Thursday, December 25, 2008
Christ is Born! Glorify Him!
I behold a new and wondrous mystery! My ears resound to the Shepherd's song, piping no soft melody, but chanting full forth a heavenly hymn.
The Angels sing!
The Archangels blend their voices in harmony!
The Cherubim hymn their joyful praise!
The Seraphim exalt His glory!
All join to praise this holy feast, beholding the Godhead here on earth, and man in heaven. He who is above, now for our redemption dwells here below; and he that was lowly is by divine mercy raised.
Bethlehem this day resembles heaven; hearing from the stars the singing of angelic voices; and in place of the sun, enfolds within itself on every side the Sun of Justice.
And ask not how: for where God wills, the order of nature yields. For He willed, he had the power, He descended, He redeemed; all things move in obedience to God.
This day He Who Is, is Born; and He Who Is becomes what He was not. For when He was God, He became man; yet not departing from the Godhead that is His. Nor yet by any loss of divinity became He man, nor through increase became he God from man; but being the Word He became flesh, His nature, because of impassibility, remaining unchanged.
And so the kings have come, and they have seen the heavenly King that has come upon the earth, not bringing with Him Angels, nor Archangels, nor Thrones, nor Dominations, nor Powers, nor Principalities, but, treading a new and solitary path, He has come forth from a spotless womb.
Yet He has not forsaken His angels, nor left them deprived of His care, nor because of His Incarnation has he departed from the Godhead.
And behold, Kings have come, that they might adore the heavenly King of glory;
Soldiers, that they might serve the Leader of the Hosts of Heaven;
Women, that they might adore Him Who was born of a woman so that He might change the pains of child-birth into joy;
Virgins, to the Son of the Virgin, beholding with joy, that He Who is the Giver of milk, Who has decreed that the fountains of the breast pour forth in ready streams, receives from a Virgin Mother the food of infancy;
Infants, that they may adore Him Who became a little child, so that out of the mouth of infants and sucklings, He might perfect praise;
Children, to the Child Who raised up martyrs through the rage of Herod;
Men, to Him Who became man, that He might heal the miseries of His servants;
Shepherds, to the Good Shepherd Who has laid down His life for His sheep;
Priests, to Him Who has become a High Priest according to the order of Melchisedech;
Servants, to Him Who took upon Himself the form of a servant that He might bless our servitude with the reward of freedom;Fishermen, to Him Who from amongst fishermen chose catchers of men;
Publicans, to Him Who from amongst them named a chosen Evangelist;
Sinful women, to Him Who exposed His feet to the tears of the repentant;
And that I may embrace them all together, all sinners have come, that they may look upon the Lamb of God Who taketh away the sins of the world.
Since therefore all rejoice, I too desire to rejoice. I too wish to share the choral dance, to celebrate the festival. But I take my part, not plucking the harp, not shaking the Thyrsian staff, not with the music of pipes, nor holding a torch, but holding in my arms the cradle of Christ. For this is all my hope, this my life, this my salvation, this my pipe, my harp. And bearing it I come, and having from its power received the gift of speech, I too, with the angels, sing: Glory to God in the Highest;and with the shepherds: and on earth peace to men of good will.
Friday, December 19, 2008
Review: Living Memory by Andrew Campbell
The biggest advantage to owning this book is that it is all there. It is a one stop book for referencing memory work throughout homeschooling. Anything that reduces the time I spend online looking for a poem or speech is a positive for me. Another great benefit is the broad range of selections. I particularly appreciate Dr. Campbell's inclusion of prayers from the Orthodox Church alongside prayers of the Catholic and Protestant faiths. The grammar section is nicely done, with an original catechism which when memorized takes the student through a very thorough understanding of grammar. Finally, as evidenced by the generous selection of well chosen poems, the quality of the selections is very high. There is no fluff or twaddle in this volume, only the best of the best.
Drawbacks: Those who are looking for a book divided into grade levels telling you exactly when to assign these pieces will be disappointed. However, if you are following Latin Centered Curriculum, he offers many suggestions in there for when to memorize certain pieces. If you are not planning to study any Greek or Latin, a large portion of this book will be useless. Also, the Religion section makes up a generous portion of the book. This is under the assumption that anyone following the classical model will be studying the Christian religion as a part of that, whether they are Christian or not. For those who do not wish to expose their children to christian hymns, prayers and scripture, there will be a good portion of this book that will be unusable.
