Friday, January 30, 2015

Euro Foods (photo post)

Every so often we go on a splurge at Euro Foods, and then have a sort of indoor picnic over the weekend.
Rolled oats. I don't usually buy them at Euro Foods, but I needed some and we were there anyway.
Frozen perogies
Noodles, spice cookies, feta cheese, fruit pastries
Sesame snaps, fruit juice
Tea for Mr. Fixit
Chocolate milk
Rolls and cold cuts (not pictured: meat for the freezer).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

How do you make ranch-spiced potatoes?

This was the main part of tonight's meal. We've made something similar with taco seasoning, but this is our all-purpose version. The ranch dressing mix is from Stephanie O'Dea's book More Make it Fast, Cook it Slow, but I've cut it in half for this recipe. The mix doesn't appear on her website, and I haven't found it anywhere else, although there are lots of other ranch seasoning mixes out there. Most of them use dill, and this one doesn't, which is one reason my family likes it. If you have some other ranch or seasoning mix you like, give it a try instead.

Ranch-Spiced Potatoes

6 to 8 medium-sized potatoes, peeled and cubed (large dice)

1/4 cup butter or margarine

Seasonings, to total about 1/4 cup:
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. dried minced garlic or garlic powder
1 1/2 tbsp. dried minced onion, or onion flakes
1 tsp. black pepper
1 tsp. sugar
1 1/4 tsp. paprika
1 1/4 tsp. parsley flakes

Optional: sour cream

Grease a large casserole dish or pan (it doesn't have to have a lid). Put the potatoes into the pan. Melt the butter or margarine and mix in the combined seasonings. Stir into the potatoes. Bake uncovered at 400 to 425 degrees F for about 45 minutes, stirring once during cooking, and probably when you take them out to make sure they haven't stuck to the pan. You can add in some sour cream near the end of the cooking time, but we don't usually bother.

What's for supper? Mostly potatoes

Tonight's dinner menu:

Ranch-spiced potatoes
Peameal bacon
Baked beans (canned)

Cran-apple crisp mini muffins

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

What's for supper? Bread and leftovers can be good

Tonight's dinner menu:

Reheated chicken-vegetable pasta
Raw veggies
Whole wheat bread from the machine
Things to put on bread: sweet potato hummus, regular hummus, liver sausage

Stovetop cran-apple crisp.

If you don't keep them out, they will sneak in. (Ourselves, Book II: The Scope of Will)

If you don't keep them out, they will sneak in.

 "If we keep the will in abeyance, things and affairs still present themselves, but we allow instead of choosing. We allow a suggestion from without, which runs with our nature, to decide for us. There would not seem to be much difference between the two courses; but most ruined lives and ruined families are the result of letting allowance do duty for will-choice." ~~ Charlotte Mason

Does that mean you have to go to a lot of fuss every time you make a choice? What if you just make a typical choice for your own lifestyle? Do you have to refuse everything that is "normal?"

"But, you will say, he has not chosen at all! Yes, he has; he has chosen with modesty and good sense to follow the lead set by the common sense of his class."

It's worse to go in with no ideas and let yourself be "sold" something, than to go in with a good but not eye-popping idea and stick to it.
"Or, again, there is the man whose conceit leads him to defy general usage and startle the world with checks and ties, feeling that he is a mighty independent fellow. He is merely obeying the good conceit he has formed of himself, and his daring ventures come of allowance and not of choice."
If you're not an EverydayZilla, you won't be a BrideZilla.

"The question of a lady's shopping is only a by-issue, but it is well worth considering; for, alas! the shopping scene at Madame Mantalini's is of too frequent occurrence, and is as damaging to the nerves and morale of the purchaser as to those of the weary shopwomen."

Again, it's more than shopping.
"Are we going after the newest and cheapest things in morals and religion? are we picking up our notions from the penny press or from the chance talk of acquaintances? If we are, they are easily come by, but will prove in the end a dear bargain."

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

What's for supper? Chicken vegetable pasta, and options

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chicken-vegetable sauce, or just vegetable sauce

Pita crisps (made in the oven)
Sweet potato hummus

Apples, bananas, oranges

Geography lesson: towards Lake Tanganyika. With food. (Lydia's Grade Eight)

We have gotten the Ondaatje party through Zungomero, and they are now headed to Lake Tanganyika. As Ondaatje points out, this part of the trip took Burton and Speke seven and a half months; the 1996 expedition managed it in eight days. This is a long chapter and I am breaking it into shorter lessons; this one covers their journey only as far as Dodoma.

