Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Mouse Named George

Once upon a time, there was a beautiful princess and she lived in a beautiful castle. There were many gardens and greenhouses in the castle. There were many courts and they had gardens in them too.

Once when she was enjoying these gardens immensely, a dragonfly flew into her garden. The dragonfly said to her,

“Good day, Princess.”

“What a strange dragonfly you are, that can speak!”

“But Princess, but Princess!” said the dragonfly.

“What is it, dragonfly?” said the princess.

“A big terrible troll is coming this way! There were tales for ages and ages that a troll would come some day. And I’m afraid now it will come true. It has come true!” said the dragonfly.

And soon the princess heard the tromp, tromp of immense boots.

“There it is! There it is!” said the dragonfly.

And before the princess knew what was happening the roof of the greenhouse was being taken off and she was in a very ugly hand. With fear, she fainted and the next thing she knew she was lying in a damp cave.

Meanwhile, in the princess’ kingdom, the dragonfly had warned the king what had happened to his daughter. The king sent out his soldiers to put up posters promising anyone who could find his daughter riches beyond his wildest dreams.

Meanwhile, in a small hole by the side of the road, a small mouse had just woken up from a nap. He lazily crawled out of his hole and looked astonished at a poster that had definitely not been there the day before. It read:

Any man who can find the princess, my daughter, will be given money, a good place to sleep and great favors from me. Any man, any man at all, I don’t care what man, I don’t care if it is a witch, anyone at all who can bring back my daughter.

The mouse asked his best friend the dragonfly why there were posters everywhere saying the same thing. The dragonfly explained the whole thing, for it was the same dragonfly who had flown into the princesses greenhouse.

“Well, George,” said the dragonfly, for the mouse’s name was George.

“I can tell you the exact place of the troll’s cave, if you promise to give me half the money you win, if you win it.”

The mouse said it was a deal.

The dragonfly told him the place which was miles upon miles away. But all these miles he traveled were miles of smiles because he couldn’t help thinking of all the money he would win when he rescued the princess.

He finally got to an immense cave after days and days of traveling. He knocked on the door but there was no reply. He knocked as hard as he could but hardly any noise came from the knocking.

I am a very small mouse, he said to himself. Not knowing what to do, he sat down in the mud despairingly. But then he saw a bit of vine hanging down from a tree. And then he saw some sticks lying about and a few pebbles. That gave him an idea. He nibbled off a bit of the vine, picked up a pebble and a stick and tied them together with the pebble in the center. He put it down and tested it. It worked remarkably and rocked back and forth for the pebble was very round.

He then balanced another larger pebble on one end of the stick. He positioned the catapult so that the pebble would shoot directly towards the door. Then he jumped on the other end of the stick. The pebble flew into the air and glanced off the door with a loud bump!

Now all I have to do is wait, said George to himself. And sure enough, very soon, he heard the tramping of big boots. A very, very ugly face popped out of the door.

The troll looked about and was about to close the door, not seeing anybody, when the mouse suddenly cried out as loud as he could:

“Excuse me, troll! Would you please let me in? I would like to challenge you to a battle.”

“Alright! Come in! We shall have the battle tomorrow.”

But please pause this story right now for I think I must tell you a little something about the troll. You see, when the troll popped his face out the door, it wasn’t just once face, it was many faces. For it was a many-faced troll. He had about a dozen faces. Each face wore a different expression. He never slept or at least he never closed all his faces’ eyes at the same time. You see, while he slept, his faces took turns opening their eyes and keeping watch.

The next day when they had their battle, all throughout the night, the mouse had been devising a plan. He had three sacks, each full of different things. The first sack was full of pepper. The second sack was full of salt and the third sack had a roasted chicken in it.

George came out onto the field carrying the first sack. The pepper made all the troll’s faces sneeze a great deal. Then he went back in, put the first sack down and took out the second sack.

He brought it out onto the field and the salt made all the troll’s faces cough a great deal. Then he went back in and put down sack number two and picked up sack number three.

He brought it out onto the field. The smell of the chicken made all of the troll’s mouths water a great deal. The troll couldn’t fight but just fell down with hunger. For his weakness was anything that made him sneeze and the hunger just made him collapse. He died right there on the battlefield.

Now the beautiful princess was saved from the cave. She came back with George and gave him a mouse-sized version of the castle and riches beyond his wildest dreams, as the posters had said. Of course, he gave half of his riches to the dragonfly, as was the deal.

And they all lived happily ever after.

The End

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Weekly Report 9/26/10-9/10/1/10

Because I can't walk and chew gum at the same time, we took off from academics on Monday and ran errands instead! Actually Josh and Will did their usual stuff, but Sean and Becky got the day off. I had promised my college-aged daughter a care package two weeks ago and had never gotten to the post office to mail it. Why is it that things other people seem to do effortlessly takes me soooo long??? We also went to Target to buy Halloween decorations. It turns out we are hosting our neighborhood Halloween party. Becky has big plans for decorating our front yard and I wanted to buy the stuff before it sold out. We also did more unsuccessful shopping for art supplies for Sean and Becky's art class. Strike number 2. I really should order this stuff on line, though the teacher said that was too expensive and assured me I'd be able to find the supplies at Michael's or Target. Lies! All lies!