It is designed to be a "workbook", or practical guide, not a theory book. If you are looking to really understand the how and why - you will want to do further reading and research. If you are looking to this book to convince you of the value of learning these things, you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a pick up and go anthology of high quality memory work, then this book is perfect.If you are interested in looking deeper into the theory and philosophy behind this book the following reading is suggested:
article on memorization
Memorize the Faith
Thursday, December 18, 2008
Friday, December 12, 2008
I promised pictures from the big November event, so here they are! This November my parents celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary. For the past year my sister and I have been planning a grand surprise party to honor them. My parents were not married in the Orthodox Church, and many converts choose to have their marriage blessed by the church. My parents had mentioned doing this, but my mom said it was too much to try to plan. We talked with my dad, and decided to surprise mom with not just a party, but a marriage blessing.
Dad went all out, renting a tux, and one of my closest childhood friends loaned his Ferrari for the ride to the church.
Here are my two girls, along with their little niece, my sister's little girl. I made the girl's dresses from silk dupioni, and they all thought they were princesses! They got to go down the aisle and throw rose petals (though my niece preferred the "dump the basket upside down method" of distributing petals :)
A marriage blessing in the church is not very different from the wedding service, so my mom walked down the aisle just like a new bride.
The highlight of the Orthodox marriage - the crowning - the "newlyweds" are given crowns to symbolize their victory in marriage, and their martyrdom to each other. The crowns are joined by a ribbon and are kept as a special reminder of the commitment of marriage. When one of the couple dies, the ribbon is cut and the person is buried with his crown.
Here is one of the tables - we printed up menus, sewed table overlays, used 120 votive candles, and a 50 cup bag of freeze dried rose petals, not to mention 200 fresh roses, 30 white dendrobium orchids and a dozen white hydrangea. Everything was done in black, red (my mom's favorite color) and white - even the guests all came dressed in coordinating colors.
Here is one of the taller table arrangements (they were set on 3 foot high candle stands on the tables). Thank you to Lisa and Brian - I could have never done all the arrangements by myself!
I created a replica of my parents wedding cake - and we displayed my mom's bridal portrait.
My Dad's longest friend (see, I almost typed oldest, but I figured he might not appreciate how that sounded :) Mike and Dianne both were in my parent's wedding - my dad and Mike have been friends (and neighbors) since they were 5!
A peek at the kitchen - I had so many wonderful people helping put the food together. My sister and I cooked for 3 days straight, then had a crew help us pull it all together that afternoon. Here are the lobster tacos in progress.
We decorated the central buffet table with magnolia leaves, roses and rose petals - and framed photos from their wedding.
The photos were done by Dn. Michael Hyatt, who did a spectacular job. It was such a beautiful evening, and it was so wonderful to be able to do something so very special for my parents. May God grant them Many Years!!
Composed spontaneously by the crocodile hunter as he stumbled in the door with tears running down his face and blood dripping from the gash in his forehead. We are still evaluating the stitches part of it - hopefully that is just drama on his part. See, homeschoolers are always learning - even an injury is inspiration for poetry (though we may need to work on his rhyme a bit!)
UPDATE: four stitches - and a great battle scar for the Christmas card pictures!
Thursday, December 11, 2008
A Family Tradition
"..she noticed that there was something crunching under her feet. 'I wonder is that more moth-balls?' she thought, stooping down to feel it with her hands. But instead of feeling the hard, smooth wood of the floor of the wardrobe, she felt something soft and powdery and extremely cold. 'This is very queer,' she said, and went on a step or two further....Something cold and soft was falling on her. A moment later she found that she was standing in the middle of a wood at night-time with snow under her feet and snowflakes falling through the air."
So much for global warming, all I can say is this southern gal can't remember the last time we had a good snow before Christmas ! It inspired me to do something I have been planning to do for weeks, and just have not gotten around to. Growing up, one of the sweetest memories I have is of my father reading to us. And of all the books he read, there is no doubt, the Chronicles of Narnia were my favorite. Whether it is just my mind playing tricks or not, it always seems that we started reading them in the winter. My father read the whole series at least four times to us as we grew up, starting when I was about 3 or 4, then re-reading them as each of us reached that age. I started that tradition when my first child turned 3, and we spent the year reading the whole series through. My third child is 4 now, and I have been promising to start reading them once again. Well, the snow started falling hard and fast this afternoon, and after a treacherous drive home in the dark with huge snowflakes swirling at my windshield (and a constant stream of Lord Have Mercies under my breath) we snuggled up next to the wood burning stove in the kitchen, and I once again was blessed with the joy of introducing another child to the wonderous land of Narnia. There is something truly magical about the first real snow of the year (around here just having a first snow of the year is magical!), but having a first snow before Christmas, and marking it by stepping through the wardrobe with Lucy, well, there is not much that can top that! Other than perhaps playing in the snow at 9:00 pm when good little children should be tucked into bed, which is what my kids are getting ready to do as I type. Now, the only thing that could make this night more perfect is if there is enough fresh top snow to make snow cream!