For Class III. Geography. Book studied: Journey to the Source of the Nile, by Christopher Ondaatje.

Adapted from this Parents' Review article by Dorothy Brownell.

Tanzania—Zungomero to Dodoma.

Before the lesson begins, have a blank map already drawn, and the map questions written up.


I. To continue the lessons on Tanzania.

II. To foster interest in foreign countries.

III. To teach the student how to learn the map of a country by means of map questions.

IV. To implant mental pictures of the characteristic scenery of East Africa in the student's mind.


Step I.—Set the student. to work to learn the map of this part of Tanzania, and write the answers to the questions. (10 minutes)

Step II.—After having her study the map(s) for fifteen minutes, let her fill in the blank map I have sketched. (5 minutes)

Step III.—Require her to give me the answers to the questions, and as she answers give information, in order that she may become acquainted with each place as it is mentioned, and be able to picture it in her mind. (15 minutes).

Step IV.—In the book, read pages 114 to the top of page 121. Narrate, particularly describing the food ugali. Note: Ondaatje describes it as being made from millet, although Wikipedia says maize. Have a sample of millet porridge (in the slow cooker).

Map Questions.

I.—Look at the map of the Eastern Arc Mountains. These mountains are found in what two countries? In what direction does the chain of mountains run? What very large mountain does the chain connect with? Note particularly the Rubeho Mountains. 

Read the introduction to the chapter on page 109, the top of page 110, and this on page 111: "After Kilosa, Burton's route took him south of Dodoma, a name not found on his itinerary."

II.—Find Dodoma on the map of Tanzania. Why is it an important city? How would you describe its general position in the country? In what direction would you go to get to the ocean? What direction would you go to get to Lake Tanganyika?

Note. Really interesting stuff about Dodoma on this page!

Monday, January 26, 2015

What's for supper? Pork balls, fruity bars

Tonight's dinner menu:
Pork meatballs with barbecue sauce
Sweet potatoes
Green beans

No-bake dessert bars made with raisins, bran flakes, white chocolate chips, apple juice, and a bit of coconut, with oatmeal in the bottom of the pan and sprinkled on top

Composition lesson: Omit Needless Ofs, and an essay by Francis Bacon: "Of Expense" (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Part of a chapter from Sizzling Style, by William Bernhardt.  Only people who have spent as much time crossing out prepositional phrases as Lydia has will fully appreciate this writing advice. According to Bernhardt, the majority of prepositional phrases are excess baggage. If you can identify and mentally cross them out (as any student of The Easy Grammar Plus will be able to do), you can often omit them, or replace them with adjectives or other single words. Top offender, says Bernhardt: the word "of."

"Criticise the following passage from Bacon's Essays, and, after putting the meaning shortly in your own words,show how it treats all of the aspects of the subject." (Studies in composition: A textbook for advanced classes. By David Pryde, 1871) (The text here contains only the first two-thirds of Bacon's essay. Although the whole thing is not long, the last third is the most difficult and so I am taking Mr. Pryde's advice and shortening the assignment.)

"RICHES are for spending, and spending for honor and good actions. Therefore extraordinary expense must be limited by the worth of the occasion; for voluntary undoing, may be as well for a man’s country, as for the kingdom of heaven. But ordinary expense, ought to be limited by a man’s estate; and governed with such regard, as it be within his compass; and not subject to deceit and abuse of servants; and ordered to the best show, that the bills may be less than the estimation abroad. Certainly, if a man will keep but of even hand, his ordinary expenses ought to be but to the half of his receipts; and if he think to wax rich, but to the third part.

"It is no baseness, for the greatest to descend and look into their own estate. Some forbear it, not upon negligence alone, but doubting to bring themselves into melancholy, in respect they shall find it broken. But wounds cannot be cured without searching. He that cannot look into his own estate at all, had need both choose well them whom he employeth, and change them often; for new are more timorous and less subtle. He that can look into his estate but seldom, it behooveth him to turn all to certainties. A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expense, to be as saving again in some other. As if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable; and the like. For he that is plentiful in expenses of all kinds, will hardly be preserved from decay."

