Tuesday, September 28, 2010

What is Mama Squirrel reading?

(besides school books)

Come Walk with Me: A Woman's Personal Guide to Knowing God and Mentoring Others, by Carole Mayhall--I bought this from a Choice Books rack in a store at the airport. It covers a lot of good basics on the Christian life--things you thought you did know but maybe needed spelled out--or pounded in a bit harder. This is something that I thought might work for our adult Sunday School class, especially if we decide to do a separate women's study for awhile, especially because we have women of very different ages in the class--some mentors, some mentees, and some in the middle.

At Home in Mitford (re-read)

The Great Code: The Bible and Literature, by Northrop Frye. (partly re-read--I know I never quite finished this one before, so I'm starting it again)

What's for dinner?

Ten Napkins Sticky Chicken, with fresh parsley
Baked pepper squash (acorn squash)
Spaghetti Squares (cooked spaghetti mixed with eggs and a bit of sour cream and pepper, baked until set)
Reheated potatoes for people who don't like too many eggs

Peach Crisp

Monday, September 27, 2010

Don't talk over the music

During a recent conversation about Charlotte Mason and education, someone described a class they had seen where classical music was played, but where the teacher continued to talk, describe, and generally interrupt so that nobody could hear or pay attention to the music.

Ann Voskamp has often talked about silences, listening. Most of us now do not come from a culture of nurturing silence or of careful, deliberate listening. Silence is not natural or comfortable for most of us, any more than total darkness is natural or comfortable for those of us who live in cities and always, even in the middle of the night, have some light around us somewhere.

But that doesn't mean silence is bad; we just have to work harder at listening. And at letting others learn to listen. And look, too.

Do our lives and our children's lives include enough of these? Looking at pictures, without interruption. Listening to music. Listening to beautiful words, without too much explanation. Looking at and listening to large and small things outdoors, without chatter about other concerns. Looking at darkness (and at whatever stars appear while we look). Listening to others' prayers.

Listening to silence.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Yes, I'm here...and some CM thoughts

We have simply been busy with the daily round at the Treehouse, besides taking care of a couple of Squirrels who haven't been feeling well this week. Mama Squirrel's online time has also been taken up with working through last week's emails and working on some curriculum-related stuff. So the blog has been a bit quiet.

Our fall homeschool is starting to work itself out into the things that fit well, the things we're still figuring out, and the one or two things that obviously weren't going to fit in once we got going on our days. Over the past month or so, Mama Squirrel has had her mind back on Charlotte Mason's books and some of her "big ideas," because even when you think you have things the way they should be, there's always room to rearrange, shift focus, use things differently. For CM homeschoolers, the rut we often get into--even after only a few weeks of school--is turning everything into a book lesson. The challenge is to keep the big wonderful world close at hand, and to get out into it whenever possible, especially these days when the sun is still beautiful in the afternoons. And to remember that there are doll clothes to be made, games to be played, music to be listened to, nature walks to take, and that even subjects like French and history can benefit by an occasional change of scenery.

Especially when you're tired from a morning of teaching (she says to herself), it's easy to figure that you're done for the day, and it is true that (in CM terms) children should have enough freedom to amuse themselves for periods of time without the parents directing their play or hobbies...but a bit of extra effort to fill in the spaces around the books seems to set the whole thing into a more beautiful frame. Schedule in the hands-on, ears-on, feet-on, tasting-on if you have to, but make it happen. Use what's around you, go outside, do whatever you can to make learning real...then, strangely enough, the book lessons seem to come more alive as well.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What are the Squirrels up to?

Enjoying the blue skies of mid-September, and the green beans, and the end of the tomatoes (I think).

Getting into Latin, and French, and decimals, and drawing parallel lines, and Benjamin Franklin, and Kidnapped, and Watership Down, and Kon Tiki, and Fauré, and Amy Grant's You-tube videos from the '80's.