We did buy a fun kit of paper bag Halloween puppets that Becky promptly made:

Monday was also a big day because Becky attended her first American Heritage Girls meeting.

They learned songs to sing when they visit nursing homes. Becky enjoyed herself immensely (as she would say!).

Tuesday - was chaotic! Josh and I did got to our Latin class, but Becky stayed home claiming she had an earache and Sean, who is not especially enamoured with the art class, stayed home too. Becky really did seem sick and I was all set to deal with a nasty ear infection, but she was greatly recovered by the next day and by the next evening seemed completely recovered. I am thinking she might have allergies and the rainy weather was doing funny things to her???? Does that make sense? My kids do tend to get these short lived (Thank God!) illnesses. Josh went to his Biology field trip, a river study. It stopped raining and the weather was beautiful for a few hours just in time for it!

I blogged about what I did Tuesday afternoon. Tuesday evening we had our first 4H meeting. Tuesday was a long day!

Wednesday - I actually did some lessons with Becky and Sean; the usual suspects: math, Latin and cursive. Will announced that he had finished reading (actually he's been listening on audio) the Penteteuch, so that completes his own self-styled study of the first 5 books of the Bible. He also finished reading The Phantom Tollbooth to Becky. I have the best 18 yo son in the world!

Becky wrote a story! She dictated it to me. Here it is. Wednesday is also our day for Vision Therapy in the afternoon and CLC (Catholic Teen group) in the evening for Josh. Also, I went and checked out our homeschool support groups new meeting place at a nearby church. Looks good! I finished reading Little Women to Becky and started on Little Men. We are having such fun with these books! Sean finally finished The Treasure Seekers and is now starting on A Series of Unfortunate Events. Josh has started reading the Dune series which I've never read but Rick loved back in high school. I wonder if it has anything objectionable in it. Rick never remembers that kind of stuff! Rick also started reading King's Solomon's Mine out loud to Sean.

Thursday - I had forgotten to have angel food cake for dessert on 9/29 in honor of Michaelmas or the Feast of the Archangels. So instead we had it for breakfast on 9/30.

Thursday we also read about St. Jerome from one of my favorite books. I've been reading this aloud to kids every year on his feast day for a while now. It's become a tradition.

Here's a final photo of Sean working on his Latin and Becky showing off an angel puppet she made while I was reading to her.

Today is Friday. If the weather clears enough, we'll have tennis this afternoon. Josh has his second Biology class this a.m. Hopefully I'll get some lessons in with Becky and Sean too.

Finally, Will has been practicing Eric Satie's Gnosseinne No. 1. (This video isn't Will playing it, I just found it on youtube) but this delicate, evocative melody has been floating around the house all week and seems to go well with the rainy weather and the dark clouds.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

I saw Don Bosco!

I went to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (I know that is a mouthful!). It is one of my favorite places on earth. It is in Washington D.C. right next to the Catholic University of America. I believe it is the largest church in North America.

Today they had the relic of St. John Bosco displayed for veneration. St. John Bosco is an incorruptible. That means that, miraculously, his corpse didn't decay. Here's a link to info about him.

I wanted to take my kids with me. But Becky woke up with an earache and the day was already very complicated with driving Josh to and fro to classes. At one point Will was supposed to go pick up Josh from a science field study but if I took Sean with me then Becky would be left alone for a while and I just wasn't comfortable with that. So I decided that I really, really wanted to venerate St. Don Bosco, so I was going. So I left the kids behind. I was very sad about that. There were lots of kids there and it really made me wish my kids were there with me too. At least the two youngest ones! The church was filled with reverent silence and there were many people lined up on either side of the casket, praying. I got there when the line was relatively short. I got up to the casket took one look and started crying. I tried to take a picture but felt shy about it. So I just hurriedly snapped this one.

After that I went and sat down and tried to get myself together (fished in my purse for kleenex!) and tried to calm down and pray a bit. I prayed a very heartfelt prayer for St. John Bosco to intercede for me. I want so much to emulate him in his devotion, compassion, patience and joyful energy! I said the little prayer they gave us on entering the Basilica:

St. John Bosco, full of confidence I turn to you, asking you to intercede for me. Help me to lead a good and happy life. May I always be a help to others, avoid sin and die a happy death. Bring down the blessings of God on all those in my thoughts and prayers now, and obtain for me the special graces which I now ask. . . . I trust in God's love and mercy to grant what God knows is best for me. Don Bosco, who on earth had such a great devotion to Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and to Mary, Help of Christians, and who always had compassion for those who were suffering, obtain from Jesus and His Heavenly Mother the grace I now request and also a sincere acceptance to the Will of God. Amen. St. John Bosco, Father and Teacher of the young, pray for us. Recite the Our Father, the Hail Mary and the Glory Be.

