Friday, September 30, 2011

Finer Things Friday - Family Resemblance

For Tigger's birthday this week I shared this picture of her on facebook:
Lots of people left her birthday messages, which I shared with her. Among the messages were the following comments.

One person, an old friend from our Tennessee days, said:
"Very cute, looks like her dad."

Another old friend from our growing up in Tennessee days said:
"She looks so much like you, Karen."

I love it. I love that two different people can look at the same little girl and see a parent reflected in her, because I think they're both right. (Another thing I love about this is that these comments were not from relatives trying to "claim" Tigger. These were disinterested parties who had never met Tigger in person nor seen Philip or me in at least seven years.)

One of the best things about parenting more than one child is getting to see some of the different ways their daddy's and my DNA combines to make {beautiful} children.
Philip made this picture comparison when Miss Lili came along:  so similar, so obviously related and yet so individual and perfect.

Family resemblance - it's a Finer Thing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Another Homeschool Year - Shakespeare Edition

Every education, yes, even homeschooling, has gaps. Gaps are those things you didn't learn, didn't have time to study, didn't want to study when you had the chance, etc. One of the reasons that I am biased in favor of homeschooling:
  1. The gaps are minimized. More time studying, less time standing in hallways or waiting for the other kids to figure out the subject.
  2. One of the goals of homeschooling is to raise children who love (and know how) to learn. Someone who picks up a book for pleasure is someone who can study whatever she wants.
All that to say, despite the fantastic job my parents did homeschooling me (ahem), I knew there were a few gaps.

One of those gaps I wanted to fill (as opposed to a gap I'm content to leave alone) was Shakespeare. Oh, sure, I knew who he was. I even "read" a few of the plays. I'm just not sure I got the point or got anything out of it.

Philip and I agreed that we would homeschool our children before we had any. (We're planners like that.) I knew there were certain things from my homeschool days that I wanted to use (like Saxon math) and certain things I didn't. (like anything with Paces, Lifepacs, etc.) In my study two books were very influential for me: The Well-Trained Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home by Susan Wise Bauer and A Charlotte Mason Companion: Personal Reflections on the Gentle Art of Learning by Karen Andreola. (I also read other books about the classical method and Charlotte Mason but these are the two that I bought to have on hand because I loved them so much and they just made sense to me.)

Despite my affection for the aforementioned books, I'm more of an eclectic type homeschooler, though I consult The Well Trained Mind to make my curriculum choices each year. (I say "consult" because I do not follow it to the letter). You could call my method "relaxed classical". (I didn't coin that expression. I first saw it here. For me it's something of a classical / Charlotte Mason combo but there are probably a few other streams running in there too.)

One of the things that really caught my eye was the idea that you didn't have to wait until highschool to learn about William Shakespeare. And you didn't have to start with the little paperbacks of the plays themselves.

Who knew?!

So we started when Polly was old enough to read along. This year Tigger joined in. Here's what it looks like for us:
1. We read the Bruce Coville picture book, if there is one.(There are at least seven of these gorgeous picture books. And if anyone is wondering what to get the girls for Christmas, we do not yet own any of these and we would love to. So, file that away for what it's worth.)

2. We read the appropriate chapter in Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare. (We own this book and we love it. There are many editions available and some of them on Amazon will only cost you a few cents.)

3. We read the appropriate selection from Nesbit's Beautiful Stories from Shakespeare for Children. We also own this book. The girls prefer this one although I prefer Lamb's. (Both are excellent.)

4. We might read the story from Garfield's Shakespeare Stories (there are two different collections of these). We check this one out of the library.

5. If one is available, we read the story from the Shakespeare Can Be Fun! series by Lois Burdett.

Sometimes I print off coloring sheets (there are some available here). Sometimes the girls listen to the Librivox version or an audio cd of the play. (We found the Lamb's Tales from Shakespeare on c.d. at our library as well as other Shakespeare resources.)

We do these things only about once a week. Which means we spend at least a month on one story. We started with A Midsummer Night's Dream this year. Tigger, who was reluctant at first, is now a fan. She can tell you all about the story. She had practice reading aloud (we three took turns) and she was inspired by the Shakespeare Can Be Fun book to illustrate some of the scenes.

Here's what we haven't done: we haven't watched a live play or one of the movie version of any play yet. We haven't tackled the plays themselves. I'll let you know how that goes when it happens. But I can tell you, once we get to that point I suspect these characters and plays will be old friends.

(I must give credit to Cindy at Ordo Amoris and also the blog Mental Multivitamin for sharing their families' Shakespeare journeys. I'd like to have minds like these women when I grow up.)

