Monday, June 29, 2009

Back From Heart

Heart was good - very good.

To be surrounded by christian women.

To see the beauty of women that were happy to be themselves not conformed to the latest fashion magazine.

To enjoy company that can laugh at the chaos that homeschooling brings to our daily life and see the good that we are achieving in our hidden insignificant corners.

To realize that I am not alone, not one of a crazy few, but one of many, loving, beautiful women.

To rest in a consistent message "Trust God".

To realize the cost of trying to live up to others expectations, rather than to simply do what God has given to do. I cannot achieve what God has given, Jane and Jenny and Martha and... to do I can only do what he has given me to do. And I can rejoice in the things that we are doing well rather than take them for granted to push on and do even better.

To realize it is not too late to undo the damage of striving to be accepted, successful, good enough.

I've come home to the peace of being able to take time to clear my desk, relax in a unit study, a very off the cuff, meandering study that will give us focus not chaos, connection not argument, but give me time to catch my breath.

I'm looking forward to rebuilding our confidence, and I'm enjoying being alive, being mum, learning and living.

I'm looking forward to seeing God as in control, real, involved rather than something lost in a maze of good ideas, self help books and being sucessful.

I'm looking forward to a journey that probably won't end up where i intended but will end up somewhere good.

Lots to process lots to write about... sots of need to rest and think and sleep and love.


Tuesday, June 23, 2009


The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
by the Artist age 12
Hi! I am a country mouse called Matilda. You see I live in the country. I have always believed that the best saying or motto is, “It is better to be poor and eat Beans, Bacon, Cheese, and Bread, than live in luxury and eat cakes and ale in danger.” One night at dinner my cousin Georgina and I were chased by two massive mastiffs or watch-dogs. They were big and scary.
We had been enjoying the remains of a great feast with roast duck and pork, ale, and wines, cakes and all other things nice to mice, even rare fruits. It was such a nice feast I began to enjoy myself. The big rows of houses had scared me. I heard my warning bells ringing when the barks of the dogs filled my ears, but when I questioned Georgina, she was not worried. This was her house so she was not scared, she was hungry, and besides, this was her house.
You see Georgina had invited me to dinner after she had visited me in the country. She said to me in an angry tone, “Matilda! I can never understand you! You have only beans, bacon, cheese, and bread, to offer me! Nothing better! But if you came with me, I could show you what luxury is.” She pulled out a grape from her pack which she had brought for the journey. Then she continued comparing her grape with one of my beans. For it was true, all I had to offer was beans, bacon, cheese, and bread. “Matilda, please come with me. We will also see the rest of the family in Madrid, Spain. Our family in town could come with us, and we could have a great big family reunion.” She was still examining my bean in disgust. So with a sigh, I consented, for I was the only one out of the family who lived in the country.
I had tried welcome her very much when she had arrived, but it had been no use. I had offered my food freely, all I could find, but she only turned up her nose at the food, even my bacon. Now I will never leave the country. I don’t want to get hurt. Not even Georgina can take me to town.

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse
by the Naturalist age 8
Now there was once a country mouse that had his cousin, a town mouse, over for lunch. The town mouse did not like the country. As to the bread, corn and bacon the country mouse served him, he only ate bacon.
He said “You live a very poor life. Come to town, and live with me and the family.”
The country mouse conceded.
So said! So done! They headed off for the city.
They got to the grand house, where the town mouse lived that evening. They went to the dinning room and were enjoying a hearty meal with all the big family. Then they heard barking. The country mouse said “What is that?” The town mice said “It is only the dogs of the house.” “Only!” said the scared country mouse. Then in walked two big Mastiffs.
The mice ran away and the country mouse said “Good-bye I am going back to the country.”
“What the!” said the town mice.
Then the country mouse said, “Better poor with peace the luxury in great fear.”

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Notebook Studies: People of the Fertile Crescent.

The individual chapters for this unit are fairly small, with little to add in in terms of additional reading or new projects. I'll add in readings from Science in Ancient Mesopotamia and the Veritas press map project in order to fill out the week.

