Tuesday, February 24, 2015

our studies

I made these photo collages up earlier this year but never got around to posting them. This represents just some of the books and materials we have been working through this year with Seth.
I had hoped to post links but in order to make this still relevant, I'm afraid I just have to post it as is. If you have questions about anything, just ask me.

family life

Many of these photos were already posted on Facebook in the last few weeks, but I wanted to have them all here too.

book sale finds and musings

Last week, being frigid and filled with snowy weather was also the annual book sale that I and other friends attend hoping to find good books to help us cope with cabin fever and lengthening book lists. I took some photos of some of the books I found, first with the kids and then later in the evening by myself. 

The books are given a wipe down to remove any griminess and then I usually try to safely remove sticker residue before the books are then scanned into my Library Thing account. Then the books are distributed throughout the house: some up to Laura's room, Seth's room and my room. Others come to the shelves in the living room, one of which seen below holds part of our Dr. Seuss (and friends) collection.  The rest are stored on the basement shelves awaiting their turn to be called into service upstairs. Yes, like just like Downton Abbey except without the period costumes and the enthralling drama.

I picked out most of the books, with Laura and Seth adding a few to our basket-box that I might not have picked if I was alone. But in the end, we come away with only a few books that I consider junk food for their brains and everyone is happy. And yes, I am willing to concede that the Porsche 911 book that I impulsively plucked from a shelf on my way to the book counter table may be junk food for me, but it's not like that's the only thing I'll read this month.  Honest. (It in some strange way replaces the childhood poster from my bedroom that disappeared from my possessions so long ago I cannot remember why or how it went. I earned that Porsche poster by selling a certain number of magazine subscriptions or some other glorious fundraising scheme I was required to participate in. It was a gorgeous red model on a glossy black background and hanging that on my formerly pink, then white, now non-existent bedroom wall made me feel that I knew something about cars. I knew what I liked if nothing else.)

And finally in the interest of full disclosure, I add in some of the other books that didn't get their picture taken, lest you think I skimped on my book purchases and also my rumpled, indigo-stained list from my back jean pocket to prove I had a purpose to my shopping. And then, at long last, the real end of this post with a few photos of some of the aforementioned book spaces in our house.

Seth also picked up most of the books in Lemony Snicket's  A Series of Unfortunate Events of which he has already listened to several in the series. I also found the same piano theory books Seth is using now, with no writing inside which will be good for future piano students in our house.
I bought us a like new French to English dictionary and found a copy of the grammar book my French-mentoring friend Kathleen told me to get. And I added to our C.S. Lewis nonfiction writings as well which are usually hard to find there.  Also we found a few more picture books to add to our collection from Robert McCloskey, Jan Brett and others.

Friday, February 13, 2015

keep going

Every now and again I have to write myself a pep talk. This is what I'm telling myself today.

Shakespeare, Plutarch, Bullfinch's Mythology, Robinson Crusoe.

These are some of the areas of our studies that have brought me low, that have made me avoid eye contact with their spines, that have caused me to inwardly sigh as I opened up the spot where we reading. The ones that have caused me to read with the confidence of Piglet facing Kanga missing her Roo. Uncertain I knew anything about anything.

I've read all the why-shoulds. I've seen the how-tos. Nothing else remains. It's time to pick up the book and read the words on the page. Gulp.

Jeanne speaking about reading Plutarch, gives us this short but helpful phrase.
Reading builds muscle.
Perhaps you are like me, I know many of you are.
We are asking our children to read and study books, authors, languages, and genres that we ourselves did not study when we were in our student years. And now compelled by a desire to raise our children onto our shoulders, to give them a view of the land both in front and behind them, we have persuaded ourselves to wade in where we cannot feel the bottom.

Much of our personal reading time is spent reading ahead or along, barely keeping our head above the water at times. But we are building muscles that we did not have when we left the shore.  We are making connections and finding ourselves understanding more and more.

I'm writing this to me.
I'm writing this to you.
Keep swimming.
If you've been resting on an island, dreading getting back into the water, flex your muscles and dive in. You have a worthy goal and the resources and community to attain it.
So whatever book, play, biography, re-telling has you discouraged today or any day, think about your goals and keep going. One line at a time.

As he still stood looking down at her, he began to remember other things from the time that they had shared together before Paris came. Pity and love stirred again in his heart. His drawn sword slipped from his grasp and fell ringing upon the pavement. He stooped and gathered her up, and her white arms went round his neck even as he coughed in the smoke of burning Troy.

~Black Ships Before Troy: The Story of the Iliad, by Rosemary Sutcliff,

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Blueberry muffins

Blueberry Muffins (from a friend)

Mix together the following three dry ingredients:

2 1/2 cups flour
1 1/4 cup sugar ( I never use that much, more like 3/4 cup cane sugar)
1 Tbsp. baking powder

Cut in 1 cup of softened butter.
Remove 3/4 cup and add 1/2 tsp. cinnamon to this and set aside for streusel topping (not pictured on this batch)
To the rest of the batter, add 3/4 cup milk, 2 eggs and 1 1/2 tsp. vanilla.
Stir until just moistened.
Fold in 2 cups blueberries.
Put in muffin tins.
Top with streusel topping mixture.
Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, check after 20 minutes and adjust time as necessary.