Do you "do" Shakespeare? What's your favorite?

(The images in this post are Amazon affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me. Opinions are, as always, my own.)

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Happy Birthday, Tigger!

Tigger was our first - and for six years only -September baby. Of course she was supposed to be an October baby. Instead she came four days early.

That's the one and only time Tigger has ever voluntarily been early for anything.

Our Tigger marches to the beat of her own drum.
Tigger is an orange belt now and she tells me she's almost ready to promote again. After a slightly rocky start in TKD, it's now one of her favorite things. She also learned to swim this summer. She went from being kind of afraid of the water to loving it. On Labor Day, when it was too cold for the rest of us, Tigger jumped right in and swam for awhile. Her favorite thing is to swim underwater. That's quite a change from a year ago!
She's the best little babysitter we have. She is patient, gentle and skillful with babies and little ones. She's super smart. And even though she tells us she doesn't like to read, we often find her curled up with Sweet Pea on her bed or on the couch reading away. I did a double take the other day because the feet poking out from behind the great big Greek Myths book were not Polly's. Tigger liked that book so well she read it twice in one day.
Tigger's grown up so much in the past year but one thing doesn't change: she'll always be my baby!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Thoughts

God reveals himself to the humble in small things – but the proud, who only attach importance to outward appearances, cannot see him even in the big ones. – Jean-Pierre de Caussade

1 Corinthians 1:25-31
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:
But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;
And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
That no flesh should glory in his presence.
But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Weekend Links - September 24, 2011


1. Salted caramel hot chocolate. Oh. My. Word.

2. I want this skirt. I'll freely admit I don't need it. But it is Adorable and I want it. 

3. Turns out the opinions we read online do influence us. I think this is a mixed blessing. Speaking for myself, when I ordered a new crock pot from Amazon the other day the reviews and starred rating really helped me narrow down my choices. Now, on things like books or homeschool materials I pretty much only give credence to trusted sources like people I actually know and who know me.

This brings me to a somewhat related rant: I heard a radio host go on a rant a week or so because people are posting their opinions online about stuff like books. He said he saw a book a friend of his had written and there were something like 800 positive reviews and 100 negative and he just couldn't figure out why people think other folks care about their opinion - the negative reviewers, not the positive. (He called people posting online reviews narcissists). The fact that those 100 people might genuinely have had concerns about aforesaid book didn't seem to occur to him.

See here's the thing: just because the majority has one opinion doesn't mean that the minority isn't allowed to express the opposite opinion. This is America, folks.

So, anyway, to make a long rant short(er): I'm not going to accept a sermon on narcissism by someone who has a radio show named after themselves (coughDave Ramseycough) or someone who puts their picture on every issue of "their" magazine. (I'm looking at you Oprah. Every doggone month.) We may be a narcissistic culture (I think we probably are) but those type folks have forfeited their right to lecture the rest of us about it.

And, as the link above tells us, online influence is real. Nothing is hidden so, if you wouldn't say it to a friend you probably ought not to be posting it on Facebook, your blog or an Amazon review.

Moving on now.

4. The New York Times had an interesting article (hey, even a broken clock is right twice a day!) about Family Happiness and the Overbooked Child. This parental guilt that we will deprive our child(ren) of finding their passion if we don't let them try EVERY EXTRA ACTIVITY AVAILABLE has got to stop. Here's the thing: prodigies do exist. And if, for instance, your child is some type of genius, you will probably recognize that right away. So I give you permission to banish that guilt of not putting your child in gymnastics when she is already taking piano and playing soccer.

5. This post about Homeschool Blindspots has gotten a lot of play around the homeschool blogosphere recently. It's well worth reading. (There are some grammatical errors that grate on my nerves. No one has to "peal" anyone off of the ceiling. Peel, maybe. But never peal.)

6. A homeschool parent responded to Disney's teacher of the year in this post. And another teacher also responded. Great fuel for thought in both posts.

7. For the humor / writing department: the world's funniest analogies. Here's my favorite:
The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling
ball wouldn't.
Stumbled on anything interesting lately? Share in the comments.