I walked around the beautiful church but still felt shy about taking pictures when so much praying was going on! I did take a shot of the little shrine to Mary Help of Christians

After that I went to the bookstore. I am sucker for bookstores! There was a Salesian priest in there wearing one of the very cool t-shirts I had seen the Basilica staff wearing. I asked him if they were for sale but he said he didn't know but that I could call the Salesian office and find out.

I didn't stay very long in the bookstore because I really felt I ought to be getting home to my sick child who'd I'd barely seen all day and also I wanted to avoid rush hour. So I ran back up to the sanctuary to bid St. John Bosco goodbye. The line had shortened again so I went up again to the casket. This time I took this photo:
It was a very moving experience. The incorruptibles just freak me out. In a good way!

Anyway, beloved John Bosco, thank you for your devotion to God and for being such a holy role model. Your heart was full of Christ's love for sinners. Pray for us!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

My First Weekly Photo Journal

Here's Sean working on his music. He's learning to play the guitar. This week he got a new keyboard that plugs directly into the computer. He loves to write music and mix tracks. He and his friend Jack are working together. Jack is designing a video game and Sean is writing all the music.

Here are the books Sean is working in right now. We only do the history and science once a week but the math, handwriting and Latin are pretty much 4 or 5 times a week. Religion (the red book) is done about 2 or 3 times a week.

I'm writing about Sean first because he's the one who is teaching me how to post photos to my blog!
Here's miz Becky-boo using beads to help her do her Saxon math.
Here are the books we've been using for Becky. The only book you probably can't make out is an old, 1896 edition of James Baldwin's 50 Famous Stories Retold. I am a sucker for antique books. The McGuffey Reader dates from 1919. Wild Animals I Have Known is from 1961. That isn't antique because I was one year old at the time!
Becky is a hands on kind of gal. She likes to bake cookies.
She likes to make up her own arts and crafts projects. This one has a Halloween theme as you can tell. She LOVES Halloween!

She also had a lot of fun playing with pattern blocks this week. (I have no idea why the font keeps switching back and forth!)

Here's a picture Becky drew while I was reading out loud to her.

Here is my cool and groovy 18 year old son, Will, also known as Eli. I believe he was playing Daytripper by the Beatles in this shot.

Here he is playing the piano.
Here he is again, sitting on our screen porch working on his College Plus stuff.

But I can't forget my 15 year old, Josh. He is a quiet introvert, and the middle boy, so he often inadvertently gets overlooked, but he is so good natured, he doesn't care! Anyway, he's a great kid. He so introverted though, he likes to hide behind his hat. I am not kidding or exaggerating either!
He always wears this hat.

Well, surprisingly he isn't wearing it in this photo. He's working on history here.

Here's a photo of his Algebra II test. For some reason it came out sideways. I am novice at all this tech stuff. Really, I have no idea what I am doing!

Anyway, my last photo with be of the credits Sean-o, the 11 yo did for a little DVD he put together. As you can see he needs to work on spelling and capitalization!

I took this picture off the TV. Ron Stevenson is beloved bear puppet that practically an imaginary friend to Becky and Sean, only he's a puppet they love to play with. He's kind of the sixth child in the family! Bill Merry really is supposed to be Murray. Robben is supposed to be Robin.

That's all, folks!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week in Review 9/13-9/17

I actually tried to keep a daily journal. It helps me see what's going on each week. I forget so much if I don't jot down everything soon after the fact.

We are still on our readjustment curve even though we are three weeks into being more formal with lessons. We've gradually been folding in more studies. Also, the boys keep modifying their schedules. They are finding that doing their 5 arts in the morning and leaving the academics their mother (c'est moi!) insists on their doing means they have to deal with trying to finish math and Latin while afternoon activities are going on or in the evening when they really aren't in the mood. I'm letting them come to the conclusion that perhaps it would be better to get the academic stuff over with in the morning and do the fun arts stuff in their free time or in the evening. And it's working! Slowly, and on their own, they are drawing that conclusion.

We are going through math very slowly. We are just up to Lesson 5 in Saxon 5/4. Concentrating has been excruciating and much occasion for out and out defiance. But between being firm (you may do your math or you may sit on your bed) and cajoling (How about after we spend 10 minutes on this, we make cookies?) we've started to get into the groove. She's also doing her WWE and getting more into the groove with that as well. We worked in some cursive penmanship and a little bit of phonics. She read some comics this week from her Magnifikid magazine as well as some Peanuts comics at night. We read about Jonah and about the prophet Amos, learned about the feast of the Holy Cross. We also learned some acronyms like INRE and J.M.J. and AMDG and what they mean. We learned about subject nouns and verbs and some Latin words in Getting Started with Latin. We read another story about King Alfred the Great. She attended her first art class Tuesday morning which she loved. She went to vision therapy on Wed pm Today, Friday, tennis lessons start up. We also are still enjoying Little Women as a read aloud.

