Thursday, November 12, 2020

Read Aloud Moments




I snapped this photo of Avril all wrapped up in a quilt listening to our family read aloud, since she looked so adorable and cozy.  We're on the last book in The Wingfeather Saga. We read a chapter or two several evenings a week first thing right after dinner.  Sometimes our parrot, Arcus, will join us and he'll choose someone to favor and allow them to pet him.  Tonight he perched on Norah's shoulder and shirt collar as she read and tried to imitate her voice by making a rumbling noise. When she's reading, he makes a noise just like an a.m. radio station that hasn't come in clear yet. When she pauses, he stops. He's a huge distraction, and we all laugh, just reinforcing his behavior.  

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Sabbath


On Sunday afternoons, I usually find myself done with all my Circe, Challenge 3, or graduate school work for the week and I realize that I can do whatever I want for the first time in many days. It feels incredible to be so free for a few hours.  I usually always indulge by reading something I choose that's totally unassigned or unrelated to anything I need to read. Today, I chose to read an essay by Montaigne titled "On Books." With so much course work, there are several books on my shelf I am being kept from and this book of essays is one of those.  Sometimes I post here on the blog, choosing pictures taken throughout the previous week/s to write about. I'll clean something I don't normally get to. Today, I listened to a podcast and organized several bookshelves. I'll add events, people, or important book titles my timeline. I'll fill in my common place book with quotes I've read all week.  It's a lovely few hours and it feels truly restful, meditative, even celebratory.  

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Directing Challenge 3 Update


I'm directing a Challenge 3 class this year for our Classical Conversations group.  Since I'm in my first year of graduate school for Classical Education and in my third year of the Circe Apprenticeship, I have to manage my time really carefully. Therefore, one or two days a week, I'll just devote myself to working through the Chemistry and Music Theory, etc. as my daughters are doing their schoolwork.  Sometimes I'll do the Chemistry experiments ahead of time just to ensure I know how to guide the students through the lab safely and effectively. This picture was an experiment designed to calculate and compare the various densities of liquids including maple syrup, vegetable oil, and water.  Really digging into the material as if I am a student is one of the best things I do for myself as a tutor. From that place of understanding, I can ask better questions.  

Monday, November 9, 2020

Graduate School Update

 

I am always reading a few books at any given time. 

I just outline a reading plan for the books, so many chapters a day, etc. 

That way, I can get through the books in time to incorporate the content in meaningful ways into my assignments. 

I am constantly using all the ink up in highlighters and needing new ones.

I'm almost always reading related articles or books, too. 

It's not uncommon to be quoting from multiple sources in one same assignment and to have to have them all open and strewn everywhere. 

I live in the midst of stacks now.

I can't remove the stacks, either.  

I am bound to need the book I put back on the shelf soon enough to regret cleaning up.    

Almost as soon as a new concept is learned, it has to be applied to some assignment, so my brain is always at work processing and applying even in the shower.  

Sometimes it's as much as I can do to just engage wholeheartedly in the singular, next task set before me without reflecting on what is actually happening or what I am retaining. 

But there are moments when I realize that I am learning so many new things and even truly mastering topics.  

I am sometimes weary, sometimes overwhelmed, but always grateful.  


Sunday, November 8, 2020

Ginger-Tumeric-Lemon-Honey Tea


Ginger-Tumeric-Ginger-Honey Tea

Ingredients:

Fresh ginger

Fresh turmeric

Lemon

Honey

Equipment:

Cutting board

Knife

Cheese grater

Strainer

Tea kettle

Measuring Cup

Tea Mug

Spoon

Paper Towels

Directions:

1. Heat water. (I use an electric tea kettle.) 

2.Chop fresh ginger and turmeric into small pieces (approx. one square inch each). 

3. Slice the skin off these pieces of ginger and tumeric. (This is similar to taking the skin off potatoes or cleaning the rough outside off of carrots.)  

4. Use small cheese grater to grate the tumeric and ginger into the bottom of a glass measuring cup. (I hold the tumeric with a paper towel so that it doesn't stain my fingers.)  