  • Day 1 Chapter 5 The First Sumerian Dictator Sargon, Reading through both stories in Story of the world. Narrate. Include map work in summary. Allow discussion based on what we have been considering.

  • Day 2 Chapter 6 The Jewish People Read through stories, provide a summary of the lives of the patriarchs in one to two paragraphs. How do they compare to the other nations of that time? Catch up on time line for these bible characters and the rest of the patriarchs.

  • Day 3 Chapter 7 Hammurabi and the Babylonians. Read and discuss. Read through excerpts from the Code of Hammurabi as included in the Veritas Press cards. Compare some of these to the Laws of Moses. Narration from the reading and the discussion of the Code.
  • Day 4 Chapter 8 The Assyrians Shamshi-Adad, King of the Whole World - The Story of Gilgamesh. (From Story of the World.) Read through the picture book version of Ishtar. Narration.

Writing and Art Projects.
  • Retell portions of the story of Gilgamesh (either in prose or poetry.)
  • Creative Writing: Describe what it would be like to live in one of these cultures.
  • Select one of the rulers from this period (Excluding the Jewish Patriarchs) and write an Encomium as we did last week. This can also be done in the negative.
  • Using Clay recreate one of the panels from the palaces of the fertile crescent.
  • Draw a depiction of Gilgamesh and Ekindu.
  • Draw one of the palaces or temples from this area - Consider Jansons History of Art for inspiration.

Toolbox: Logic Introduction.

This selection is a trial. I have been delaying starting logic, simply because of the age ranges of my trio. However since the older two loved the fallacy discussions we started last year I'm tempted to begin anyway. I have no idea of what level of pacing we should be using, one lesson a week and a fallacy. If it works we will continue at this pace, if not we will spend the rest of the year working through the fallacies.

  • Day 1 Introduction, read through the whole chapter as an introduction. Then re-read through the first two sections. Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the introduction of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 2 Introduction, day 2 Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the first chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 3 Introduction, day 3 Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the first chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

  • Day 4 Introduction, day 4c Answer the Questions provided in a group session. Include definitions in "Tricks or the Trade" notebook. Finish with the first chapter of the Fallacy Detective book.

Small Successes

This has been a good week. My successes are both in the small things of each day, but also unexpected journeys that homeschooling has given me.

  1. We managed to settle back into studies after swimming with a reasonable atmosphere in the house. We are happy, hopefully an improved level of learning has occurred, even if measurable output isn't quite where I would like it.

  2. We survived a week at the pools, with lunches and dry togs each day. It was fun and exhausting! but along the way I've gotten much better at preparing picnic lunches.

  3. I managed to swim 23 meters - almost the length of the 2 meter pool. For someone that has never been able to swim freestyle with breathing, and who took on teaching a small homeschool class a couple of years ago, terrified of deep water this has been a neat surprise in the journey.
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.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mummibear at home

When we first joined the internet communities and homeschooling my children were young, and from a family tradition about Gummibears, I became the Mummibear of the family. For many years this was my internet name - Mummibear. My daughter recently reminded me that it made her feel safe and protected. A good name.

Over the years depression and burnout took their toll. Trying to be good enough for family and in-laws to accept our homeschooling, rebuilding everything after relocating back to my husband's family town, picking up the pieces after a series of incidents that firmly closed the door on dreams of moving into pastoral ministry. and then moving elsewhere to begin a life of our own where we could hopefully start fresh.

As burnout hit the Mummibear seemed more of a grumpy, rough bear than a loving protective mum, and with all the good intentions or trying to fix it all I changed my online name... Recently I've come slowly to understand a little more about what has caused, feed and trapped me in this state. Some days the sun rises in a clear blue sky with joy and happiness, sometimes it doesn't. God has been good. Not everything has been fixed, but at least now the feelings have a name and each reaction is not so much a situation that is new and needs to be fixed, but a symptom of long standing disillusionment.