Has settled down a little quicker than Becky. He's on Lesson 9 of Saxon 7/6. We are doing our chapter review for Ch. 19,20.21,22 of LfCa. He's been working on his penmanship. He's still reading The Treasure Seekers. He's been doing lots of art and music with Will. He taught himself to play When the Saints Go Marching In on the penny whistle! He also had his first art class, but since he is such an opinionated curmudgeon he didn't enjoy it as much as Becky. We watched Unit 3 of Discovering Music. I don't know how much he's getting out of it, but Will and I are sure enjoying it! Today he still needs to do Vocabulary and Science before tennis class.

Josh did several lessons and a test in Alg II. Not sure exactly where he is in it. We had our Latin class on Tuesday. We'll need to start doing homework over the weekend. How did the week go by so quickly???? He spends a lot of time on Biology both in class and out. Today he's got his first Bio test. He was up until 1:30 a.m. studying for it because he waited too long to begin. He doesn't seem to be getting how time consuming this is so he doesn't allot enough time. Hopefully, this too is a learning curve and he'll get better at estimating such things. We started up history and literature. He read the first book of St. Augustine's Confessions and the first lesson of The History of the Church. He answered the workbook questions. He still needs to write an essay. This will also have to happen over this weekend. He had his 6 month post surgery check up and he's cleared to play tennis! Hurrah!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Daily Journal 9/16/10

  • Boys went to Mass
  • Boys worked on writing for 30 minutes, still not sure exactly what they are doing when they say they are working on writing! Then Sean worked on animation, Josh on game design, Will on music
  • Becky - worked through mix practice of L 4 in Saxon(never got to it yesterday), read a little from her new Magnifikid mag (she read the comic to me and then we went through first section of Mass and read the OT reading and discussed it.)
  • Read story of King Alfred and the Beggar.
  • Did WWE - read passage from Charlotte's Web; she answered narration questions in complete sentences, then dictated to me the thing she remember the most, then she copied over that sentence.
  • Did Latin, reviewed vocab of nauta, sum, ego, argricola, et and also saying cogito ergo sum. Learned 'non'. Also reviewed what a subject noun is and what a verb is.
  • Took Will to metro to go to DC and his piano lesson - then picked him up 3 hours later.
  • Came home and took Josh to his 6 mo post surgery check up. Looks good! Cleared to play tennis tomorrow!
  • Josh and I read Book 1 of St. Augustine's Confessions.
  • Josh did first lesson in History of the Church
  • Sean - practiced some cursive, read ch 2 of his F&L book and also worked on memorizing those 10 Commandments some more.
  • Sean did 1/2 of Lesson 8 in Saxon 7/6.
  • Sean studied Latin vocabulary for a 4 ch. review, and I quizzed him orally.
  • Josh has LOTS of biology homework to do which he didn't start until 7:45 p.m. I think he'll be up working until 11 or so.
  • Read Becky a couple of chapters of Little Women. Beth is dying, Amy and Laurie have met up in Europe. Becky really didn't get a lot of it, so I had to keep stopping and explaining things to her. I am amazed that she is so into the book because a lot is going over her head.
  • Sean is supposed to read more Treasure Seekers before bed but it is 9:45 p.m. and I can hear him and Becky playing instead of reading!

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Daily Journal 9/14/10

  • another terrible sleeping night, for me and for Miss Becky boo.
  • got up, studied for Latin quiz, Josh got up early too, to study.
  • Made breakfast sandwiches, got everyone up.
  • Took Becky and Sean to their first art class. Sean has philosophical differences with the teacher on technique! I hope he wasn't difficult. I do wish he could learn the virtue of docility! Becky LOVED the class.
  • Josh and I got to the class late. Had to take the quiz in a rushed fashion. Neither of us did very well as a result. But it wasn't graded! I think the teacher was just using it to force us ot review and jog our memories.
  • After Latin class, took Josh to Biology. He studied for that quiz in the car on the way there.
  • Got home and worked on math with Sean and Becky.
  • Will had been working on his speed reading course which he is finding very interesting but basically thinks it is a crock!
  • Becky and Sean rode their bikes to the veg. stand and bought pears.
  • Picked up Josh from class. He'd won 4 little rubbery fake skeletons for something! He gave them to Becky and Sean who loved them.
  • Josh worked on math both before and after dinner.
  • After dinner, Becky and Sean both worked on Latin and penmanship.
  • Becky made us her version of apple cobbler.
  • Sean read a ch. in The Treasure Seekers
  • Watched next unit in Discovering Music - all about musical terms.
  • Read most of a chapter out of Little Women to Becky. Jo is in NY and fascinated with Professor Bhaer.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Daily Journal 9/13/10

