Category Archives: Paideia

Learning of all sorts.

Homeschool Highlights

Lucy and her friend were practicing multiplication tables this morning (not my idea – I love having extra kids around sometimes!) and they decided it would be fun to make it into a Go Fish! game.  So they did.  And spent half an hour or so playing 6 Times Table Go Fish.

Just caught Clare explaining to another friend about how difficult it was for Michelangelo to carve David (“and if he made a tiny mistake, just this big, the whole thing would be ruined!”) and retelling the story of The Library Mouse.  Narration?  Done.

And as I type, Isaac is trying to put an apple slice in my pocket.  Earlier he was working on building train tracks.

In other news, I should be putting my first children’s book manuscript in the mail in the next couple of days.  Pray hard!  Asking St. Therese of Lisieux for special help, since it is about her, after all.  (And if you want a preview, let me know and I’ll send the text along.)

The Courage of Sarah Noble: Lucy’s book review

🙂 You should read The Courage of Sarah Noble.  You should read it because it is about a little girl named Sarah Noble and she goes into the woods with her father to build a house near Indians.  She had to leave the rest of her family behind because there wasn’t enough room to bring everybody.  The Indians turned out to be nice.  So when her father left to bring the rest of their family home, Sarah stayed with the Indians.  Their closest friend was Tall John so she stayed at Tall John’s house.  The Indians of the North were the other Indians’ enemies.  The most interesting part was that the Indians at the North passed by the Indians at night and did not disturb the Indians.  Sarah Noble taught the Indian children many things, and they taught her new Indian games.
the end
Love,
Lucy
PS
this is one of the best books ever! 🙂

A Lion to Guard Us: Lucy’s book review

This book is about three little children.  There names were Amanda, Jemmy, and Meg.  They sailed on a ship to go to America and to find their father in Jamestown.  Their father had a door knocker that people thought was made of gold.  Dr. Crider is a doctor that helped them get to the boats and he fell overboard on the ship.  Their ship got shipwrecked at an island and they  built a tiny village.  They built two ships and sailed to Jamestown.  They found their father at Jamestown.  My favorite part was them getting to find their father. 
Love, Lucy.
P.S.
This book was the best book in my life!

Trumpet of the Swan: Lucy’s book review

I liked

Trumpet of the Swan.  You should read it.  It is about a swan who doesn’t have a voice, but gets a trumpet and learns how to play it.

The swan’s name is Louis.

Louis’ dad robbed a music store to get a trumpet.

It is also about a little boy named Sam.  Sam saves Louis’ mother from a fox by hitting him on the nose with a stick.  Louis works so he can pay back the trumpet that his father stole.  It was very exciting.  My most favorite part was when Louis got a trumpet, because he did not have a voice.  The book has pictures in black and white.

Of spiders and schoolgirls

I just have to say, I am so glad we are homeschooling.  Lucy informed me last week that the picture books I had been getting from the library were “getting boring”, so I thought, “fair enough- we’ll move up to the 3rd-5th grade reading list.  I started her with Charlotte’s Web.  She is reading it herself (and she doesn’t know every word, but has no trouble at all discussing the story with me) so I am reading it myself, too.  And I had forgotten, if I ever really appreciated, what a wonderful book it is.  Which I most likely would have missed out on if she were in school, and it wasn’t my job to pay attention to what she was reading and what she is getting out of it.
In other news, Lucy is about to loose her third tooth in less than a month, and all three girls are loving their ballet classes.  Lucy is very excited about her first communion this spring, and has taken possession of my old Precious Moments Bible (from my first communion) earlier than I had planned, because she wants to read it, too.
And tonight we make pumpkin pie.  It’s a good life.

Week two: bees, birds, and blueberries

So it took us a full week to get the last week’s post functional. But there it is. (And then it took almost a full week to get this one functional…we’re actually almost done with C now…but more on that later.)  So these are would have been kind of back-to-back, but hopefully the kinks are worked out and things will be smoother from now on.
This week we focused on the letter B, with Saints Bernadette and Bernard, and the bugle flower fairy, and lots of bees and birds, and a few bears and blueberries.
We made letter B’s out of modeling wax, which Lucy promptly turned into a butterfly, a la Fancy Nancy.

Lucy's Amazing Butterfly

Lucy’s Amazing Butterfly

(Sadly, butterflies did not get the attention they deserved this week – keeping them in mind for the next trip down the path.) Lucy has mastered half-whole relations (1st grade math GLE-6 for those of you following along). We also went through the bird guide to discuss how different birds have differently adapted bodies, and how they use them. Not full-on natural selection so much as the beauty of variety and the complexity of creation. More important than natural selection, in my opinion, now that I think about it.