What's left for January? (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Poem to read: Longfellow, "The Tide Rises, The Tide Falls"

Paraphrasing an essay of Francis Bacon: "Of Expense."

Latin: Our Roman Roots, Lesson VI.

Ourselves Book II, The Function of Will & The Scope of Will.

How to Read a Book: Judging the Author's Soundness.

Continue Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves.

Continue The Merchant of Venice. Bassanio has won Portia, but Antonio is in trouble.

Continue Perelandra. Ransom has a long story to tell about his space trip.

English history: one chapter to read alone, and half of another with me.

Jean Sibelius, Symphony Number Four: second of two weeks, and next week we will start our second composer of the term, Ralph Vaughan Williams.

Something new: start the science biography The Seashell on the Mountaintop.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Why education is not, not, not a checklist (Lydia's Grade Eight, Charlotte Mason, and what is learning about?)

Just another Mama Squirrel rant on the same old subject? Maybe. But some things need to be said as many times as it takes.

The province of Ontario has had a common-to-all-schools curriculum for about twenty years now. The guidelines for each grade, each subject area are available online. Some homeschoolers make use of them, some of the time. Occasionally they have been useful, for instance a few years ago when I was trying to get our Apprentice approved for grade 10 mathematics; I could see how far the grade 9 content went. When we created a few of our own high school courses (grade 10 Canadian history, grade 11 philosophy), I used the basic questions and themes of the courses, but chose our own materials and methods. So yes, sometimes it has been helpful, usually when an outside party (the public school) is involved.

But why would you want to base a whole education on something so nebulous? The outlines are either so general and vague that you don't have a clue as to what to do with them; or they are so super-comprehensive that, again, you don't even know where to start. It's like looking at a restaurant menu with too many options but nothing to eat. Paper pizza, if you like.

But I don't like. I don't like complicated where things could be simple. And I don't like lack of substance, even if the substance takes pages and pages to lack.

This past week, my eighth grader and I worked on a short section from How to Read a Book, which pertained not only to reading but to all communication: how do you say "I understand what you said, but I disagree," without prejudice or undue emotion, but with enough specific details to support your position? And how do you deal with the fact that some people will, no matter what, resent the fact that you're disagreeing, because nice people shouldn't be disagreeable? Adler points out the difference between disagreeing with someone (because they are underinformed, misinformed, or haven't analyzed the case logically or throughly enough) and just being contentious. How many adults do you know that don't seem ever to have learned this? But instead of making it a checkmarkable lesson, wouldn't it be simpler to say "every eighth grader should read and discuss (non-contentiously) chapter 11 of How to Read a Book?"
We read the first two chapters from C.S. Lewis's second Space Trilogy book, Perelandra (Voyage to Venus). The book begins with the narrator's walk from a train station to a friend's house, on an errand that he is anticipating about as much as a root canal. It's getting dark. He imagines voices, or are they imagined? Maybe he should just go back...and then he gets to the house, his friend isn't there, and in the darkness he falls over something like...a coffin. Is the hair standing up on your neck yet? Should we go on to the next chapter, or would you rather fill out a vocabulary worksheet, or do a lesson on Lewis's use of descriptive adjectives? No?

We read about a journey through Tanzania. We read about Jessica's elopement with Lorenzo, and the opening of the three caskets. We looked at Albrecht Dürer's series of self-portraits. What did it mean when he painted himself as a "dude?" Why, another time, did he seem to pose as Jesus Christ? How do we create and re-create ourselves, showing ourselves first one way, then another?
Lydia finished reading 13 Things That Don't Make Sense (science). She worked on graphing equations. She wrote a summary of the return of Odysseus, from her reading of Edith Hamilton's Mythology. She wrote a business-like email describing herself briefly and requesting information about auditions for a play (real life, not a school exercise). She also knit like crazy all week, ran out of things to knit, went out Thursday night to buy more yarn (consumer education and estimation skills), and had a Lollipop Doll finished by the end of the next day (perseverance).
We read Tennyson's poem "Ulysses." "I am a part of all that I have met; / Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough / Gleams that untraveled world whose margin fades / Forever and forever when I move." Isn't that a good description of a lifelong passion for adventure...and learning?