  • Everybody either stayed up way too late last night or couldn't sleep. As a result everybody except my poor husband who HAD to get up even though he was so tired, overslept.
  • Sean and Becky went bike riding for 1/2 hour before we tried to begin any academics.
  • Sean and Will worked on writing, drawing and acting.
  • Josh worked on Biology homework
  • Becky - read her the story of Jonah, she did a tiny bit of cursive, did her WWE
  • Had all kinds of distractions with pest control guys and cleaners in and out of the house.
  • In afternoon Josh and I did Latin homework
  • After dinner, Sean did a bit of math, Latin and cursive
  • Becky did L. 5 mixed practice, a little bit of Latin and cursive
  • Becky and Sean went on another bike ride over the the veggie stand; had fun.
  • Becky and Sean made chicken nuggets with the chicken I cooked for dinner.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Daily Journal 9/9/10

  • Boys went to Mass
  • Did 5 arts - acting (S- worked on memorizing The Orange, J- The Jabberwocky, W- Ecclesiastes). music, writing.
Becky was in an ornery mood this a.m.

  • Read about St. Peter Claver; today is his feast day. She was okay with that, sometimes being interested, sometimes feigning boredom.
  • She did a tiny bit of cursive work while listening
  • She wanted me to read her about Lobo from Wild Animals I Have Known. She's really started to enjoy the book. Just goes to show you have to give some things time.
  • After much dawdling and resistance (including stopping to trim her bangs which suddenly prevented her from doing copy work!) she printed out a very short sentence from WWE. (Charlotte's Web).
  • She also wanted to do Map Skills except she didn't want to write herself. So we compromised. She had to spell to me the names of all the oceans and I did the writing. Then we learned the difference between what a sea, a bay and gulf. Not quite clearcut if you ask me.
  • She decided she does not want to read from McGuffey's 2nd reader but wants to try the 3rd. So we started on the 3rd reader, reading two stanzas of a long poem. At this rate it will take two weeks to get through the first lesson.
  • Did math with Sean - corrected his mistakes and did mental math and practice set for L. 5.
  • Took Josh to his math tutor
  • Came home, collapse and read King Solomon's Mines (which I stole from Sean) and napped.
  • Josh went to library with Sean and Becky, Will and I went and got haircuts.
  • Didn't get any math done with Becky or Latin and penmanship done with Sean.
  • Josh did Biology homework
  • Sean read more The Treasure Seekers.
  • Read more Little Women to Becky.
  • Becky got the audio of Mrs. Piggle Wiggle out of the library plus several Baby Mouse graphic novels. She sequestered herself up in her room to enjoy those.
  • Josh finished reading the second book in Discworld at some point during the day. He got a ton of a new graphic novel series (don't know the name) and was reading them like they were potato chips.
  • Will started doing his CLEP prep course with College Plus (listening to audio cds on study skills, etc? Sounds boring!). He finished reading the Book of Numbers (Bible). How was it, I asked. Numerical, he replied! He is now listening to the Lord of the Rings.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Daily Journal 9/8/10 - Nativity of the Blessed Virgin/Rosh Hashana

  • Boys went to Mass
  • Did their 5 Arts in the a.m.
I worked with Becky:
  • Read more about Old Lobo in Wild Animals I have Known
  • Becky did a tiny bit of cursive practice
  • Read story about the Prophet Elisha or Eliseus as Bible History insists on calling him! Becky narrated well about Namaan, etc.
  • Becky and I practiced learning the hymn Holy God, We Praise Thy Name. Becky has such a good voice!
  • Did practice set for Lesson 3 in Saxon 5/4. Number Sequences
  • Did narration and copywork from WWE, Week 8. Caddy Woodlawn.
  • Reviewed a tiny bit of Latin and learned about what a subject of a sentence is.
  • Becky is all excited to sell T-shirts at the Blessed Virgin Mary's Birthday party which is always the opening event for our homeschool group. She's making a sign that says $5 per T-shirt and then drawing pictures of the t-shirts on the poster.
  • Went to BVM's Birthday and collected dues, etc. Had a good time. A sweet girl led us in a decade of the rosary and then the kids all sang happy birthday. Becky had great time selling those T-shirts!
  • Meanwhile, at home Sean finished his math lesson and then talked on line with his friend.
  • Josh did a lesson in Algebra II
  • Found out Hannah is getting severe flooding at Univ. of Dallas from Hermine.
  • Will went to his music lesson
  • VT appt for Becky @ 5:30.
After dinner:
  • Did 20 minutes of Latin with Sean - reviewed 1st and 2nd delcensions, parsed some sentences, talked about parts of speech.
  • Took Josh to CLC
  • Sean read more The Treasure Seekers
  • Becky read two paragraphs from McGuffey's. Then I read a ch. and 1/2 of Little Women to her.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Daily Journal 9/7/10

I am going to continue to journal daily until I feel we've gotten into a good groove for the autumn.

