm thinking through our themes for this year. Our trip to Wellington has shaped that.

My first attempt at brainstorming a list of topics gave us 12 subjects and 13 skills - which may of may not be possible in a ten week term. I would like to deal with one idea at a time, not lots but there is no reason why we have to do a topic a week.

In terms of skills,
  1. Art - Texture & Colour teaching around an autumn theme.
  2. Progym - Theon's 6 attributes and identifying the authors emphasis.
  3. Using Theon's 6 as an outline.
  4. Diagramming Skills 1
  5. Poetry
  6. Art - Form
  7. Swimming
  8. Diagramming Skills 2
  9. Logic - introduction.

In terms of Topics
  1. Narnia - The Magicians Nephew,
  2. The Flood, and Babel,
  3. People of the Eastern World - Egypt
  4. Historical overview of Science - timeline
  5. Abraham
  6. How Scientists think/Lab Skills
  7. Swimming
  8. Other Ancient peoples of the Fertile Crescent
  9. Issac, Jacob and Joseph
  10. Swimming Creatures