But...those things we did this week don't all fit on a neat matrix, a checklist. I don't know if I can find them in the Ontario Grade Eight Common Curriculum.
□ Identify a variety of reading comprehension strategies and use them before, during, and after reading to understand increasingly complex or difficult texts
□ Demonstrate understanding of increasingly complex and difficult texts by summarizing important ideas and citing a variety of details that support the main idea
□ Develop and explain interpretations of increasingly complex or difficult texts using stated and implied ideas from the texts to support their interpretations
□ Extend understanding of texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts, by connecting the ideas in them to their own knowledge, experience, and insights, to other familiar texts, and to the world around them
□ Analyse a variety of texts, both simple and complex, and explain how the various elements in them contribute to meaning and influence the reader’s reaction
□ Evaluate the effectiveness of a text based on evidence from that text □ Identify the point of view presented in texts, including increasingly complex or difficult texts; give evidence of any biases they may contain; and suggest other possible perspectives
I think that all the book.
"Come, my friends. 
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world. 
Push off, and sitting well in order smite 
the sounding furrows; for my purpose holds 
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths 
Of all the western stars, until I die. 
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down; 
It may be that we shall touch the Happy Isles, 
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew... "
 -- Tennyson 

Classical: depends on definition

Karen Glass has a thoughtful post on her site, about the definition of classical education and why that definition really matters. I am especially taken with her paraphrase of Archilochus:
"I do not like a diploma from a prestigious alma mater, nor a Latin quotation, nor a teacher who is proud of his knowledge. Give me a man who knows what he does not know, but speaks the truth, asks the right kind of questions, and is full of wisdom."

Thursday, January 22, 2015

School plans for Friday (Lydia's Grade Eight), updated with art links

Stitch by Stitch, by Jane Bull

Lydia is in the middle of another knitting project, so this is a good day to do some readalouds.

Today's plans:

1. Opening hymn and maybe a couple of poems

2. With Mom: finish the last bit of How to Read a Book for this week.

3. Chapter 2 of Perelandra

4. Do some math (Key to Algebra: graphing equations)

5. Read some history
Whooping Crane
6. With Mom: start the next chapter in Ecology (Exploring the World Around You), including the section on territorial population control (read that part to yourself and then paraphrase it either verbally or on paper). In the December 2013 issue of Canadian Geographic Magazine, read "On the Rebound," about six Canadian species that have "rallied from the very edge of extinction."

7. With Mom: look at Dürer's self-portraits. Khan Academy has some excellent (short) videos on them too.

What's for supper?

Tonight's dinner menu:
Perogy Casserole
Leftover beef stew
Slow-Cooker Applesauce Cake
Canned pineapple.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Geography Lesson: Off to Zungomero

It's interesting that, when I'm "borrowing" lesson outlines from the relatively few available to us online, sometimes a lesson from one book will fit perfectly into an original outline, and then the next doesn't work at all. We had an earlier geography lesson based on Journey to the Source of the Nile which I treated more or less as a map lesson; then there was a short one where we just read. Today's lesson does not fit into the map category very well at all, although I tried. A number of places are mentioned in the reading, but most of them are pretty small and not on the maps; and when you look at the actual ground covered in the passage, it's quite a small bit of turf, relative to the size of Tanzania and the rest of the journey. Kind of like getting to the trolls and spiders chapters in The Hobbit, and realizing there's still an awfully long way to go.

Today's lesson has Christopher Ondaatje and his crew leaving Bagamoyo and attempting to find the place that Richard Burton called Zungomero--which  no longer exists and which nobody (in Ondaatje's experience) seems quite able to place. However, they do end up there, more or less, after some not uninteresting description of the woodland areas near the Selous Game Reserve.

So I decided to use the pattern of a history-lesson-with-map, rather than treat it as a map lesson.  This is what I came up with, based on this Parents' Review article by Eleanor M. Frost. Short and simple.

Subject: Geography.
Time: 30 minutes.  Southern Tanzania—"Bagamoyo to Zungomero." Book studied: Journey to the Source of the Nile, by Christopher Ondaatje.

Show two maps, one the general one in the book (before the start of Chapter 3), and the other a printout of this map of Tanzania, showing a few more place names. We will begin by reviewing the journey so far, looking at the maps.