Yesterday, Labor Day, we didn't do much formally.

I did have Sean read another chapter of The Treasure Seekers and he, Will and I all watched the next unit of Discovering Music together in the evening.

Informally Sean spent lots of time creating music with garage band.

Josh, starting at about 8:15 p.m. did his Biology homework. He was still working on it at around 10 p.m. when I went to bed. But he said he only had a little bit left to do.

Today - Tuesday, 9/7/10

Josh and I had our first Latin class of the year. We reviewed conjugations and declensions. My rusty old brain was barely keeping up! Lots of homework to do for next class.

I then took Josh to his Biology field trip. They did a pond study at Riverbend. Josh says he enjoyed it.

Will was stuck at home with Becky and Sean, neither of whom behaved very well, as far as I can see. Sean read the first chapter in his Faith and Life book and started to memorize the 10 Commandments. He very halfheartedly started his math but hadn't gotten far (and got the first problem wrong anyway)by the time I got home at nearly 1 p.m.

Becky did a page of phonics but resisted doing math. She did a little for me when I got home.

This Tuesday was weird. Next Tuesday both Sean and Becky will be in an art class in the a.m. while Josh and I are at Latin. Will's on his own. I told him he needs to work somewhere on Tuesdays.

In the evening:

Read Becky another chapter of Little Women

Did 20 minutes of Latin review with Sean

Sean read another chapter of The Treasure Seekers

Josh finished an Alg. II test

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Last night I went to Vespers at a very nearby Melkite church. I had been meaning to go to this church for years and years now. And last night I finally made it. I feel like I fell in love. I am now filled with longing to be in THAT church, that liturgy, that community. I'm trying to sort out my feelings:

  • The first time I ever heard about the Melkites, I was attending a retreat given by Father Emmanuel Charles McCarthy at a Pax Christi retreat. I could only stay for a day. He was a very powerful speaker. The thing that impressed me the most was his story about how his youngest daughter, Benedicta, named after Edith Stein or Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross was miraculously saved by Tylenol poisoning by prayers to Edith Stein. This is the miracle that allowed St. Teresa Benedicta to be named a saint. I have a special tenderness for St. Edith Stein, since she was Jewish and converted to Catholicism by reading a book by St. Theresa of Avila. My husband is Jewish. I've struggled with atheism (as did Edith Stein) and my mother's favorite saint was St. Teresa of Avila. So all this resonated in my heart. Hannah even took the name St. Teresa Benedicta of the Cross for her confirmation name. Since that retreat (and this retreat happened when Hannah was a baby, so probably about 18 years ago) I 've been wanting to visit a Melkite Church. Well, there is one about 5 minutes from my house. It only took me 18 years to get there!
  • I love the rich ritual, the ikons, the chanting, the ancient and profound reverence found in the church and its liturgy. So different from the dry, stripped down version of my parish church. Not that my parish doesn't try and isn't full of faithful people and a wonderful pastor, but it is not poetic, lyrical, moving, replete with so many symbols that raise one's spirit to God. I know I am not supposed to be entertained at Mass, that it depends on me and what I bring to the Mass, but in other liturgies the sheer beauty of the liturgy definitely helps one's soul long for union with God! Why do these other liturgies get to have this beauty, while I in my weakness must struggle against such spiritual dryness?
  • I have long been attracted to Orthodox Christianity but feel like I am being a traitor to the Roman Catholic faith. This is probably an unreasonable feeling. In the Melkite church both Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christian can partake of the Eucharist there.
  • I was very attracted to the Byzantine Catholic faith, however, they are all of a Slavic ethnicity. The liturgy was beautiful but the history and language are not my history and language. The Melkite however trace their origin to Antioch and to the first apostles. They are descended from the very first Christian tradition! They use both Greek and Arabic. The Arabic came later. But the Greek spoken by that first Christian community is the Koine Greek that the New Testament is written in. This makes me feel a connection even though Greek is not my native language. Also the Arabic is a Semitic language, similar to Hebrew.
  • I love that the Melkites really emphasize the Old Testament and the Prophets. These prophets are placed on the same plain with the saints of the New Testament. The connection to Judaism is much more palatable. The sound of the chants has a very Jewish sound. This speaks to me because of Rick's Judaism, our family celebrating Jewish holidays and also I love that that connection, that foundation of Judaism has been preserved for two thousand years in such a tangible way.
The problems I see in moving into the Melkite rite are many:

1. My family. Becky and Sean are not confirmed. Would they be able to receive the Eucharist there? I wonder if the priest confirms children coming from the Roman rite?
2. Do they follow the same liturgical year? I think so. But that would be really confusing if they didn't.
3. I think the Melkites are much stricter in fasting and other things like that. It would probably be good for us as a change. It is so easy to be lazy in the Roman rite.
4. Sunday school - this may not be a problem. But the Sunday school classes look much, much better than the one's offered at our parish which are of the most watered down variety. The kids really learn deeply about the faith. I've been looking at lesson plans and the expectations are much higher at Holy Transfiguration then at St. Mark. You expected to really read the Bible. Parents are held accountable. I was amazed at what was expected of a 4th grader to know and do.
5. Josh and CLC. We do love the Catholic Life Community at St. Mark and the Youth Group activites, like Workcamp. I don't know if we'd have to give those up though.
6. I'd feel like I was betraying our parish. I do have a sense of loyalty to it. I love that it works so hard to help the poor. I love Father Pat; for all his faults, he is a wonderful, godly man who tries his best.