I've also come to realize that for us as a family medication isn't necessarily the answer, partly because my husband dislikes the idea and partly because its side effects on me almost out weigh the healing opportunities it provides. Counseling is another side that has been tried and well counseling was what started the journey back to my husband's hometown. (We're now a little nervous of heading down this path. Mainly because I believe that the quality of counseling depends very much on the experience and character of the counselor, and I have yet to be inspired enough to pay the funds we don't have in order to risk what progress we have gained. )

This is a journey of understanding and discovery that God has the keys to, even if I don't at this stage understand it. It is a journey that has effected every member of my immediate family. I wish it was otherwise. In many cases has been exasperated by others. Yet is something that we alone can find the keys too and healing from, with the help of those who have also gone ahead of us on the journey.

Yes I am still grasping at good days and good things trying to build them into my life. Yes there is fallout as I recognize the bad, and don't yet have the skills to set comfortable boundaries. Life goes on and what seems good as an idea becomes full of difficulties. Yes we have around us a number of people that mimic those who initially caused the depression in the first place. Some weeks are hard full of discovery, some days are beautiful and full of hope. This week has had all of the above.

In this journey though is a wonderful understanding of the joy of family, love, good friends, the beauty that is available to all of us in nature and relationships and the discovery of the love that God has for each of his children despite their mistakes and faults.

It is good to type and think out loud - even if I don't always have a good understanding of public and private. Then again - with only one or two close friends and family a long way off sometimes the gaps between what seems perfect on the outside and the reality of true normal living leave us constantly feeling like we fall far shorter than the mark than the reality is.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Toolbox - Diagraming 2 & Adverbs

Were continuing to work through Mary Daly's Elementary Diagramming Text, as an overview to diagramming and parts of speech before we move forward in Grammar. Its a chance to get all three kids close to the same standard before we move on. For detailed Grammar work I haven't decided whether I like Mother Tongue or Harvey's better. Mother Tongue is easier to use,
Harvey's is the one used for classical writing and apparently better for its treatment of logic. We will see. As a PDF Mother tongue is easy to convert to worksheets as I need them and conveniance is a good thing.
  • Day 1 Review linking Verbs and Verbs of Sensing. None of us have necessarily got our heads around when linking verbs are something other than is, was and their related ideas so it will be good to play around with these for a while working through the book. There are two short stories to diagram in the book, one is about a vole and the other about lilies in a church at Easter.

  • Day 2 Adverbs: Introduction to Adverbs using Mother tongue 1 part 2.
    Find adverbs in sentences,
    modify sentences by adding in adverbs.

  • Day 3 Modifiying Sentences with Adverbs answering the question how
    Adverbs diagramming of the Carpenter.

  • Day 4 Modifying sentences with Adverbs that modify adverbs, practice modifying sentences with Adverbs and adjectives.

  • Extension if we get extra time look at doing the six sentence shuffle (from Classical Writing Homer, using one of these sentences.

    I dimly discerned a wall before me.
    The guardsmen defended himself bravely.
    Our ship was greatly damaged by this storm.

Character study - praising or blaming

In progym terms this is taken from the Encomium and is a praise of a person, the same format looking at the negative or a person is known as an Invective, or the blame of a person.

In putting all of my kids together we have chosen to work through a free form progym rather than spending a year on each form. My goal is to integrate writing and humanities so that using the right form for an essay becomes second nature. I'm also hoping that a more free form approach will remove the focus from just getting through the book to enjoying our writing and being able to have fun while we do so. classical writing seems to leave all of us scrambling to get it done rather than learning better ways of writing. As you will have noticed I need to learn better ways of writing.

By looking at a person both through Encomium and Invective we have the ability to see both sides of a person, the fallen side and the side that reflects the image of God. We haven't yet reached the point where we will run these exercised together - but I can see the point in doing so and will probably introduce this when we study Plutarch.


Discovery / Research
  • The persons background, what nation, city, ancestry, and parents.

  • The person's education, both formal and informal, their life experiences and natural abilities. What moral training did they have, what was their inclination to study.

  • The persons virtues. Qualities of mind body and spirit.

  • Their achievements - holding public office, helping others, serving in the military, making a living, making a home, raising children etc.

The Pattern of Arrangement.
  • Introduction to the person, a quick overview of who they are. You can include anything that you want although the aim should be to support the rest of your essay.