Sunday, December 7, 2008
St. Barbara's Day Bonfire
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Lost and Found
Friday, November 28, 2008
what is wrong with our country ...
Thursday, November 27, 2008
I am thankful
Saturday, November 22, 2008
The Nativity Fast
Sunday: lentil burgers/lentils and rice
Monday: taco soup/hay stacks
Tuesday: fish or shrimp with rice and veggies/ stir fried shrimp or tofu & vegetables
Wednesday: spaghetti and salad
Thursday: burritos/ Lenten cabbage rolls
Friday - vegetable soup/tomato soup/bean soup
Saturday: spring rolls/pancakes
Tuesday is the night I have the most time to cook, and it is also the night my husband is most likely to be home for dinner, so that night has my most "elaborate" dishes. The other "fancy" dish I traditionally have done is spring rolls on Saturday nights. This year after looking over a friend's fasting meal plan I decided we would also try doing fasting pancakes as a treat on Saturdays. And of course, I stock up on the all important back up meal when things go crazy, which also serves as "the babysitter meal", the one I make for the kids when we go out - frozen breaded popcorn shrimp.
Breakfast tends to be oatmeal or cereal for the kids and eggs for the baby, and oatmeal or toast for me. Lunches usually consist of peanut butter and jelly (or banana :) sandwiches, hummus, fruit, raw vegetables, leftovers and soups.
For great recipes and ideas on fasting, be sure to check out Erin's blog dedicated to fasting.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
St. Nicholas Day
Resources for St. Nicholas Day Ideas
The St. Nicholas Center - a site with stories, crafts and ideas for creating your own traditions
Paidea Classics - a made in USA source for chocolate coins - they even say St. Nicholas on them!
The Real St. Nicholas - a collection of stories about St. Nicholas
St. Nicholas Life - an Orthodox source for the life of St. Nicholas
Wednesday, November 19, 2008
1. Make the 15th an event. (I realize this one is a bit late, but perhaps something to think about for next year - you know the rule, "live first, blog later!") Unlike the beginning of Great Lent, which is marked by several weeks of preparation and a week full of services, the beginning of Advent has no special service, and can get lost in the chaos of school and Thanksgiving Day preparations. So take this day to establish a family routine for the rest of the season. If you do not have a family altar already, set one up - an area where your family can come together for prayers, lighting candles and Advent readings. If you have a piece of furniture, shelf or table, drape it with a special cloth. I have purchased table runners which we change out according to the liturgical seasons, so the colors match the altar cloth and priests vestments of the Church. Wal M*rt is a great source for cheap table runners in lots of colors, especially this time of year. Place your Advent wreath here, prayer book, Bible and list of readings for the season.
2. The 15th is also the day in our house when I pull out the Christmas tree (well trees really, we have 3!) and set up the lights, and the kids all help decorate the tree. Then it is ready for all of our Advent books to be tucked underneath (due to allergies we use artifical trees, which makes it possible to decorate this early - and for me, to enjoy the beauty of Christmas for 2 months is something I look forward to every year - our tree does not come down until Theophany). Another idea for the tree if you don't care to deal with it before Thanksgiving, is to follow Erin's lead and set it up on December 13th in honor of St. Herman. This would be perfect timing for those who use a real tree.
3. Keep certain things special just for Advent. Many years ago the crocodile hunter's godmother sent him one of the Playm*bil Nativity sets. That has been such a treasure to my kids, and last year I got a second one for the little princess. The set is boxed up, and does not come down until November 15th. The kids get so excited about playing with it, as I begin taking decorations out they all start asking, can you get the Nativity set out for us? They often spend most of the next few days with just that toy. Again, it goes back in the box on January 6th in spite of protests to leave it out just a little longer, so they can look forward to it again next Advent. As I already posted, we do the same with Nativity books, and I follow this rule with Christmas music and a few classic Christmas movies on DVD I allow them to watch. The air of anticipation this creates is amazing, and it makes these things all the more special for those two months. It also means that they tend to spend much of their free time reading those stories, or playing with the Nativity set, a wonderful way to help the kids remain focused on the Church and Christ's birth in a world where most kids can think of nothing but what "Santa" will bring them.