While I sort through all this I thought I'd incorporate some Melkite lessons plans into our daily living. Here's a resource for that

Friday, September 3, 2010

The Boys Schedule

This is the schedule we've come up with that incorporates the boys' goals. This is just a general guide.

8:45 a.m. be ready to leave for Mass
9:00 a.m. Mass
9:45 home again and breakfast
10:15-10:45 Acting (memorization, recitation)
10:45 - 11:15 Creative Writing
11:15 - 11:45 Music (mostly ear training and sight reading)
11:45 - 12:15 Drawing

Break for lunch (either an hour or 1/2 depending on how well things went in the a.m.)

After lunch - Sit down work (for Sean this means math and penmanship)
2:30 digital arts for 30 minutes and then focus on each boy's particular art form; Will - music, Josh - game design, Sean - animation

4:00 p.m. Free time - which needs to include physical exercise and hopefully playing outside

7:00 dinner
7:30 No screen! Boys work on schoolwork. For Sean this means Monday - history, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday - Latin and Religion. Also 30 minutes of reading every night after dinner. Dad's read aloud, prayers.
10:00 p.m. Bedtime for Sean. 11:00 for Josh

Will and Josh are going to follow this as closely as they can, but they have other external factors that will change the schedule for them. Josh especially needs to focus on his classes and won't be able to spend mornings working on the 5 arts. I really predict he'll break away from this whole scheme just out of necessity.

Also Fridays will be different. Josh will be in his Biology class and it is a half day for us all. I want to cover Vocabulary, Grammar and Science on those mornings with Sean.

(I haven't forgotten about Becky, but since I am just working with her one on one, we get started together @ 10:15 a.m. and we are finished by lunchtime with time to spare!)

Weekly Report 8/30-9/3

I've actually been keeping daily journals each day. That helps me get things clear in my mind about how we are proceeding. So this is just a summing up of what went on and what we need to work on for next week. Mostly it's about attitude!

Becky - on the whole she's been rather fidgety this week. However, she certainly loves Map Skills. She even got her book out to show her dad when he got home from work last night. I am enjoying the read alouds with, especially Little Women. It is fun to snuggle on the couch and do our studies that way. It is a great lesson in patience for me, to learn to humor and cajole her through the lessons she doesn't like as well. You'd think I'd have learned to be patient by now with all these years of homeschooling. I do think I am somewhat more patient but still have a ways to go! Mostly I bottle up my frustration and vent here.

Sean - even though Sean adores Will, he was giving him the same flack he gives me all the time whenever I try to force lessons on him. Even though this was all stuff that he and Will agreed to and which they love to do!!! Sean really is at the mercy of his moods. I hope he learns to temper them more. He's so extreme, he either obsesses over something or he can't simply can't focus on it. You can talk til you are blue in the face to him and he doesn't retain a bit! He really needs to try to make an effort to focus himself on things that aren't currently all-absorbing to him. He did some math this week and some cursive penmanship. Today I had him work in his vocabulary book and also listen to me read the first science unit on plants. He needs to work on neatness too. He makes math errors because he writes so sloppily. It is evidence of his lack of care. Again, I need to be patient with him, explain again and again why certain things are important for him to learn and why I insist on them. At the same time, I try to respect him and his unique free spiritedness. Balance is what is needed!

Josh -has been staying up too late each night and is having trouble curtailing his computer time. In fact last night he snuck back downstairs at midnight to get on the computer. Big no no!

What has been wonderful is the boys going to mass each morning. They didn't make it this morning because 1) Josh needed to study for his Bio quiz (he didn't allow enough time to get done last night) and 2) I think Will has also been staying up late and by the time this a.m. rolled around he just needed to sleep more! But also I love that they are doing so much on their own initiative. They are good boys.

Friday - this a.m.

Will slept in.
Josh got up and studied for his Bio quiz then I took him to class.
Sean worked in his vocabulary book, listened to a lesson in Science
Becky - read the first story from 50 Famous Stories Retold about King Alfred. Read next ch. of Little Women, she also listened in on science lesson.

Had a meeting with Will and Sean about our schedule for next week. We are trying to work out what works best for everybody's interests.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Daily Journal 9/2/10

Boys went to Mass again this a.m. I am jealous. I want to go too. Have to get Becky on board with this!