  • Narrative a description of their background leading to their virtues and or deeds. This section of the essay would include most of the findings of the essay relevant to your conclusions. In some cases the detail from this section is spread throughout the essay in support of various achievements of the person.

  • An amplification or added detail about their virtues and deeds. this is the main portion of praise of the achievements of the person under consideration.

  • A comparison to other people who have been recognized for these deeds / virtues or who form a contrast with the person being praised.

  • A conclusion or their contribution to our society and usually an appeal for other to incorporate these virtues in their own lives.

Monday, June 8, 2009


This week is a little different.

The School my husband works at are doing a week of swimming classes across all their ages, so my three get to join in the fun. I think I'm looking forward to it - after all our afternoons at the pool are nearly always relaxing and stress free. I've been putting off swimming because it seems to cut to deeply into a normal week. Funny how one afternoon out of the normal school routine can do that, but it does. So we hopefully shall enjoy... hopefully well the weather forecast is for rain, and though the pools are wonderfully heated ...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

A Perfect Sunday

After Church today we wandered through my favorite local piece of bush - we saw Silvereyes. white heads, a falcon? and a New Zealand Robin having a bath in a small spring. Two of these are rare which is why this is my favorite place.

A perfect view of snow covered mountains on the way home.

After our walk - did I mention that the ground was frozen under sunny blue skies, we headed home via the local hot pools. A 41 oC pool was welcoming and warming. There have to be some benefits of living in a thermal area. Home to a lazy afternoon, hubby cooking a light meal and rest.

All in all a fairly perfect day.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Spring Topics

Toolbox Studies
  1. Art - Local Value, The Elements
  2. Progym
  3. Diagramming Skills 3 Prepositions
  4. Logic: Lesson 4
  5. Poetry Classical Writing poetry week 7 & 8
  6. Art: Balance
  7. Progym
  8. Diagramming Skills 4 going Further
  9. Logic Lesson 5
  10. Poetry: Classical Writing Poetry Week 9& 10
Notebook Studies
  1. Crete, Mycenaean and Greeks
  2. Balaam & His Donkey, Moses Dies; Joshua Takes Command, Spies To Canaan Battle Of Jericho , Israel Given Promised Land, Joshua’s Last Words
  3. Human Body 1 The Human Body, Energy and Life
  4. A Horse and His Boy
  5. A Horse and His Boy
  6. Greeks part 2
  7. Human Body 3 Human Lymphatic, Endocrine and urinary Systems, Human Nervous system
  8. Judges Of Israel Othniel & Ehud Deborah The Prophetess Gideon Delivers Israel Jephthah’s Foolish Vow
  9. Greeks part 3
  10. Human Body 2 The human digestive system week, The Human Respiratory and Circulatory Systems
  11. Naomi & Ruth Samson & Delilah

Winter topics

Toolbox Studies
  1. Poetry Classical Writing poetry week 2
  2. Art - Value
  3. Progym
  4. Diagramming Skills 3 Prepositions
  5. Logic: Lesson 1 & 2
  6. Poetry Classical Writing poetry week 3 & 4
  7. Art:Form, Shading and Shadow.
  8. Progym
  9. Diagramming Skills 4 going Further, conjunctions and Interjections
  10. Logic Lesson 3
  11. Poetry: Classical Writing Poetry Week 5 & 6

Notebook Studies
  1. Ancient India, Africa and China
  2. Narnia The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
  3. Narnia The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe
  4. Applied Science and technology
  5. Egypt, Middle Kingdom and New Kingdom to Moses
  6. Exodus 1
  7. Exodus 2
  8. Geology 1 History of life, Foundations of Geology
  9. Geology 2 The Fossil Record Uniformitarianism and Catastrophism
  10. Israel, Phoenicia, Assyria and Babylonian.
  11. Bio intro What is life? Classifying Life
Option for sick weeks or gap weeks - Swimming Creatures

Love is Patient ...

I've had a couple of situations where this verse has been to the front this week.