Fr. Thomas reading to the girls (in a british accent)

Fr. Thomas reading to the girls (in a british accent)

Fr. Thomas Schafgin joined us for tea and dinner on Friday. Well, dinner, then tea, since we forgot to warn him about the New Orleans-to-Baton Rouge Friday traffic. We had blueberry tea and blueberry scones with a lemon glaze for tea time/dessert. Lucy is really learning her way around the kitchen. Mixing the dough was followed by all three girls getting a turn to experiment with the measuring cups and a bowl of water. Those were happy children.  They were also happy being read to by Fr. Thomas…

Lucy & Clare with Butterfiies

Lucy & Clare with Butterfiies

Clare's Clay

Clare’s Clay

 

Here are this week’s books, in no particular order:

Comet’s Nine Lives
The Mitten
The Umbrella
Honey, Honey, Lion!
Town Mouse, Country Mouse
By Jan Brett
Jan Brett’s art is gorgeous. The girls like the stories, too.

Wild Birds by Joanne Ryder
I like it. Beautiful pictures of all kinds of (mostly) song birds. I think my mom would like this one. 🙂

Saint Francis Preaches to the Birds by Peter Schumann
Simple story with simple, striking illustrations. Not convinced St. Francis drank coffee, though. Haven’t investigated that yet.

Brigid’s Cloak by Bryce Milligan
I didn’t know this story before. Really, really beautiful.

The Bird House by Cynthia Rylant
A sweet story about an orphan girl finding a home. And, of course, birds.

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen
Classic. Beautiful. I like it because it points out how even a child can put aside discomfort, when necessary, for something important.

Owl Babies by Martin Waddell
Cute baby-mommy story.

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey
One of Clare’s favorites. She asks me to tell her this one after the lights are out at bed time. And I do, because it’s well-written, and a really fun story.

The Life of the Honeybee by Heiderose and Andreas Fischer-Nagel
Informative bee book.

Busy Buzzy Bee by Karen Wallace
Easy-reader about bees.

So. And today (Saturday, 8/17, when I started this post!), Lucy went to a tennis open house at city park, which she wants to do every week from now on. And she and Craig took apart the broken CD player to see how it works. And she made the meatballs for the spaghetti, which is on the stove right now. So…art lessons resume next week. And I did a basket switch, because the basket for the “school” books was only about half big enough. The library ladies are going to be tired of me soon. 🙂

Lucy’s Giraffe

image

We visited the zoo today, and this was Lucy’s drawing, from, memory, of one of the giraffes we saw.  Too cute not to share!

The Trip, Part 1: Hospitality

I’m pretty sure this will take several days to explain, in part since my writing time is now divided by a number of thank-you notes which must be written with all haste.

Which seems like as good a place as any to start.  We were very, very blessed by the generosity of friends and strangers on our trip to Fargo, ND, this past week.  We were gone from Tuesday morning to the following Tuesday night, and only spent one of those nights away in a hotel.  So pending the thank-you notes, here are the people to whom we owe our very awesome, very long trip.

We spent the first night in St. Louis, MO, with Nate, Angela, and John Paul.  Craig got to know Nate first in his role as a Catholic blogger (read: “they met on the internet!”)  Nate and Angela are in the beginning stages of starting a new Catholic Worker on the other side of town from the long-standing Worker of St. Louis, and as they have kicked most modern communication technology out of their house, we’ve been corresponding with them by snail mail for a couple of months now…mostly about whether they would be interested in allowing us to crash at their house on our way north.  Happily, they were willing.  We left New Orleans early, arrived in St. Louis in the afternoon, and had a great time having dinner, going to playgrounds, eating frozen custard, and discussing the joys and difficulties of living a holistic Catholic lifestyle.  Nate and Angela were leaving on their own road trip the next day, so we were really grateful to them for going out of their way to take us in.

Next we went on to Iowa City, where we stayed with people we actually knew, Mike and Violet and their beautiful daughters Stella and Juniper.  They let us stay two nights, so we had time to visit, take the kids to the library, stay up late, and marvel at how peaceful Juniper is at all times.  Mike and Violet let us sleep on their mattress.  They are awesome.  They offered to leave things where they were in case we wanted to stop back there on the way home.  Sadly, we didn’t make it back to see them again this trip.