  • was being quite the hypochondriac this a.m. so she curled up on the couch with a blanket and we did things there.
  • I read part of the story of Elijah and Elisha from Bible History. The story was long, the language antiquated, and Becky grumpy, so we kept it short.
  • Read a couple of paragraphs from Wild Animals I have Known. She is not taking to this book so we might stop after this first story (which is rather long). She narrated back.
  • I don't know why I am having Becky do all this narration. She narrated more Great Brain and Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane to me this a.m. Plus a chapter or two of Ellen Tebbits by Beverly Cleary.
  • Becky wanted to do Map Skills so we did a page that had you study a map and then answer T or F to statements on it.
  • We reviewed very briefly our Latin up until now and learned the word Agricola. She already knew it and proceeded to tell me a snippet from the Penderwicks where one of the girls is studying Latin but hadn't gotten any farther than agricola, agricolae.
  • Did a couple of problems in Saxon Lesson 2 orally and then did the mental math from Lesson 3.
  • Did day 3 of Week 8 WWE1.
  • Becky perked up a bit after an early lunch. She did some verbal puns with me she had seen on For instance she wrote the word school on the top of a piece of paper and I had to figure out it meant 'high school.' She did several of those. They were fun and she was learning to spell the words.
  • Becky decided to draw. I had to tell her 3 things to draw and she would - she drew a tea kettle on a stove, a picnic under a tree, and a bedroom.
  • For some reason it was Josh and Sean who worked on the Ferris Wheel scene from the 3rd Man today. Don't know what happened to the Gettysburg Address for Josh.
  • Josh worked on math all morning, completing lesson 83 and taking test 20 in Alg II.
  • Sean worked on making things for his friend's birthday using an online 'painting' program.
  • Will worked with Sean doing Saxon L. 3
  • Josh went to his math tutor 1:15 to 2:15.
  • Sean spent more time on garage band and then spent time somehow creating a 'trading card' as a gift for his friend on the laptop. Don't quite understand it but he kept asking me how to spell things.
  • Sean did some penmanship
  • Will and I talked to the Collegeplus coach and order books for the CLEP tests.
  • Becky watched a of tv in the afternoon
  • Josh goofed off until after dinner when he started on his Biology homework (which is proving to be quite challenging).
  • Read Becky Chapters 14 and 15 of Little Women.
  • Had Sean read 30 minutes of The Treasure Seekers

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Daily Journal 9/1/10

  • Boys got up and went to Mass
  • Began lessons @ 10:15. Will and Sean continued to work on the Ferris Wheel scene from The Third Man. They even went into the study and watched a clip. Josh has decided to memorize the Gettysburg Address. I gave him Michael Clay Thompson's Lincoln's Ten Great Sentences book and he pretended to read it while snoozing on the couch!
  • Then they worked on ear training and then drawing.
  • We began her new cursive penmanship book. She did a matching game between capital manuscript letters and cursive letters. This took a long time because she kept wanting to chat and tell in great detail a game she and Sean had been playing on their bikes.
  • I decided to use the kitchen timer to keep us focusing a la CM.
  • Just as we were starting math, Hannah called. I hated to cut her off so Becky got an early break.
  • We did the mental math portion of Saxon 5/4 Less. 2, the practice set and then the first seven mixed practice problems before the timer went off.
  • Becky begged to do Map Skills. She loves it. She finished one page and then did another. Still practicing the scale concept. Map of Pennsylvania. We talked about the different cities. She knows of Phila. We talked about Pittsburgh where my Dad was from and other cities.
  • I read a passage from WWE, (Caddie Woodlawn - have to see if the library has it on audio) then Becky had to narrate back to me in complete sentences. Then she had to tell me the thing she remembered the most. She dictated it to me in a complete sentence and I wrote it out for her in cursive. Then she read it back to me. She enjoyed this.
  • We did a very brief review of the Latin lessons 1 thru 3 and then did Lesson 4. These are very, very brief lessons. Becky was not in the mood to cooperate.
  • Lastly, I read one long paragraph from Wild Animals I have Known and then made her narrate it back to me. She did pretty well. We were done before noon. If we hadn't had interruptions and if Becky hadn't been balking so, we'd have been done sooner!
  • She then joined the boys in their drawing practice though mostly to annoy them!
After lunch:
  • Josh made chocolate chip cookies! That's a first!
  • Sean did a math lesson and a little bit of cursive practice
  • Took Becky to VT
  • Sean and Becky have been having lots of fun today recording songs on garage band.
  • Josh worked on math
  • Will went to his first voice/sight reading/ear training lesson with his new teacher
  • Josh went to CLC
  • Becky insisted on telling me the whole story of The Great Brain in great detail. I rudely fell asleep on her. Terrible mother moment.
  • After dinner read Becky Ch. 13 in Little Women
  • Made Sean sit down and read The Treasure Seekers for 30 minutes.