5. Add a slice of lemon.

6. Pour the hot water over the grated ginger and tumeric and the lemon slice.  

7. Cover the measuring cup with a plate and let it sit for several minutes.

8. Clean up the cutting board, etc.

8. Strain the tea through a fine strainer into a tea cup.

9. Dispose of the ginger, tumeric, and lemon in the trash or garbage disposal and clean the strainer, etc. 

10.  Add honey to taste. Stir until its mixed.  Enjoy.  


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Consistency Leads to Progress


It's that time of year when everyday is basically the same, but it is also that time of year when we make a ton of progress.  Adele's reading is improving quickly. Avril is writing two essays a week for Essentials by choice. I only assign one, but she wants to do two and finds that easy. Additionally, she will often research a topic and read or deliver another short essay, basically, to use for her Foundations class presentations.  She will most definitely be Challenge-ready next year.  Norah is getting As in college for her Challenge 3 work.  I'm thankful and I do enjoy spending my life teaching (and learning with) these girls.  

Monday, October 19, 2020

This Season


Every season of homeschooling is different.  

This is a common scene in this particular season. 

When the chores are all done and everyone is showered and settled down to work, the girls are usually all in the same room for a while, working quietly together. 

I am usually also at work in same room on something of my own.  

I quietly give thanks when I hear the rustling of bodies and the scribbling of pencils and the turning of pages.

This last time it happened I looked up and captured this picture. 

I've disciplined and nurtured them in the same daily routine and I've set expectations for years and years and years and years.

And years. 

So moments like these are the fruit of that. 

I'm grateful for this season. 


Right On Track


She was doing the advanced quid et quo for one of her Essentials sentences. 

"Jesus" was the subject noun.  

From across the room, she asks,"Mom, Is Jesus a concrete, abstract, or collective noun?"  

I looked up as my mouth dropped open, because Norah had asked the same question at the same age while doing the same thing. 

When she saw my face, she asked, "What?"  

I laughed and told her, "Great question. You're right on track. Norah asked the exact same question." 

"Really?" she asked.  

And then we discussed theology a bit. 

I have had several more years to think about it since Norah asked that question. 

The Trinity is all still quite a mystery.  

But I told her the answer "concrete" is safely substantiated, since Jesus was incarnate, He was raised bodily from the dead, and He is still human as He sits at God's right hand. 

The fact that she asked the same question shows me she's getting dialectic in much the same way her sister was at the same age.  

And it's just delightful to be on this journey with another daughter. 

May God give me the grace to do the whole thing again with the second and then again with the third. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020


We warmed some apple cider and drank it after dinner while we read a few chapters from The Wingfeather Saga.  We are almost done with the last book and this will be our second time reading the series.

 

 

Saturday, October 17, 2020

Advanced Quid Et Quo


It's year three of Essentials.

So we've started advanced quid et quo with every sentence.  

She'll be ready for the more advanced grammar that comes with Latin beginning next year in Challenge A.  

Note: I'm enjoying this journey through Essentials differently with my second daughter. 

I have much less anxiety and much more confidence. 

I've seen where all this is headed and it's good.  

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Blue Jay Orchards




 We visited Blue Jay's and picked some apples and purchased several types of jam to enjoy this winter. Avril and Adele helped me make an apple pie. 

Wednesday, October 14, 2020


 It's that time of year again, fires every night. 

Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Grad School Update


In my EDUC class, we've read The Peacemaker by Sande, The Question by Leigh Bortins, The Lost Tools of Learning by Dorothy Sayers, and several other articles that range in topic from Classical method to international leadership. 

In my ENGL class, we have read Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, and The Scarlet Letter, and many, many texts or excerpts or scholarly articles about literary criticism. 

I do a lot of thinking and writing, so much writing, as I try to comprehend the new material, study the texts, formulate a meaningful response to the prompts, respond to peers' posts, and basically, complete all my assignments each week. 

I'm managing it for now, but I probably won't take two classes at once again, not with everything else a wife, a homeschooling mom, a Challenge director, and a Circe Apprentice has to do at the same time.  



Sunday, October 11, 2020

Dante's Paradise


"'In his will is our peace, that is the sea whereto all creatures fare, fashioned by Nature or the hand of God.'

Then it was clear to me that everywhere in Heaven is Paradise."

Canto 3 Lines 85-89



My internal landscape is changing because of Dante.  

It's as if I can feel God's thumbs pressing into the clay of my being as I contemplate the ideas behind the words. 

And the ideas are also changing my external landscape.  

I don't need much scope to see beauty in the world around me anymore. 

Sometimes I'll stop just to watch light play off or through the leaves or windows. 

It's not that Scripture has lost its sacred place and that other books are taking an inordinate place. 

It's just that I am recognizing that God is at work in all the beauty, truth, and goodness that surrounds me. 