Next the date 1857 written "on the board," which should bring to mind the names "Richard Burton and John Hanning Speke." Review anything we can recall about these two (I'm optimistic).

From the book we will read, beginning on page 87, about the drive from Bagamoyo to Ngerengere (see Google Maps), narration to follow. Note Ondaatje's observation that what took them only a few hours would have taken Burton and Speke probably a couple of weeks. Note also the lists of animals in the miombo.

Read pages 91-94, ending at a place called Matombo (see Google Maps again). Again, how does Ondaatje compare his journey to the original? For interest: look at pictures of the Matombo Mission.

(The search for Zungomero will continue in the next lesson.)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

School plans for the week (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Week 18 begins...

Morning readalouds:

Seeing the Mystery, chapter 3: "One of Us." "Do we know what speaks best to Indonesians? Would a painting by Raphael of the Crucifixion seem as strange and unreal to them as this Indonesian portrayal does to us?"

How to Read a Book: starting chapter 11, "Agreeing or Disagreeing with an Author." "If the reader understands a book, how can he disagree with it?"

Whatever Happened to Justice (Uncle Eric), chapter 21: "Instability, Nuremberg, and Abortion."

(Well, we could just stop right there, couldn't we?)

Independent Bible Reading: already scheduled.

History and Literature: Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves; reading about Charles I in The New World and The Trial of Charles I

Mathematics: working in Key to Algebra, Booklet 8

Composition and Grammar: The Roar on the Other Side; Easy Grammar Plus

Science readings: personal choice.

Latin: Our Roman Roots, finish lesson V. Theme for the week: "By leading us to truth, education lifts us above the cares of life."

Afternoon readalouds:

Journey to the Source of the Nile; continue the chapter "Lay down the burden of your heart: Bagamoyo to Zungomero." "[Burton's] first major goal was to reach Zungomero. That was our goal, too, but we had a problem: Zungomero has completely disappeared from all modern maps."

Exploring the World Around You, start chapter 9, "Population Balance." "In the predator-prey relationship, most people think that it is the predator that controls the prey population...But, it is just as true to say that the prey controls the predator population."

The Merchant of Venice

Afternoon other things:

Jean Sibelius, Symphony Number Four. Notes and extracts (I love this site!)

Nature studies, Life skills

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Homeschool moms do not (need to) know everything

I was talking to a new acquaintance at church, and she asked me what I do. I said that I have been homeschooling my girls for the last however many years. She said, "That must have been a great adventure!--because you would have to research everything that you taught them."

Yes, and go on Jeopardy when I'm done.

I didn't have a chance to correct that at-least-partial-misperception, and anyway it was only after I got home that I really thought about what she meant. No, homeschool moms do not know everything. If we're smart, we do not even research everything; that would be kind of like laying out a treasure hunt for the kids and then answering all the clues before they even finish reading them. Anyway, I've found I rather like knowing less about some subjects (e.g. knitting) than the Squirrelings do. Knowing that Mom is going to be of very little help on whatever it is (and sometimes Dad as well) forces them to find things out for themselves.

Some parents may be afraid to homeschool because they feel they don't know everything, or, as this person said, because they think they're going to spend their evenings "getting up a lesson" (to quote Charlotte Mason) and pass themselves off the next day as experts on snakes or the solar system. They hope that the kids are going to listen to what they say, but not ask any really difficult questions. And that they won't want to learn computer coding or basketball drills or something else we never learned ourselves, because that could be embarrassing.

Most homeschooling parents do figure this out pretty quickly, though: home education is not the equivalent of Mom giving an oral report every day. People who do know snakes or the solar system have said it better in their own books (or sometimes other media).  That's what we use. I am there to help find the books and to see to their ordered serving (another CM phrase). I am there to encourage engagement.  I am both the coach and the cheerleading squad.

I teach what I can. I help where I can. And sure, I do learn a lot along the way. But what matters more is that they're learning. Right?

Friday, January 16, 2015

Lydia Knits Some More

Water-bottle holder (pattern from KnitGrrl 2)
Coin purse (pattern from Klutz Knitting)

What's for supper? Frozen things.

Tonight's menu:
Frozen cannelloni
Sweet potatoes. Celery sticks.
Blueberry-raspberry crisp.

It's Friday! (updated with photos) (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Yes, we are almost halfway through the school year. Wa hoo.