From Iowa City we went on to the original purpose of the trip, a Young Disciples reunion in Fargo, ND.  There, again we stayed with strangers, although the arrangements for this “host home” had been made by a friend of ours who used to run the YD program.  Josh and Tracy, the young couple we stayed with, provided toys, stairs, and cereal for the girls, as well as a Mary Poppins cup with built in straw.  What more could little girls need?  We were there Friday and Saturday nights, and had a good reunion and more fascinating theological discussion.  That was actually the other theme of the trip.

While we were in Iowa City, Mike and Violet had mentioned the place their friend Brenna was living: a Catholic Worker farm outside of Dubuque, IA.  Violet was kind enough to call and see if we could come visit the farm on our way home.  And sure enough, they had a space for us.  Actually, Brenna gave up her bed so we could stay, and we got in late since we didn’t leave Fargo until almost one and there are no useful interstates in the area, (South Bend and Highway 31, anyone?) and the roosters are apparently on Mountain Time, as they started crowing at four in the morning.  But the people of the farm (do I call them Farmers?  Workers?) were so hospitable, even though only Brenna knew us from Adam, and she barely so.  Craig was feeling down and out by the morning (he didn’t sleep well) and we were offered another night, should we need it.  We have several good farm stories now, and Craig is ready to move immediately, and, as usual, we had good food and good conversation and left feeling welcomed and rested (Craig napped through lunch).

So finally we went back through St. Louis, and stayed at a hotel, because even though Nate and Angela had offered us another night at their house, they were getting back from their road trip that same day, and Craig had come down with a cold, and our humility had about run out, so we decided not to impose anymore.  And even the lady working at the hotel offered us milk as we were checking in for the tired and grumpy (read: screaming) girls.

Thus the pile of thank-you notes I have to get started on.  We have a new standard of hospitality to live up to.  We were well cared for on a long trip, one we could not have afforded to make without the generosity of friends and strangers.  And I think the best part was, if we had stayed by ourselves in hotels all those nights, trying to get the girls bathed and to bed on time, sleeping until we had to get ready to go, watching TV because there isn’t a whole lot else for a three-year-old to do in a hotel room, we would have missed so much.  We would have missed catching up with old friends, we would have missed making new friends and learning a wide variety of new things.  The girls would have missed playgrounds, frozen custard, and farm animals, just for starters.  I wouldn’t have so many letters to write, which I actually can’t wait to start.  Connections we had to people in other places which were tenuous, if they even existed, are stronger now.  Our like-minded community, which we keep trying to build a little here and there as we go, has grown tremendously.  It might just have been worth the 3,200 miles in the car.

Poor Step-mother! or, Why we don’t watch much TV these days

We were visiting at Chris’s mom’s house while he and Kelly were in town, and sitting down to white beans and rice with the three of them and Granny, when Lucy raced into the room.

Lucy: “The step-mother is here!”

I start to ask one of those motherly questions which draws out the story behind her pretending, but before I can form the words…

Lucy: “I’m going to kill her!”

And she was gone again.  I turned red, shocked, and sent Craig to deal with this.  He deals with football players and wrestlers and marine-wanna-bes on a daily basis, after all.  Apparently Lucy was protecting her friend, Meadow, from the step-mother, who was going to hurt her.

Thanks, Disney.  Non-violent child-rearing takes another set-back.  Craig tried to explain, and suggest that she convert the step-mother, but I’m not sure that it sunk in.

Related, or not, Lucy spent a good half hour crying because she didn’t want to take a nap today, which she hasn’t done in months.

Tomorrow – the journey to Fargo begins.  Pray for us.

On Waiting

“The main barrier standing between ourselves and a local-food culture is not price, but attitude.  The most difficult requirements are patience and a pinch of restraint–virtues that are hardly the property of the wealthy.  These virtues seem to find precious little shelter, in fact, in any modern quarter of this nation founded by Puritans.  Furthermore, we apply them selectively:  browbeating our teenagers with the message that they should wait for sex, for example.  Only if the wait to experience intercourse under the ideal circumstances (the story goes), will they know its true value.  ‘Blah blah blah,‘ hears the teenager: words issuing from a mouth that can’t even wait for the right time to eat tomatoes, but instead consumes tasteless ones all winter to satisfy a craving for everything now.  We’re raising our children on the definition of promiscuity if we feed them a casual, indiscriminate mingling of foods from every season plucked from the supermarket, ignoring how our sustenance is cheapened by whole sale desires.”

-Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Thanks for the book, Fr. R.B.!

I think she has a point, don’t you?  What do we wait for anymore?  Not information, there’s the internet.  Not food, there are microwaves.  Not TV shows, even: we have DVR.  Not letters, a phone call is quicker.  Not babies, their ‘delivery’ is scheduled for our convenience or our doctor’s.  There does seem to be a pattern.