Well, there are a few ideas to get you started. Hopefully they will inspire you to create things in your home that are not only "hidden art", but will become treasured memories for your children and help them to walk daily in the life of the Church. I will follow with more on the Jesse tree and Advent calendar ideas, and our special St. Nicholas traditions.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Here is a list of some of our favorites. Most of them are Nativity stories or about St. Nicholas, but I do include a few traditional favorites I loved as a child.
Who is Coming to Our House - Joseph Slate - this is a great repetitive rhyme book, excellent for younger ones (though my 9 year old still loves to hear it too!). It tells the story of the animals in the stable preparing for Mary and Joseph to arrive. It is also available as a board book.
Long Was the Winter Road They Traveled - J. Patrick Lewis - this book is beautifully illustrated, and is also told in rhyme
The Very First Christmas - Paul L Maier - this is a great detailed explanation of the Nativity story, told by a mom answering questions from her 8yo son. It was a gift from my son's godmother, and is one of our favorites. It is very accurate and in line with the teachings of the Orthodox Church.
The Little Boy's Christmas Gift - John Spiers - illustrations inspired by the art of the Brueghels, the story of a poor boys offering to the Christ child (thanks to Erin for suggesting this one!)
What Can I Give Him? - Debi Gliori - sweet and simple, based on a poem by Rosseti, this is a great one to read to little ones (a gift from the little princess' godfather - Erin's hubby :)
Silent Night - Margaret Hodges - moving story of how this hymn came to be
The Miraculous Child - Alvin Alexsi Currier - Orthodox tale of a Russian Christmas miracle
The Saint Who Became Santa Claus - Evelyn Bence - great explanation of how Santa Claus came to be
The Legend of St. Nicholas - Demi - love this artist, beautiful illuminated illustrations and lots of stories of the life of St. Nicholas
The Miracle of St. Nicholas - Gloria Whelan - very moving tale of a Russian village that has not celebrated liturgy in 60 years, and how a little boy's questions lead to a miracle celebration
The Baker's Dozen - Aaron Shepard - a legend of a St. Nicholas miracle, the story of how 13 came to mean a baker's dozen
Saint Nicholas - Julie Stiegmeyer - again, great stories of the real St. Nicholas
The Nutcracker Ballet - any well illustrated version
The Night Before Christmas - Clement Clarke Moore
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
Saturday, October 25, 2008
Friday, October 24, 2008
The Queen's Birthday Party
Here is the table set up - I went a little crazy with the rabbit food theme - we had salad, berries and cream (just like Flopsy, Mopsy and Cottontail!), blanched asparagus, tea sandwiches, scones and devonshire cream, and those cute little champagne grapes. We served lemonade in pretty tea cups. For flowers I used some potted plants and herbs I already had, a few bunches of inexpensive glads, and best of all, several bunches of Swiss Chard in vases.
And here is the cake - complete with sugar pansies and garden fence, sugar vegetables and butterflies, and a sugar Peter peeking out of the watering can. I don't have a good picture of the girls in their dresses, but I made them all three little dresses out of the Beatrix Potter fabric. The queen loved it, and thought it was the best birthday EVER! (of course, she only has last year to compare to, since I am pretty sure she doesn't remember the first two!)
Sunday, October 19, 2008
A peek at what I have been up to!
The past few weeks I have been busy preparing for the marriage of my brother-in-law to my god-daughter. It was a small wedding with only family in attendance. It was a lovely wedding, and I was honored to spend many hours in the past few weeks helping with the plans. Standing up beside them, looking over at my husband through the service, it brought tears to my eyes as I remembered the day nearly 15 years ago that he and I were married.
Here is the wedding cake I made for them. In my previous life (ie "BC"-before children) I was a cake decorator :)
And here is "the queen" who served as a flower girl. She is modeling the bride's veil! Now that the wedding is past, I should be posting more - I have had a bit of a computer vacation over the past few weeks. But school is back in full swing Monday and I look forward to sharing our latest plans!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Booklist - How many have YOU read?
The Big Read reckons that the average adult has only read 6 of the top 100 books they’ve printed.
1) Look at the list and put one * by those you have read.
2) Put a % by those you intend to read.
3) Put two ** by the books you LOVE.
4) Put # by the books you HATE.