He uses books and nature and music, everything that's redemptive, to teach me, to point Himself out to me as we go along together through this world.  

I am transferring my favorite lines to a common place book. 

It's as if I'm being gifted gem after precious gem to store in a treasure chest for my soul. 

I've gone through the Inferno and Purgatory and I've made it to Paradise now. 

And the timing of that journey has been profound. 

My father died right before I started reading The Inferno. 

And then another person died.

And then another.  

And I had to go the long way down before I came back up. 

It was a season of death and grief and chaos and suffering and it's ending now. 

The Lord kindly timed it all, and gently lead me like a Father and a friend to these books and they have really helped.  

The imagery in many of the worship songs we sing at church brings images from the journey to mind as I sing and that has a dynamic effect on my worship experience.  

I wouldn't trade what's going on between my two ears or inside my chest for anything, except for the Christ who abides with me there.

We climb mountains together in my mind.  

We feast in temple of my heart.  

Christ, Himself, is the journey and the destination.  

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Leaf Peeping



We took a drive through Connecticut last Sunday to see the leaves. On impulse, we stopped at a farm not too far off our route. There, we completed a corn maze, petted a docile young cow and an affectionate old horse, and we ate the most delicious pumpkin cupcakes with butter cream frosting.  

Friday, October 9, 2020

Directing Challenge 3


 


We are about halfway through the first semester of Challenge 3 and I have to testify, it's going well.  God is faithful. My testimony is:  He can do anything He wants with anyone He chooses.  

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Bee Update


Our friend is a beekeeper and she keeps one of her hives at our house.  We are learning so much by watching and helping her care for the bees.  She has treated them for mites and we have started giving them a saturated sugar solution, so that they can make a load of honey before winter.  As it is now, they'll need less mites and more honey to go into the winter in the best condition.  You can see one of the their empty frames in the photo above.  I prop it on the windowsill to make a lovely light catcher.  

Saturday, October 3, 2020

Working It All Out


We've transformed the basement into an exercise room.  We removed all the furniture and we took the equipment out of the storage room and put it on hand.  This way, I won't have to spend ten-fifteen minutes picking up dirty socks and blankets and toys and craft supplies and game controllers and moving furniture before exercising. I won't have to drag my weights out of the closest and then put them back in the closet. I quit my job at the gym teaching exercise classes to start graduate school and finish The Circe Apprenticeship. I'm also directing Challenge 3 and homeschooling three kids. But now I am quickly losing my health to the books. I spend hours doing mental work, so I desperately need exercise for some balance.  I feel hopeful about this change, especially since we are going into winter when I'll need activity in leu of the oft absent sunshine.  

Friday, October 2, 2020

Directing Challenge 3


 I'm directing Challenge 3 this year.  My oldest daughter is in my class.  It's going on week six.  It's amazing, but challenging and exhausting.  But I wouldn't trade it for the world.  

Thursday, October 1, 2020

Quality Time



I am doing a lot of reading because of graduate school.  

So I am doing a lot of sitting. 

The girls will come and put their heads in my lap, even if my lap is not empty. 

And they want to rest with me and talk and they want me to run my fingers through their hair.  

I realize that even though I am here more, because I am not working at the gym and working on school instead, I'm actually here less, because I am so focused on school. 

So I try to give them some quality time in those moments before pushing their head off my lap and shewing them off so I can get back to work.

I'm learning something very profound in those moments. 

Kids really do need a roof over their heads and full bellies and new shoes and enriching activities and great role models, etc.  

But they also need a relationship with me and that simply takes time.  

 

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Sweet Sixteen


Norah turned sixteen earlier this month. 

(And of course, since she was born the day before my twenty-fifth birthday, that means I turned forty-one the next day.)  

This photo was taken after her birthday dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, her choice.  

 

Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Essentials- Year Three for Avril


 It's Avril third year of Essentials. 

That makes it my sixth year, because her older sister, Norah, went through three years of Essentials, too.

This year, Avril's handwriting her own keyword outlines and rough drafts on notebook paper. In previous years, I scaled her work by helping her with all or some of the handwriting and typing. Back then, she dictated everything. 

Now after she handwrites it, I edit the rough draft. 

Then she adds dress ups, etc. using the checklists and vocabulary cards. 

Then she types her paper and prints. 

I edit it one last time, and then she retypes and prints her final.  

