Friday, November 30, 2007

The end of our first term

We made it. Today is the end of our first term. I've divided our school year into three manageable chunks of three terms of twelve weeks. Recently, I wrote that we were settling into a nice rhythm, but in the past couple of weeks I realized that I was already anticipating November 30th. I am ready for a break. I don't know about Luke, but I am ready for a change of pace around here. I'm sure that Thanksgiving broke our rhythm and it doesn't help that mentally I was already jumping ahead to all of my Advent plans. So, our schedule works out great as we can slow down and transition into the new Liturgical year. We can savor all of the richness this season has to offer. Now, I don't want to suggest that we take the whole month of December off. Remember, we're always learning! We're just going to focus on different things. As always, there is going to be a lot of story time and with the stacks and stacks of Advent and Christmas books that I've checked out from the library, we won't lack for a good story. I have tons of ideas. I want to read A Christmas Carol aloud during the evenings. (Last year, we checked out many different movie versions of A Christmas Carol. Luke couldn't get enough of this story and yet we did not read it aloud last year! Also, I've been looking all over for my Nutcracker CD to no success. You can bet that I will find it after Christmas, but I'm not that upset. I just ordered another copy and I know that this will comprise most of our study music during December. We are going to read The Nutcracker and learn about this fairy tale and we just read It's a Wonderful Life for kids! by Jimmy Hawkins which inspired me for a It's a Wonderful Life rabbit trail. I haven't seen the movie in a long time and I was excited that Paul checked it out from the library yesterday. Luke hasn't seen this movie yet either. There are so many charming holiday movies out there. Usually Luke balks at the idea of a black and White film, but we started watching Holiday Inn with Bing Crosby and Fred Astaire last night and so far, he really likes it without complaining about it being in black and white. (I can't believe I've never seen this film before!) So, as you can see my mind is churning on how to encompass both the magic and beauty of the Christmas season. I've also got some crafts planned. To coincide with our reading Snowflake Bentley, we are going to make 3-D snowflakes from a kit I ordered from Chinaberry and we're going to make beaded snowflake ornaments. (We actually started these and they are a little more challenging than I originally anticipated, but we shall persevere.) Also, I would like to take the time to memorize (along with Luke) the famous Clement C. Moore poem, The Night Before Christmas and I just got another idea! Of course, it will mean having more stacks of books, but it might be fun to check out several different editions of The Night Before Christmas and see how different illustrators interpret this poem. Borrowing from Real Learning, I've gotten the fairy bug. What a great way to teach Botany! There will be some interesting things to learn about the evergreens in our backyard! Next week we will celebrate the feast of St. Nicholas and this Sunday, we will light our first Advent candle. As you can see, I'm really excited as we move into new rhythms for Advent.


Stacks and stacks. This describes my nightstand. I have way too many books on my nightstand. I am constantly trying to reduce the amount of books by putting them somewhere else and usually that somewhere else is another stack. (We have a real lack of bookshelf space since we moved. I fear most of my books may stay tucked away in boxes for years!) Anyway, no sooner than I move a stack of books, but another stack erupts. It's like pulling weeds. Once you pull them and walk away relieved, they grow right back while your back is turned. Now, I'm not complaining about books. Normally, I don't like clutter, but I'm learning that I have to make serious concessions when it comes to books. I can't read just one. I'm just interested in too many things and well, the stacks will have to stay.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Now, that we understand what he's saying...

We usually eat pizza and enjoy a family movie on Friday nights. Well last week, Sammy kept saying, "doo-da". We thought he was saying something like "do that", but we finally discovered that's how he says "pizza". You can imagine why it took us a while to figure it out, but once we did, we can't help calling pizza "doo-da" ourselves. Today, we learned that he says movie by saying "foofy".

Anyone up for some doo-da and a foofy?