**1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
**2 The Lord of the Rings - J.R.R. Tolkien
**3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
*4 Harry Potter series - J.K. Rowling (read the first 3 - decided that was enough)
*5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
**6 The Bible
#7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
**8 1984 - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
*10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
*11 Little Women - Louisa May Alcott
*12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
#13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
*14 Complete Works of Shakespeare (most, not all)
*15 Rebecca - Daphne du Maurier
**16 The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulks
#18 Catcher in the Rye - J.D. Salinger
19 The Time Traveller’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
**21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell (one of my favorites)
*22 The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald
23 Bleak House - Charles Dickens
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
**25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams -
26 Brideshead Revisited - Evelyn Waugh -
**27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
*28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
*29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
**30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
%31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
#32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
**33 Chronicles of Narnia- C.S. Lewis
**34 Emma - Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
**36 The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe - C.S. Lewis (read this at least 6 times :)
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis de Bernières -
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
**40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
**41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins -
*46 Anne of Green Gables - L.M. Montgomery
*47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
**49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding (this one always fascinated me!)
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
**54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
**57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
**58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
**61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
**65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
###67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy (this was torture in college lit class)
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
*71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
**73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Bell Jar - Sylvia Plath (parts)
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78Germinal - Émile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - A.S. Byatt
*81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
**87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
**89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
*91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
#92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
**97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
**98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
**99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
**100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo
I was surprised by how many I had not heard of on this list. I can say I definitely beat the average of 6 though!
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Saturday, September 20, 2008
A Peek at our Day
8:00 chores, breakfast
9:30 prayers, recitation, calendar
the Queen's "lessons" (see my preschool post)
history read aloud
10:30 naptime for baby
Main Lessons: math, Latin, language arts
12:30 lunch - composer study
2:00 the Queen's story time (Peter Rabbit is a must for a smooth transition to naptime :)
2:30 the Queen's nap -
projects (mine and the kids!)
poetry teatime or picture study
6:00 chores, supper preparations
7:00 daddy home & dinner (my ideal :)
Monday afternoons we have piano lessons (instructor comes to our home) and my sister in law will be bringing her kids over for Atelier art lessons starting next week.
Wednesday afternoons include a trip to the farm to pick up our CSA box, and Vespers.
Thursday afternoons we have gymnastics - this is the day I usually run all my errands.
Tuesdays and Fridays are left VERY flexible, because those are the days my husband might be off (his day off varies).
So that is what I aim for each day. Often things go crazy, and life happens, but that is part of the fun and I am learning to "go with the flow" (something my husband has been trying to teach me for 15 years - I am a slow learner).
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wanted to share a few pictures of one of my big projects this year - my newest baby nephew was chrismated and baptized into the Orthodox Church in August, and I made his gown. It is the first boy gown I have made (my husband refused to allow our little boy to wear a gown). It was a lot of fun to do a gown where the focus was on the handwork instead of the lace!
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Why I Home Educate
Why do I homeschool?
I have pondered this question often, perhaps even more so recently as I look hard at my life and my goals for my children. Of all the questions I get about homeschooling, this is the one they never ask. Perhaps they don't want to know. Perhaps they think I will make them feel guilty. Perhaps they already know the answer, or think they know the answer. When I look at my choice, I often think about how quick some are to "evangelize" the world about homeschooling; feeling compelled to personally convince everyone around them they have made the right choice, or to convince others they should make the same choice themselves. That is not a desire I have ever really had. I do not feel the need to "preach" to anyone about homeschooling, and I think most of my non-homeschool friends would agree (at least I hope they would agree!) that I do not make it my business to convince anyone who does not have the desire. I will defend my decision without hesitation when called upon to do so. I will answer questions about homeschooling, I will give advice if asked, but it is not my place to convince someone else that my decision is right for them also. So again, I ask myself, why have we chosen to educate our children at home?
The answer is easy, and yet so very complicated.
I home educate because it is the right thing to do. I say that not with condemnation or judgment - just conviction that for my children it is the right thing to do. There are many other explanations I can give - but ultimately for me, it is a matter of feeling as if God has put me in a place where my purpose right now is to train up my children in the way they should go. I feel that I cannot effectively do that when someone else (who does not share my faith, values and beliefs) spends more time with my children than I do.
I want our children to learn to walk in the Orthodox faith and become saints.
I want them to see that nothing in life comes before their love and dedication to God and His Church.
I want them to see that all learning is for God's glory, all learning exists for GOD.
I want them to learn to read so they can read the Holy Scripture and the lives of those who have walked before us and given their lives in the pursuit of eternal life.
I want them to learn grammar and spelling, logic and rhetoric, so they are able to become effective speakers and writers, and defend their faith to those who persecute them. That they, like St. Katherine, may baffle and win over even the great philosophers with the simple truth of God.