She's doing every analytical task of every sentence now. We scaled this work in previous years, too.  She only did a few tasks of a few sentences the first year. Last year, she did more sentences, but still not every task.  

She's diligently practicing charts and I can tell she's likely to remember every detail of every chart by the end of this year.  In previous years, we practiced and reviewed the charts only a few times a week and mostly aloud. But now that her handwriting is improved, she can copy and practice on her own and more often.  

She's practicing her math facts diligently and gaining more speed and accuracy with multiplication facts, too.  Her little sister is old enough to hold the flash cards up for her now, so they usually practice together ten minutes a day.  

God is so faithful.  

I can testify that earlier in this journey, I never imagined Avril and I would be ready for what we're doing at this point or how easy it would be to do it all, but that was only because we didn't need to be ready back then and it was new, so it couldn't be easy yet.  

We just had to do what we could at the time we could do it and remain consistent.   

Lord willing, she begins Challenge A next year. 

Norah will be in Challenge 4. 

And Adele will begin her first year of Essentials next year.  

She'll be ready.  

We'll all be ready for what is next, I'm sure. 

We just have to remain consistent. 

Monday, September 28, 2020

Graduate School


It's week six of graduate school. I transferred my articles and notes from a very, very full one inch binder to a new three inch binder today to make room for what's still to come. 

I finished my essays early this week, so in the last day, I've read a novel, one that wassn't assigned, and I even found some moments to blog.  

Perhaps this post will serve to remind me of this very, very busy season someday. 

I have little to no margin right now with everything I'm doing. I homeschool three daughters, one of which submitting some of her work for college credits and therefore, needs more support. I direct Challenge 3. I am in my third year of the Circe Apprenticeship, and I'm taking an EDUC and an ENGL class. 

This pace is certainly not sustainable. I'm doing my best to sleep enough and eat right, but there is no time for exercise or for any healthy leisure. 

I'm planning to take only one class at a time from now on. I realized I am in no hurry to finish my masters. The plan is to be ready for what opportunities may come when the girls are grown and out of my homeschool. Lord willing, that will take at least ten more years. 

But by God's grace, I'll make it through this semester, then I'll slow down. 

I am learning a lot, love what I'm learning, and I find myself thankful often, even if I'm often overwhelmed.   


Sunday, September 27, 2020

Spiderweb


A spider made its web right across the outside of this window almost as if it were framed there. I tried to get a photo of the web, but the camera couldn't capture it.  I thought the girls looked beautiful, too, looking up at the web, so I captured their beauty instead. 

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Monday, August 3, 2020


On the way home from our date, we saw this fawn crossing the road to catch up to his mom. It had so many spots!  We watched the two eat foliage for a few minutes before going on.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Wineberries and Caterpillars


We're back in CT. It's time to harvest wineberries from our backyard. 


And we found a monarch caterpillar on milkweed beside the pond.  





Saturday, August 1, 2020

Date Night


Dwayne's company celebrated 100 years and hosted a picnic for the employees and their families last night.  At that picnic, Dwayne won two gift certificates to Black Angus by answering trivia questions about the company's history.  We had another gift certificate to Black Angus stashed in the drawer from another work event, so all three certificates provided a really lovely date night.  I had a small cup of beef and vegetable broth and a half a wedge salad, then I had the cedar plank salmon, which is probably the best entree I've ever eaten anywhere anytime.  Dwayne had shrimp cocktail and then a really nice filet.  We ended the meal with hot coffees and their amazing chocolate mouse. Oh, the flavors!

Thursday, July 30, 2020

Visit to SC Cont.


Right around the end of our visit to Mom's in South Carolina, her cats were finally comfortable with us. It figures, because cats.


Adele drew this doodle of Grandma after the first day. Notice Mom's cats and she's wearing her birdhouse shirt.


Mom wore the same shirt again the last day of our visit, so I got a pic of her with her doodle.


Adele also left Mom with a black eye.  Mom was showing her how to twirl her old baton throughout the week and one thing led to another. Poor Grandma.  This is incredibly heartwarming and funny to me, probably because I am a bad person.


Sunday, July 26, 2020

Eclectic Particular Grace


I did not have a happy childhood.

God knows. 

But I must also acknowledge that my childhood was not all bad.

It could have been much worse. 

So even as I look back at the darkness and pain in my memories, I find gratitude in my heart.  

The grace of God works backwards like CS Lewis says and I see my whole life filling up with glory.

There are words I might use to help describe my childhood: poverty, disorder, filth, neglect, violence, anger, abuse.