Looking forward to drama classes and voice lessons that start up this week. (Ponytails' side note: her class is an improv troupe. "I'm starting Tuesday, and the lady who helped us sign up says that we have to work on working well in a group together first, and then we're going to perform in places like nursing homes and stuff like that if we get to be a strong enough group. (fingers crossed)") And hanging out with Coffeemamma at the library while the offspring do their thing. (Coffeemamma, don't tell Schmoo yet that Crayons has signed up for the same class--she wants to surprise her.)

Ponytails: "My Birthday is coming up this week! Guess how old I am. This is soooooo hard. Hint: it's old enough to not have to order off the kid's menu. Heh, heh."

Friday, September 10, 2010

The flickers reappear

Have you ever seen a Northern Flicker?

They have been visiting our backyard in large groups over the past couple of afternoons, mostly when the sun's out, and have been feasting on something in the grass (probably the ants which seem to be out in full force as well). From our above-ground basement window, we have a perfect view of anything that flies, creeps or hops along the grass, including amazing close-ups of parent and baby flickers.

The last (and only other) time I mentioned flickers on the blog, it was also the middle of September--so I'm wondering if this is one of those annual events that Charlotte Mason said we should note down and look forward to each year. I don't remember seeing them last year, but maybe we just weren't looking for them.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Wheat-free banana bread/muffins (thanks DHM)

The Deputy Headmistress posted this recipe yesterday for wheat-free banana bread that uses oat flour (what you get when you run rolled oats through the blender or food processor). I tried it out this morning with a couple of changes: I used half a cup of brown sugar, oil instead of margarine, beaten egg whites instead of whole eggs (only because I had them in the fridge), and baked it in mini-muffin pans instead of having to bake one big loaf for an hour. You could bake regular-sized muffins too. I got about 20 half-sized ones out of that amount of batter, so you would probably get ten good-sized regular ones, or twelve if you're careful.

They rose very well and have a nice nutmeggy flavour. Thank you DHM!

Friday, September 03, 2010

A lot for a little (thrifted curriculum and some yarn)

Our homeschool budget this year is very small. Not that we don't already have materials to use, but I haven't bought a lot new, and there isn't much room for extras.

But God often does a better job of stretching a little money than I can. If he could do it with a bit of bread for thousands...still I'm often surprised at the things that come up.

Mr. Fixit took today off, and our rainy "vacation day" included stops at a couple of thrift stores, one for-profit (you have to watch their prices) and one charitable (more reasonable). This is what came home for $11.25:

Ginnie and the Cooking Contest (not pictured, Crayons is reading it), $1 at the for-profit store. (We have two other Ginnie books that she liked.)

NIV Adventure Bible, $1--perfect for Crayons' Bible reading

Gabriel Fauré Requiem cassette, 25 cents --our term's composer

Write Away, a younger version (aimed at second graders) of Writers Inc., a book we use in middle school (we have two thrifted copies of that one). Write Away is a bit on the young side for Crayons' English, but for $2 it was worth bringing home.

Alpha to Omega: The A-Z of Teaching Reading, Writing and Spelling, by Bevé Hornsby and Frula Shear, Fourth Edition. First published 1974, this revision 1993. A British book aimed at students with dyslexia and older learners with reading difficulties; but I just liked it for its short lessons in phonics and its British-flavoured dictation sentences (some of which are not kid-friendly--be warned). "Lay the table for tea." "I cannot do my Maths tables." "Mind that the candle does not set fire to your nightdress." "We live in the lodge at the park gates of the mansion." "It was a harmless frolic, but he shouldn't have done it in public." "A cynic is a person who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing." $2 from the for-profit store.

Milliken's Sumer and Babylonia, a book of coloured transparencies, by Kent L. Forrest, copyright 1969, $1 at the for-profit store. This will be great for Crayons' Bible Archaeology and Geography study.

Two new balls of Patons Canadiana yarn, $2 each, enough to make a pair of slippers and maybe some hair scrunchies.

And the sun came out after lunch.

Thank you, Ponytails, for the photo.