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Favorite Autumn Picture Books

This Autumn, we've enjoyed quite a collection of picture books that reflect on the wonders of the Season. I've already blogged about Christopher's Harvest Time. This might be our favorite from this Fall. We just loved the gentle and sweet illustrations. I was seriously reluctant to give it back to the library. We've also enjoyed Tasha Tudor's Pumpkin Moonshine also because of the illustrations. Like Elsa Beskow, Tasha Tudor has a talent for gentle and lovely illustrations. For the past two months, we've relied heavily on Poetry for Young People: Robert Frost for copywork. This book has the poems of Robert Frost divided up by the four seasons. So, he copied many poems from the Autumn section. This is definitely one for our bookshelf as I had to give this one back to the library as well. I think Luke really enjoyed the poems too. I recently checked out Harvest Home by Jane Yolen again. I love this book! I think I enjoyed this book more than Luke, but I was completely taken in with the beautiful pictures by Greg Shed. I could almost feel the hot sun on me as I imagined myself harvesting wheat. I looked on Amazon and it appears to be out of print. What a bummer! Also, I read the Autumn Story by Jill Barklem to the boys this week. It is part of the Brambly Hedge collection and several of these books seem to be out of print as well. The story was cute, but the pictures are very reminiscent of Beatrix Potter and I know that will appeal to a lot of you. Another book we've enjoyed is Over the River and through the Wood. This book is the famous poem written by Lydia Maria Child and this book is illustrated with woodcuts which evokes that wonderful winter outdoors-y feeling. Luke liked this because he also used this poem in copywork and then memorized it. I hear him humming and singing this song a lot! We also enjoyed Leaf Man by Lois Ehlert. This big, over-sized book is just wonderful! There are so many colorful Fall leaves in transition. It's fun to see how a single leaf can contain so much color. There are tons of maple of leaves to enjoy up close. Finally, we recently read Raccoon Moon and well, raccoons just seem to embody Autumn. This picture book has beautiful artwork and well, we needed to read about some animals we see here in our back yard!

Now, it's time to gather a collection of treasure in the form of Advent, Christmas and Winter picture books. I know there will be more favorites to add to the list!

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Trying to find rhythm and beauty in each day

As we've moved into November, I've noticed that we're settling into a nice routine. Maybe it's not the routine that I initially planned in late August, but this fits much more nicely than anything I could have come up with. I've learned that I'm at my worst in the morning. I don't know why, but it really takes a lot for me to get going. It's not like I need coffee or anything to jolt me into action, but I'm just slow in the mornings. I don't particularly like this about myself, but I'm learning to accept these things about myself. Since I know this, I can plan around this shortcoming. Actually, I've realized that the more I accept about myself, the happier and more content I am with the course of my day.

After breakfast, Luke starts in on his morning core subjects (math, handwriting, Latin) while I clean up and get Sammy ready for the day. After that, the boys have been spending time outside. We're having one spectacular Autumn here in Colorado! After the boys come back inside, we sit down and I read them a book. Pretty soon it's lunch time! I make Luke his lunch and he goes to his room where he eats and listens to a book on CD. (Right now, it's Rascal by Sterling North.) I feed Sammy his lunch and then he goes down for his nap. After Luke has finished his lunch, he comes down and we do art together. We spend this time drawing and working on our lapbooks. Currently, Luke is making a book for Autumn and Thanksgiving. I haven't drawn this much since college! I'm really enjoying this time with him. It forces me to forget about dirty dishes and laundry and I get to spend uninterrupted time with my son. Normally, I have this huge amount of anxiety over these tasks not getting done, but I know that art time is special and important around here and I'd rather Luke remember that I drew with him than remember that I washed dishes while he drew. I strive daily to fend off the anxiety that I feel about accomplishing everything and I pray daily for contentment in not accomplishing everything, but only the important things.

As it gets dark earlier and it continues to get colder, I am warmed by our flexible routine of learning all day. In the evenings, I look forward to snuggling with the boys and reading some more. There is endless joy in our learning lifestyle.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

The Feast of All Saints

We started the day with Mass and afterward, we enjoyed some treats at Starbucks. We're enjoying a relaxing Autumn day here. We read about St. Francis of Assisi from The Book of Saints and Heroes by Andrew Lang and Lenora Lang. We're going to work on Luke's Thanksgiving book and just enjoy the day!