Monday, August 31, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"the blessedness enjoyed by one who is favored by a superior"

-- from the Hebrew definition of the term which corresponds to the Greek "charis"

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Words and Wool

It's time for another round of projects and books. Here is a picture of Rachel's finished knitting project for 4h this summer. She put many, many hours into it and the shawl turned out just beautifully! It looks much better in person than it does lying on the carpet in this picture. I'm afraid I have no idea what the name of the pattern is!

I spent more time working on quilts this summer than knitting. I managed to finish this quilt for David for his birthday. He was the only child who did not receive a quilt from me at their birth so it was high time I made up for that! I found the star squares at Goodwill Outlet and enjoyed putting the quilt together around them. David LOVES his quilt!

I did start into this beautiful skein of Madelintosh (Rainwater I think). It's a test knit of one of my sister's patterns.

I found six handmade lace placemats at Goodwill Outlet this summer and had to bring them home. They were very yellow but cleaned up beautifully. I can't imagine all the work they must have been to create!

I did make one flower for an order that requested "green". I have a number of tea cozies on the go and must get them finished up for the shop.

The other knitting project that I get a row done now and then is with this gorgeous baby alpaca wool with which I am knitting this Jared Flood pattern.

As I recently mentioned, my family and homeschool responsibilities have increased in such a way as to leave me less time for these types of creative outlets. I am thankful to be okay with that just now. Reading has become my main relaxation outlet and at least that gives me lots of food for thought.

The Shepherd's Life: Modern Dispatches from an Ancient Landscape by James Rebank. Perhaps you saw me mention this a few weeks ago in the Scottish Farm post. I just really enjoyed this glimpse into the everyday life of a modern shepherd in the English Lake District. Do beware that there is significant amounts of language in the book.

Art Before Breakfast: A Zillion Ways to be More Creative No Matter How Busy You Are by Danny Gregory was a quick, inspiring book aimed at getting people to draw. The pages and drawings were fun and the book definitely made one think, "I could do this". No, I didn't really do any of the exercises, but I did find my daughter looking at it, asking for a sketchbook, and then later finding her drawing in it. I also found myself drawing more as well. Purpose accomplished!

The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall. Finally! A new book in our beloved Penderwick series. We've enjoyed following the adventures of this modern-day largish family that live on the East Coast. This book's major themes deal with the loss of the family dog as well as the processing of grief over the death of a parent some time ago. These are both topics that are important for children and I think the author did a good job of walking kids through the realities of this without making it an overly dark story.

When Wanderers Cease to Roam: A Traveler's Journal of Staying Put by Vivian Swift. This was a fun book to browse through over the months as it is a scrapbook/journal of sorts organized by the months and seasons of the year and includes watercolors, anecdotes, quotes, and the author's personal memoirs of travels. I found it when I had looked up "Susan Branch" on Amazon as the style of the book is similar to Susan's.

  The Carousel by Rosamunde Pilcher was a very fast read, probably too fast.  Some of Pilcher's novels are among my very favorites but this book was too easy to predict and everything happened too fast. The book has some points with me since it is set in England, but I probably wouldn't ever read it again.

Born Under an Assumed Name: The Memoir of a Cold War Spy's Daughter by Sara Mansfield Taber was a fascinating book. Taber grew up moving frequently as her dad's work (a spy for the CIA) took the family to various places around the world and the USA. Initially I thought the book was going to tell all sorts of interesting things about spy-life. Rather, it talked about what it was like growing up in so many different places and cultures. I found myself connecting deeply with what Taber related.

I haven't lived in as many cultures as she has, but I did spend several years of my childhood in Africa and then of course spent four years in Scotland as an adult. In between, my family moved multiple times. Taber talked about saying goodbye to people and places, finding her heart torn between two countries, wrestling with how to be American and yet love other countries, prizing mail and communication with old friends, and coming to grips with the fact that you can't escape unscathed from the downside of moving so much and through so many cultures. It was like therapy reading this book!!!

That said, Taber and I do not share the same world view and so while sharing many of the same emotions and experiences, I do look at these things in my life through a different lens. However, this book was still very fascinating and personally helpful.