I want them to learn history so they may see God's hand over all, his love for his people and his wrath when they reject Him.
I want them to learn science and math so they may understand that we worship a God of order, not chaos; so they may stand in awe before the mind of God, so beyond our understanding.
I want them to experience the great masters of art and music, so they can see that we worship a God of beauty and harmony, and to strive toward that beauty and harmony in all areas of life.
I want them to read great literature so they may see how every story is just a part of the only story; so they may learn to discern truth and recognize when God is absent that truth becomes distorted.
There are many other reasons why I love homeschooling, but they are merely "benefits" to the job - extra perks I enjoy such as the freedom to allow my children to spend the day with Daddy when he is off on a week day, the ability to just stay home and not leave the house if I don't want to, the chance to see my children learn to read, the privilege of being the one to introduce them to the books and characters I hold so dear from my childhood, the opportunity to let my children pursue areas of learning which inspire them, the joy of letting my children spend hours outside exploring creation, the chance for them to be with each other and form friendships among themselves, the time to allow the older ones to be a part of the little ones lives as they grow, instead of being off at school all day, the luxury of just deciding to pick up and do something wonderful when the opportunity presents itself, and not be ruled by the school schedule.... I could go on, but then it might start sounding "preachy" - and I promised not to do that :)
So, while I recognize that some day circumstances may require that my children go to school, for now, when they are so young and impressionable, I will treasure the time God gives me with them, and do my best to live up to the job he has called me to do.
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Review: Linguistic Development Through Poetry Memorization
First, for anyone who has any doubts about the benefits of memory work, read this article here.
Now that you are convinced :) - go buy this program NOW!
Seriously though, I am very pleased with the purchase. The program consists of a spiral bound booklet with 4 levels of poems and a CD set with the poems recited by the author. Within the booklet is a very thorough discussion of not just why we should have our children memorize, but also why it is important they memorize poetry (good poetry, not that Shel Silverstein cr*p). The author (Andrew Pudewa) points out that in his years of teaching, the one thing children seem to be lacking the most is the ability to write well. He argues that "you can't get something out of a child's brain that isn't there to begin with." We cannot expect our children to write well if their head's are not full of examples of excellent writing. He proposes that poetry is a most effective method for "creating a large database in [the child's] brain of reliably correct and sophisticated language patterns." Poetry is easy to memorize, and full of higher vocabulary they may not be exposed to in every day reading. Poetry is full of imagery, beautiful language and sophisticated sentence structures. Children are going to fill their heads with something, so we can select what goes in, or we can allow them to go into default memorization mode where the brain stores the lyrics to every commercial jingle and pop song they hear (there are some good language patterns for you!).
Examples of poems chosen are At the Seaside (R.L. Stevenson), Trees (Kilmer), The Tiger (Blake) and The Hunting of the Dragon (Chesterton). The selections get longer and more sophisticated as you proceed through the levels, but there are plenty of simple and appealing poems in the early level that even Kindergartners can join in on the fun (the Queen has already memorized the first two poems with her brother and sister).
The only drawbacks I can see to this program are 1)cost ($65) and 2) the author's voice. Reason 2 is what made me hesitate for so long, as I have heard others complain that his voice is not what they expected and some found it too high-pitched. I would suggest you go watch this YouT*be video to see for yourself, but I found that it really was an overblown issue, and it has not bothered the kids at all. Reason 1 caused me to pause and consider only buying the book ($24), but I am so grateful I did not. It is well worth having all the poems already recorded (rather than me recording them myself), and it is a good chance for the kids to hear someone other than mom teach them! I downloaded the CD's to my i-P*d, and each morning we recite all the poems we are working on. The kids can listen to them when they want to review, and I don't have to do anything! For those with a bit of patience, it is possible to find a used set for cheaper on such boards at WTM. With four levels, I anticipate using this program for the next 3-4 years with the first two kids. The booklet also includes a series of charts to help you establish a pattern of reviewing the poems and to help each child track the poems they have memorized. In all, I think it is an excellent tool, and is quickly becoming a favorite activity in our household.