Its had a major effect on how I discipline my middle child, to often we go head to head, mum gets upset and well he gets off, with a sorry thrown in for good measure. While no one liked the situations we were getting ourselves in, he couldn't connect his behavior and my reaction. For me it was complicated by an underlying feeling that good mum's don't get angry.

For the last couple of weeks their has been progress and boundaries. Failure to be part of the family activities has left him in an extended room-time, meals are served, visitors are allowed, hugs are given, doors are open. But in his room he has been requested to remain. He will stay there, with appropriate time off for good behavior until he complies with the request that he does his chores, tidies up and gives his school work an honest effort. I have no idea why he complies with this request and not the actual please do maths. Slowly we are making progress - not just in the urgent issues but in consequences for actions. He values his time with the family, he's sorry for what he's been doing, he sees change as possible and good and he knows he's loved. No one is getting angry - no one is getting hurt, change is happening. Good change.

The other situation is harder. Although maybe the solution is the same. It's an ongoing discussion on relationship and respect. The person concerned is sure they have done nothing wrong, and that tolerance is the way to go. I'm not sure what tolerance means - I suspect that it is somewhat short of love and respect, missing on understanding and relationship. It isn't agreeing that we are in relationship and accepting we see the world differently. I suspect it is more you are stuck with being nice to us and we will do what we want and you will smile sweetly while we push you around. Umm... Love has been patient for a long time. In truth love has also given way to that which is unlovely but I'm working on that. Relationship has made it painful. Maybe the time has come for boundaries here also so that we can respectfully require tolerance to be limited by respect. Love hopes for relationship, understanding, and an acceptance that realizes give and take is necessary, disagreements are possible but that rudeness is not. Love realizes that those who God gave us to love are not always those we would choose.

Across the board love is what encourages us to grow, to learn, to get back up and keep trying. Love is what reminds us that we are made in God's image, in his likeness. It is the measure of our surrender to him and his ways. As this year unfolds I am glad that God's love keeps trying, forgiving and calling me to do the same. I'm grateful that rather than leaving us locked in the patterns of the past - God turns the key and lets us discover the freedom of being able to do things differently next time.

Art: Space and Line

In many ways this is a catch up unit Josh. So far his art has missed the instruction that the older two have had. For a long time I hoped that he would naturally start to see shape in his drawings, but he hasn't.
  • Day 1 Space - horizontal and vertical space.

    How can you tell which way you want the paper to go. How do you choose the shape of your picture.

    Warm up: Because I want to work on shape and line as well I'm going to use some of the warm ups from Donna Young's website.

    We'll look at the two examples given in Artistic pursuits gr 4-6 lesson 1 as a start and discuss. Select two objects to draw and using a pencil quickly sketch them so that they make the best use of your two pieces of paper.
  • Day 2 Line & Shape

    Warm up: As per yesterday.

    Look at how all objects are made up from connecting lines and shapes. When the lines join up we have a shape. In teaching I'll jump of the Artistic Pursuits book unit 2. Then I'll get them to look for lines and shapes in an outside scene - probably the Cherry tree outside the living room windows and draw it.
  • Day 3 Line and Shape Continued.

    Warm up as per yesterday.

    Review what we did the previous day. Look at thier drawings and discuss as a group where they made good use of shape and line. Then still looking at line and shape in Artistic Pursuits talk about how the direction of the lines give a sense of form as well as shape. Talk also about times where we can see through what we are drawing to more lines, or shapes beyond it. I.e. the trees beyond our Cherry tree, or wheels on a cannon.
    We have a small grey pumpkin sitting on the bench that I'm going to use for drawing practice. It gives a good sense of where an object has lines that we have to draw as curves to give it its true shape. For the older kids I'll add in a couple of other items for a small still life.

  • No Day 4 - We've had Queens birthday weekend so Monday was a holiday.

Planning Blog

I realize that as nice as it is for me to have a clean slate to work though our weeks plans that might now work for anyone else reading it. So I've re-instated a second planning blog for this purpose. That way I can enjoy having space to write and space to plan. So if you are interested the planning blog is Swatches and Threads. My weekly toolbox and afternoon studies plans will end up there instead of here from now on.