Things to do today:

Read aloud: Francis Bacon, "Of Studies"
(Lydia is knitting a water bottle cover)
Also read some of Journey to the Source of the Nile, about the great loads of equipment that the 19th-century explorers had to carry, and some of the problems they faced even getting started

Listen to some of Jean Sibelius's Symphony Number One

Do some math and a couple of other book things.
Work in The Roar on the Other Side: close your eyes and write about the sounds you hear (or don't hear. Strangely enough, both the clocks in the room had stopped, so contrary to the expected, Lydia noticed the strangeness of No Ticking Clocks. Kind of like the Dog in the Night that didn't bark).

Linked from the Homeschool Blog Post Linkup

Thursday, January 15, 2015

From today's lessons: like the game of Telephone

We are using William S. Taylor's book Seeing the Mystery for this term's study of Christ in art. While I like the book, I'm finding that Taylor and/or his editors weren't always careful about getting the proper names of artists and works.  First case in point was something he called the "Spatzi Madonna"; it appears that he meant the "Pazzi Madonna."

Today's lesson mentions Indian artist Angela Trindade. Taylor refers to her as Angela Trinidade, and luckily Google Search suggested Trindade instead so I didn't waste a lot of time on the misspelling. But the funny thing I noticed is that Taylor's mistake has been copied into at least one other book, another book on Christian art that came up in the Google search and that cites Taylor's description of Trindade's work. "Trinidade" and all.

It's just a little thing, but it sure does show how small facts and names should be checked and double-checked. And that even if you find it in a book, you had better not always assume that the author got it right, or that their source had it right.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

What's for supper? Pasta night

 Tonight's dinner menu:

Pasta with choice of meat in the sauce or just chopped peppers
Green beans
Bread-machine garlic bread

Watermelon! (Take that, winter.)

Frosty sparkling morning, school plans (Lydia's Grade Eight)

"It reaches to the fence, 
  It wraps it rail by rail 
  Till it is lost in fleeces;  
It deals celestial veil....  
    It ruffles wrists of posts  
  As ankles of a queen,  
Then stills its artisans like ghosts,  
Denying they have been."  
~~ Emily Dickinson
Today's school plans:

Opening time: January's hymn.

Read aloud together:  How to Read a Book.

Bible, History, Science readings
Math (working in Key to Algebra this week, using the booklet on Graphing)

Composition and Grammar: work on The Roar on the Other Side
Latin lesson: Lesson 4, Day 3 (we are going through these lessons pretty quickly, and finding Lydia does remember quite a lot from four years ago)
Reading together:  The Merchant of Venice
Keeping a Nature Journal (nature notebooking)

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Lydia Knits Too

What Lydia's been working on during readalouds.

Re-posted quote for the day: Gladys Hunt on literature

First posted January 2006.
"Books are wonderful ways to learn the possibilities of being human. We can define character traits with words, but they take shape only when you see what they look like in a person. How can we understand honor or valor or courage unless we have sometimes seen these traits in someone's life? Good literature may so move the reader that is seems impossible to verbalize about it. The experience is what counts.... 
"This is why an evil character in a story may reveal the real nature of evil more clearly than a sermon on sin. Reading stories is also a vicarious way to see how goodness and humility and honesty and beauty play out in life. Literature does instruct us, even thought it may not be our main reason for reading. Malcolm Muggeridge wrote in Jesus Rediscovered that books like Resurrection or The Brothers Karamazov gave him an overpowering sense of how uniquely marvelous a Christian way of looking at life is, and a passionate desire to share it. Good books have a way of instructing the heart." ~~ Gladys HuntHoney for a Woman's Heart

Monday, January 12, 2015

Picture Talk: The Adoration of the Magi (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Dürer's Adoration of the Magi
Step 1.-- What do you know about Albrecht Dürer? ("Albrecht Dürer was a German painter with far reaching influence whose travels through Europe, including Italy and the Netherlands, gave him prominent success in printmaking and engraving. Renowned as one of the best artists of old master prints; his works were intensely religious and iconic." Virtual Uffizi)