Friday, September 12, 2008
The Boy, A Kitchen, and His Cave
icon of St. Euphrosynos
Three in One: A Picture of God
Flower Fairies Alphabet Coloring Book
whole and half
Apple Fractions for older ones
growth cycle of apples
kinds of apples
where apples grow
How Do Apples Grow - good reader for little princess
Apples - higher level science for older ones
Geography, History, Literature:
How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World
The Apple & the Arrow - for olders
The Three Golden Apples - Hawthorne version Greek myth
color and fruit vocabulary
"me gusta" phrase usage
apple prints with apples
shading lessons for older ones
visit apple orchard (we actually just did this last week)
pick apples from our own apple trees
make apple pie & applesauce from our apples (maybe even apple ice cream?)
apple recipes to explore
here is another tasty sounding recipe - for apple bread
Well, I am sure I have missed some great ideas, so if you have any suggestions, hit me with them! And thanks Jen for motivating me! I am glad I finally decided to go with Amazon Prime - I can procrastinate on planning, find a great idea from someone else, and get the books here in just a few days :)
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Our School Plans - Revisited and Revised
Old Testament Children's Bible Reader (she will read these aloud to me or her little sisters)
various children's lives of the saints books
Let the Little Children Come to Me
Math on the Level - we are just beginning with this, and I am really liking it, so hopefully things will go smoothly, even though it does require more work from me.
Yesterday's Classics - First and Second Readers - she is loving these
Explode the Code - book 4 and maybe 5 depending on her pace
The Sentence Family - I am teaching this at a once a month co-op - the first lesson went great and I think the kids will really enjoy it
Copywork - poems for poetry book
I have decided NOT to continue with SWR with her - instead we will focus on ETC and when she is ready move into Spelling Wisdom for copywork and spelling practice.
Colonization and American Revolution - books to be posted later :)
Golden Children's Bible
Memoria Press Christian Studies I
Forty Saints - lives of saints, memory verses and copywork included in this
Math on the Level - and Singapore if needed
Classical Writing - Aesop - we played around with this last year, but I finally feel ready to teach it properly so hopefully we will get through it early
The Sentence Family - with the co-op
Colonization to the American Revolution - Time Travelers series - these are so much fun!
My favorite purchase for this year so far is Developing Linguistic Patterns through Poetry Memorization (fancy name for a poetry memorization program :) I will post a review on this next - but suffice it to say, it is a big hit in our house right now.
I am in the process of selecting our artists and composers for the year, I will post those when I have decided for sure. We are learning art technique at our co-op using Visual Manna as the core, and I will continue doing Atelier with the kids and my nieces & nephew.
Also, a note about science. We are currently reading Among the Pond People, and for now I am going to stick with that. As the seasons change we will be doing some tree studies, and in the spring focus on plants and butterflies, but for now I am just enjoying reading aloud the stories and letting the kids illustrate them. We have also become more consistent with our nature notebooks and nature walks.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Friday, August 29, 2008
Need Opinions Please!
Tuesday, August 26, 2008
Our school room
I finally got it clean enough to take pictures :) We start school next week, so I have been in "get ready" mode all week. I must say, I love my house! We have been so very blessed with this home, it is as if it was made for me. After moving every four years, home number four is one I hope to stay in for quite some time. Our school area is what used to be an in-law suite, so I was able to devote two whole rooms to school without interfering with other areas of the house.
Here is the room as you enter from the hallway. We spend lots of time on the futon reading, and I love the easy access to the outside. The queen (4) can go out and play with water toys or other outdoor things, and still be right where I can see her. Under the table I store some of our math manipulatives and a box of the queen's "games," activity bags that are just for school time.
Here is the view from the opposite end of the room. The door leads into the office where the computer and my sewing desk are located (the castle on the table was a project crocodile hunter did for the middle ages). The deer is courtesy of my hunter husband (hey, in our other house it hung over the bed for a year, so this is not so bad, trust me!).
Here is a great shelf I bought at Mich*el's (a great buy with a 40% off coupon!). It has math books on tops, and then various things for the queen to use during school hours.
This is our meeting area for much of our morning work. We have calendar time, recitation and new memory work here. The shelf contains art books and supplies that they can use at the table.
Here is the view from the table area into the rest of the kitchen. Have I mentioned this is my dream house? This is NOT my main kitchen, but a secondary kitchen. This house has a large kitchen on the main level, then this smaller one which was set up for an in-law suite. These areas have become our schoolroom. It is wonderful to have access to a sink, and lots of counter space without dealing with dishes etc. And most of those cabinets are full of school books, art and craft supplies, and other school goodies (a few do have my cake decorating supplies, but each school year I inch a few more cake supplies out and a few more school supplies in :)
This is the little princess' desk. The basket to the right contains all of the books she needs to access every day (Explode the Code, her readers, her main history book etc) and her notebook.
This is the crocodile hunters desk, again with his main books in the basket next to him. The blue boxes on the hearth contain knitting supplies and a set of wooden figures for biblical stories.