But if I had to sum up everything in one word it would be sin.   

My parents' sin 
Their parents' sin 
And probably their parents' sin, but the stories in living memory only go back so far.
My parents' siblings' sin 
And my parents' sin in response to their parents' and their siblings' sin 
My siblings' sin 
And my sin in response to my siblings' sin 
And my sin in response to my parents' sin
And my own sin was there, is there still. 

From all the testimonies and from my own memories, I see the problem of sin probably stretches back all the way to Eve and reaches so deep as to infect the whole earth. 

The roots that cause disorder in my life are connected to the roots that cause the disorder in all of Creation.  

But God has been gracious to me.
I came to Christ. 
Or did Christ come to me? 
I started following Him. 
I left home.

He who is loves his father and mother more than me is not worthy of me. 

By leaving home, I mean that God provided for me in nearly miraculous, but also very practical ways, and I found a way out of one lifestyle and into another way of life. 

But I also mean that I "left home" and started walking out of the sins that held my family for generations.

But interestingly, the road to God, through it led away from my family in one sense, has also led me straight back to family in another. 

God has never allowed me to severe relationship with the people who have hurt me the most, though there were times I was tempted to do so. 

He's lead me back, through the chaos, right into it, with the burden of the disorder in my own hands and even, at times, on my own back.  

I don't believe in Purgatory, but then again, I do, since I've been in it. The process of living in family has felt like Purgatory at times.  

We recently took responsibility for my aging mother and bought her a condo to live in.  

Honor thy father and mother. 

God asked us to do what we say we believe. 

But in this, our story is not unique, since we know many people are caring for their parents, just as many have done before. 

We also helped her move out of her old place and into the new.  

For me, personally, unpacking my Mom's boxes and organizing her stuff and getting her settled was like going through Hell, literally. 

Almost every item represented a bitter-sweet, painfully acute, or even Hellish memory for me.  

But I felt the presence of God holding me together as I unpacked her boxes.

And the most interesting thing happened as I submitted to that work.

The items were literally redeemed as they came up out of the boxes and they came together into a beautiful, eclectic mix that fills her dwelling place and is simply beautiful.

And seeing her in that beauty blesses me.  

God uses us to do His work here on earth.  

The wall of photos in the picture above is always a testimony to my soul as I walk through her front door. 

Most of those frames were salvaged out of random boxes filled with random junk.

The frames were often purchased on impulse with money better spent on necessities we may have gone without. 

Many of the frames were never even used, just hoarded like many other things were hoarded.

But when all the unpacking and organizing and purging was done, these frames had been collected into a pile, and it was time to decorate. These came together with old photos into this eclectic collection that adorns her wall.  

God brings everything together like that.   

He gives beauty for ashes.  

He made something beautiful and unique out of all those poor choices, those seemingly unredeemable particularities.  

Such is the grace of God for my particular family. His grace is beautiful and unique to us. 

I just look at the whole thing in wonder and awe. 

Even though God is using my hands to do the work, I often feel I am just a bystander.  

Don't be afraid to follow God anywhere He leads, even if it is to confront your painful past and work to redeem it.  

Submit to a relationship with God and be ready when you are in relationship with Him, for a relationship with the triune God may lead you to have to submit to various relationships with others.  

Blessed are the peacemakers. 

With God's help, do what is right by the people in your life even if they are undeserving.

Who is deserving of God's grace anyway?

I think of Christ in Gethsemane.  

He did not deserve to suffer, but He chose relationship.  

Even the best of us would be poor and desperate without Him. 

On the other side of this process of relationship to God and others, He will have fashioned a diamond from the rough. 

In the end, you, and perhaps your family, too, will be able to reflect facets of His glory in particular ways that no one else can.  


Saturday, July 25, 2020

Visit to Grandma's in SC

We're taking near daily drives through Dunkin. 
It's nice to get cold drinks in the southern heat. 


My mom was a majorette in college and my youngest is learning to twirl her old baton. 


We've been going to the pool everyday, sometimes twice a day. 







I added some more photos to Mom's collages. 




Mom made homemade vanilla- banana- Nilla wafer pudding. 




We hung a bunch of paintings for Mom. This one is a watercolor done by her sister Patty. 


My oldest is making Mom a new dishcloth. Note: Croqueted dish cloths are the best. 




 
I've been making three meals a day at home. I'm making stuff Mom likes like beans and cornbread.