Step 2.-- History of the picture.
The Adoration of the Magi is a 1504 oil on wood painting by Albrecht Dürer. It was commissioned by Frederick the Wise for the altar of the Schlosskirche in Wittenberg, the same place that Martin Luther would nail his theses to the door thirteen years later (and where Luther would be buried).  It is considered one of Dürer's best and most important works from the period between his first and second trips to Italy (1494-5 and 1505). It is no longer in the church, because a century later it was given to the Holy Roman Emperor for the imperial art collection in Vienna, and later it was put in the Uffizi gallery in Florence.
Step 3.--Studying the picture for several minutes, then describing it. (Impressions of the weather? What sorts of colours? How are people clothed? What is the baby doing? What is the servant doing? Is there anyone missing from the picture? Placement of the people, anything unusual? What geometric shape does their placement form?)  One funny note: one of the Magi is painted to look like the artist.

Step 4.--A few thoughts:  In 1494/1495, Albrecht Dürer spent time in Italy, and this painting reflects both the Northern (German, Dutch style) attention to detail and a "typically Italian perspective."  It also shows how Dürer was using some of the colours that he had seen used by painters in Venice such as Mantegna and Bellini. It is considered his first masterpiece.

Step 5.--Can you draw the chief lines of the composition?

Adapted from original notes by K.M. Claxton.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

This week's lesson from Ourselves: "The Will and its Peers"

Ourselves, Book II, by Charlotte Mason. Chapter IV The Will And Its Peers  Slightly edited for the feminine perspective.

The Will subject to Solicitations.––It is rather easeful to think of Will standing before the forces of Girlsoul, saying to this one, 'Go,' and to another, 'Come,' and to a third, 'Do this, and she doeth it.' The Will is subject to solicitations all round from 'the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life.' Every dæmon of Girlsoul tries, as we have seen, to get the ear of the Prime Minister, and shows, with plausible reasoning, that she, alone and unaided, is able to satisfy all the wants of the State. From the mere greed of eating and drinking to ambition, that 'last infirmity of noble minds,' every single power of Girlsoul will, if it be permitted, make for misrule

But, courage, my Lady Will! and the forces fall into place and obey the word of command. We have already seen how the Reason firm, the enlightened Imagination, the ordered Affections, the instructed Conscience, are at hand with instant counsel towards every act of volition.
Will does not Act alone.––It takes the whole person to will, and a person wills wisely, justly, and strongly in proportion as all her powers are in training and under instruction. It is well to know this, to be quite sure that we may not leave any part of ourselves ignorant or untrained, with the notion that what there is of us will act for the best.
Living means more than the happenings of one day after another. We must understand in order to will. "How is it that ye will not understand?" said our Lord; and that is the way with most of us, we will not understand. We think that in youth there is no particular matter to exercise our Will about, but that we shall certainly will when we get older and go into the world. But the same thing repeats itself: great occasions do not come to us at any time of our lives; or, if they do, they come in the guise of little matters of every day. Let us be aware of this. The 'great' sphere for our Will is in ourselves. Our concern with life is to be fit, and according to our fitness come the occasions and the uses we shall be put to. To preserve Girlsoul from waste, to keep every province in order––that, and not efforts in the outside world, is the business of Lady Will.
Opening hymn for today: Keble, New Every Morning is the Love.
"The trivial round, the common task,
 Will furnish all we ought to ask
 Room to deny ourselves, a road 
To bring us daily nearer God."

Photos by Lydia.

Geography lesson sample (Lydia's Grade Eight)

Subject: Geography. Time: 30 minutes.  Eastern Tanzania—Zanzibar in Particular (Lesson One of Two*). Book studied: Journey to the Source of the Nile, by Christopher Ondaatje.


I. To introduce the student to Eastern Tanzania and the Zanzibar Archipelago.

II. To foster interest in foreign countries.

III. To teach the student how to learn the map of a country by means of map questions.

IV. To implant mental pictures of the characteristic scenery of Zanzibar in the student's mind.

Step I.—Before the lesson begins, have a blank map already drawn on the blackboard, and the map questions written up on another board.  Let the student learn the map of Eastern Tanzania, Zanzibar in particular, by means of the map questions previously written on the blackboard, writing down her own answers.

Step II.—After giving fifteen minutes to study the map and the questions, ask for a general description of the region.

Step III.—Let the student fill in the blank map.

Step IV.—Require the student to give the answers to the questions, and as she answers give information, in order that she may become acquainted with each place as it is mentioned, and be able to picture it in her mind.