Finally, here is a closer look at my low shelf. I love the window in this room, and in planning the curtains and shelving, my main concern was to not block the view or the light. So I found these nifty stackable shelves at T*rget and they are just the right height. The window sills are just below the top of the shelves! In these shelves we have our math manipulatives, some educational games, flashcards, globe and map puzzles and a basket with nature books. The show box on top is full of nature finds - a birds nest, a molted snake skin - all the wonderful treasures little boys love to find and bring home! Finally, the black storage boxes on the left (from Office M*x - I love the look of these boxes) hold each child's specific flashcards.
Monday, August 25, 2008
I thought I would share what we do to learn more about the saints of the Orthodox church. I got this pocket calendar from a teacher supply store. Then each month I go to this calendar site and choose which saints I want to focus on for that month. I find an icon online and print it off on cardstock. I also have a packet of pocket icons I use. I type labels with the saints name and date of commemoration, label the back and laminate the icon. Then I insert the icons into the pockets on the date that saint is commemorated. Each morning part of our school routine is to go over the calendar information, so we always talk about which saints we are commemorating. I review with them the date of commemoration as part of our calendar review, and they spend a month looking at those icons, so they quickly come to recognize a multitude of saints. There are no number cards in the pockets yet because we do that each morning - talk about what day it is, the date, and then one of the kids puts the number card in for that day. By the end of the month all the dates are filled in. To make it still a learning experience for the Crocodile Hunter (who thinks telling the date is a bit beneath his level :) we also learn the months, days, date and weather in Spanish. Finding the icon images took some time in the beginning, but you can start small, just selecting 2 or 3 per month. Then the next year add two or three more, and in a few years you will have 10-15 saints on your calendar. I also mark all the church feast days with icons so we always have the reminder of the feast we are approaching. To keep it organized, I have a manila folder labeled with each month on the outside, and the icons stored in the appropriate envelope. Then all the envelopes are stored in a filing cabinet. This has been such a great visual way to teach the saints, and has become the focus of our morning "getting school started" routine.
Friday, August 22, 2008
Monday, August 18, 2008
I could never do that!
Saturday, August 16, 2008
In My Garden
Okay, I am really excited because I finally took the time to figure out how to upload pictures to my blog (like I said, I am a little behind the techno train.) So until I have time to blog about a few things I wanted to share pictures of (like my school room!) I thought I would share a picture from our garden. Last year our lilies struggled along, this year they have spread all over the little pond, and finally, we have blooms!
Monday, August 11, 2008
Six Random Facts About Me
1. Link to the person who tagged you (i.e. me)
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write 6 random things about yourself
4. Tag 6 people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person you have tagged know by leaving a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger (me) know when your entry is posted
Six Random Facts About Me:
1. I was voted most likely to color code my coat hangers in high school (pretty sure Jen had something to do with that :) Not only do I color code, but all hangars face to the right.
2. I married at 19 - a sophomore in college, I married my guy after a one year courtship - against the advice of all of my college buddies who were convinced I was ruining my life. Well, nearly 15 years and four beautiful children later, I would have to disagree :)
3. I was home schooled - back before homeschooling was cool! My parents were part of the movement to legalize homeschooling in our state - and we were all prepared with passports to relocate to New Zealand if the government tried to stop us! As a child, a small part of me always kind of hoped we might have to do that :) it sounded like so much fun.
4. I climbed Pikes Peak. As a teenager I attended Summit Ministries two week worldview camps (highly recommend them!) and on the last weekend of camp those who wanted could attempt the hike up Pikes Peak. It took me most of the day, and it began to snow as we hit the Peak, but it was such a thrilling experience.
5. I had a crush on Bo Duke and Remington Steel. Still think Pierce Br*snan is one of the best looking actors out there (check out Thomas Crown Affair if you don't believe me!)
6. I have always been terrified of dogs. I was chased by a huge one while riding my bike and have never been able to stand to be around them. In 1998 my husband announced he wanted to get a black lab. I said okay, all the while thinking, I can't own a dog! We went and picked one out (I kept my distance as best I could without looking like a chicken). I got over my fear only after my husband dumped this new puppy in my lap for the drive home. I think my whole body was shaking for the ride, but after 45 minutes of being forced to hold this black mass of fur, I decided dogs weren't all that bad. We still have that lab, and now have a second one (third really - our current puppy's mom we had for 2 years before she had to be put down). I feel like I have come a long way!
I am not very good about doing these things, so I am going to refrain from tagging anyone else. If you are reading this, consider yourself tagged if you want!