I think that's it for now! You can find more ideas for knitting and reading at Ginny's Yarn Along.

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Mondays are for Grace

"Grace means that all of your mistakes now serve a purpose instead of serving shame."

-- Author Unknown

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Back to School

We are all officially back in school as of this week! Monday was a very exciting day because it was Laura's very first day of kindergarten!

Andrew began 8th grade with his online school. He loves it!

James began 6th grade and David 4th grade in our regular homeschool.

And Rachel doesn't have a first day of school picture but she began her sophomore year at Covenant Christian High School at the end of July. Her fall sport is golf which appeals greatly to me because this means I get to escape for a few hours every week to beautiful nature where I can sit in a cart, watch Rachel play, enjoy the outdoors, and think.

We took a field trip to the State Fair this week! The weather was nice and we always look forward to this tradition.

I loved the bonsai exhibit. I have always been drawn to trees, a bit like being drawn to cows and farms. Maybe someday I'll have a bonsai.....

The kids loved the Lego table at the fair. They did not want to leave it!

I loved all this farm machinery created out of Lego!!!!

And this farm!!! I loved it! Look at the wheat, and there were soybeans and corn too!

And the garden!

We chose our day at the fair specifically to watch the Knights of Valour perform a jousting competition. It was fantastic!

150 pounds of armor on each knight! James is all ready to build his own!

Imagine how hot it was for these poor "knights" in all that armor! But it sure was fun to get an up-close look at a tilt yard and just how a joust competition works.

Here's a little video:

We also love the Pioneer Village at the state fair:

To end our first week of school, and to help reinforce our study of Maine and Massachusetts in geography class, I decided it was time to introduce the children to lobster. None of them had ever had it. So we invested in one lobster. (Which Laura suggested she might like to keep as a pet.)

And we all tried the lobster!

The child who hopes to live in Maine one day LOVED it, some of the others enjoyed it, and one isn't into seafood that much. 

On Fridays we do "fun school" which consists of read alouds, educational games, crafts, drawing, hiking, cooking, art, Bible, and things of that sort. This week we had time for cooking and the kids made Boston baked beans, Boston brown bread, and blueberry buckle. Yum!

Here's what we are using in homeschool this year:

America From the Beginning (America From the Beginning: A U.S. History Curriculum for Grades 3-8). I always struggle trying to find a history textbook because I am never satisfied. I probably won't ever, even if I wrote one myself. That's my basic struggle with homeschooling in general -- there is SO much more to study and learn than can ever be taught. That said, I think I'm going to be happy with this textbook overall.

Trail Guide To Us Geography Teachers Man We've gone through this trail guide before -- maybe 3 years ago -- and have begun it now again. We are focusing on two states a week -- a pretty fast journey through America, but it gives the kids a little taste of the other states. Along with this I utilize the ABC books that you can find for each state -- like "H is for Hoosier". And, when time allows, we can make state foods to try.

  Hoosiers and the American Story. I am so excited about this new textbook for Indiana State History. It's time for James and David to study Indiana history this year and it's also perfect because we will be celebrating 200 years of statehood in 2016. I'm hoping we can tailor several field trips and many read alouds to facilitate this study.

Great American Artists for Kids: Hands-On Art Experiences in the Styles of Great American Masters (Bright Ideas for Learning (TM)). Since we are studying American History this year I thought we could take a little time to learn more about great American artists while we are at it. This book is my guide and I can add in little clips from Youtube to help with various painters' lives and works.

Who Is God? (And Can I Really Know Him?) -- Biblical Worldview of God and Truth (What We Believe, Volume 1) is the book we are using for Bible this year. It seems to be a good level for both James and David.

Exploring Creation With Botany -- Young Explorer Series (Young Explorer (Apologia Educational Ministries)) is our science textbook and with this we will focus on doing a lot of botanical drawings and hikes at Eagle Creek. This may be my favorite area of science.

This is the curriculum we use when we do school together. The kids do grammar, math, and handwriting on their own and we are very blessed to have an excellent writing teacher nearby from whom they can take "Institute for Excellence in Writing" classes from throughout the year.

And so, off we go into another 180 days of education!

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