P.S. Blogger tells me that this is my 900th post. Wow. That's a lot of rants, book lists and stories about my adorable children.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dear Lili - 1 Year

Dearest Little (but not so little any more) Lili,
Hard to believe, but your first year is over and the second has started. Compared to how long the wait for you seemed (those are the longest months of a mom's life!), this past year has just flown by.
You are still a big-time Mommy's girl. Daddy will do, you tolerate a grandparent now and then, and sisters are OK, but you go for Mommy every time. Some things don't change, I guess.
Right now you crawl at super speed around the house. You pull up on everything and you'll let go but no unassisted steps yet. You just recently allowed us to start "helping" you walk around. Out of the four of you only Sweet Pea could walk before her first birthday so I guess you're content to follow in your two oldest sisters' steps.
Speaking of your two oldest sisters, you are like a combination of the two of them. I think if I could blend together Polly and Tigger's baby pictures the result would be a picture of you. Of course you do have a lot more hair than Polly had at this stage, so that's nice.
You love pretty much all food. My plan to skip baby food worked fairly well. You still only have the two bottom teeth but that doesn't hold you back from eating what you want. You're fairly comfortable with a sippy cup these days, although you do insist on holding them upside down, which makes it a bit harder to get anything out of them but you do NOT like us switching it around for you.
Actually, you're fairly opinionated about pretty much everything. You know how to get your point across. We laugh at how you raise yourself up to your full height and puff out a bit in order to intimidate Fen or your sisters. You may be petite but you're no pushover. You sleep through the night but you're still nursing a few times a day. That's fine by me. Except for the biting stage you went through. I'm thankful you only have two teeth!
You learned how to nod your head for "yes" and shake your head for "no" pretty early on and you let us know if you like something or not. We think you can say a few words (Mama, Dada, bye) but you're not much of a chatter. (Let's face it, it's pretty hard to get a word in edgewise around here.)
Other things you love: the water (bath-time or swimming), being outside, riding in your stroller, meal times, bedtime with your sisters (you particularly love playing with Tigger, whose bed is right beside yours), dogs, books, every food you've ever tried except spinach, hugs and kisses, playing pat-a-cake, peek-a-boo, and singing songs.
In the past year you've traveled clear across the country. Here's a bit of family trivia for you: you're the only one in our family to see the Pacific Ocean before the Atlantic. You were a great little traveler on our big vacation. Who knows where we'll have been by the time your next birthday rolls around!
In short, Little One, there just aren't enough words to describe how precious you are to us. There's just no way to describe the indescribable gift you are. God gives many blessings to His children and having children like you is one of the greatest! You are sunshine in our lives and I can't imagine what we'd do without you.
Love Always,
Mama

(Pictures: some of my favorite Lili pictures from the past year.)

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Things I Love Thursday - Vintage Goodies Edition

Vintage thread spools, that is.

These belonged to my great-aunt and now they belong to me.
My {non-existent} photography skills are really not doing these beauties justice but you'll just have to take my word for it: they are adorable.

And I love them. Spools of thread today just don't have the same cuteness factor, do they?

I haven't even mentioned the vintage buttons that came my way. Pinterest is overflowing with ideas for vintage buttons. I'm just not sure I can bring myself to do anything with mine. I rather like just looking at them and counting them and...

OK, I'm starting to sound a little {a lot} nuts.

Thanks to my Grandma for passing these little treasures along to me!

This post is linked to Things I Love Thursday at The Diaper Diaries.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Words for Wednesday - On Failure or Success

I cannot give you the formula for success but I can give you the formula for failure, which is:
Try to please everybody. - Herbert Bayard Swope

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Top 10 Tuesday - Books I Haven't Read

Otherwise known as Books I Feel Everyone Else Has Read Even Though I Haven't:
1. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck. Philip had to read this but I have not. I haven't seen the movie either, so I guess that's OK.

2. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne. Yet another book Philip has read (I'm noticing a theme here. Philip must be "everyone" to me. That sounds about right). My Mom says this is actually a worthy book but I have never taken the time to read it.

3. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger. Heard a lot about it but I've never read it for myself.

4. Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain. I've never even tried this one. I tried to read Huckleberry Finn when I was younger but I didn't make it very far.

5. Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. I'm not sure why I've never read this one, I just haven't.

6. Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. My mother-in-law and Philip both read this and passed the paperback on to me only I've never gotten around to it. It's not really the sort of book one just casually picks up and starts reading.

7. Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This seems like the sort of book I ought to have read but I just can't find the motivation to do so.

8. 1984 by George Orwell. I've been meaning to read this for ages.

9. Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer. I've read a few of the tales but not the entire collection.

10. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. Another one I've been meaning to get to...maybe when Polly reads this I'll read it too.

What about you? If you have a favorite on this list feel free to sing its praises in the comments. Maybe that will be the motivation I need to actually pick it up and read it.

This post is linked to Top 10 Tuesday at The Broke and the Bookish.
Book images are Amazon Affiliate links. Action taken with these links could result in compensation for me.