Step V.--Teacher read the section about the group's arrival on Unguja (Zanzibar) on pages 58 to halfway down page 60, then pages 66 to the top of page 69, including the description of the harbour at Zanzibar City, and their exploration of Stone Town. Narration to follow.  (More information about the history of Stone Town)

 Map Questions. 

 I.—On a map of Africa, find the country of Tanzania, and find Mount Kilimanjaro. (Who do we know that climbed Mount Kilimanjaro recently?) Look at the map of Tanzania, and name four cities on the coast. (Tanga, Pangani, Bagamoyo, Dar es Salaam). Name two cities on Pemba and two cities on Unguja / Zanzibar (the island).

Note. Bagamoyo is the mainland port nearest to Zanzibar (the island and the city), thirty-five kilometres farther east, off the coast of Tanzania. Have the student read aloud the section on Bagamoyo, page 57-58, and narrate.

 II.— Look at a map of the world. What other countries of the world lie partly in the same latitude as Zanzibar?  What waters bound the two major islands in the Zanzibar Archipelago?

 Note. Zanzibar (/ˈzænzɨbɑr/) is the semi-autonomous part of Tanzania in East Africa. It is composed of the Zanzibar Archipelago in the Indian Ocean, 25–50 kilometres (16–31 mi) off the coast of the mainland, and consists of numerous small islands and two large ones: Unguja (the main island, referred to informally as Zanzibar or Spice Island) and Pemba. The capital is Zanzibar City, located on the island of Unguja. Its historic centre is Stone Town, which is a World Heritage Site. (Wikipedia)

*Lesson One of Two: the second lesson was based on the last few pages in the chapter, which we read together--no extra work assigned.

 Lesson plan adapted from these original Notes of Lessons.

School plans for the week (Lydia's Grade Eight)

We are following a slightly more structured schedule this winter (a few more daily "must do's"), and the first week went pretty well, so I have to figure out how big a piece of the month's work we can or should try to fit into the second week.

Things that are pretty much laid out: Bible readings, grammar, math, Latin.

Other things we will probably be reading: Seeing the Mystery, the second half of Chapter 2. Churchill's The New World, continuing to unpack chapter 13 on Charles I. One chapter of The Trial of Charles I. Ourselves Book II, Chapter IV, "The Will and its Peers."  Whatever Happened to Justice, chapter 20, "Liberty vs. Permission." The Merchant of Venice, reading Act II.  Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, Cantos Four and Five. Working on The Roar on the Other Side. Finishing Chapter 10 of How to Read a Book.

Geography: reading about Christopher Ondaatje's journey to Zanzibar.

Some nature and art, and if we can do them together, even better.

Friday, January 09, 2015

Frugal Finds and Fixes

Frugal things I did this week:

Refilled the hot chocolate can with homemade mix

Read library books

Did logic puzzles in a magazine I bought with a Christmas gift card, and made one puzzle do double duty by using it for math class

Watched library DVDs and listened to Nero Wolfe on the radio

Used the frozen saved bits of Christmas squares to make Chocolate Fig Balls

Made slow cooker cereal with half brown rice, half barley

Cleaned out some we're-near-the-end-of-homeschooling resources to give away, which doesn't exactly save us any money but maybe it can help somebody else with their thrifty homeschooling. And it does free up space.

Used up as many groceries as possible (rather than buying something else)

 Made pumpkin cookies with a cup of frozen pumpkin.
Lydia found ice skates at the thrift store, plus a bag to carry them in, plus a pair of jeans.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

What's for supper? We eat our veggies

Tonight's dinner menu:

Chicken and rice from last night
Pan-cooked carrots
Spinach steamed with mushrooms

Pumpkin cookies, made with the last frozen cupful from a Hallowe'en pumpkin

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

What's for supper? Slow Cooker (Chicken) Burrito Bowl

Tonight's dinner menu:

For those who eat meat: Slow Cooker Chicken Burrito Bowl  (thanks, Heather)

For those who don't: Hillbilly Housewife's Taco Style Lentils and Rice, minus the bouillon cubes and with more lentils than rice
Taco toppings, whatever seems to be in the fridge: cheese, sour cream, chopped vegetables, salsa, some blue-corn tortilla chips we bought last week
Last night's Applesauce Spice Star Muffins.

School plans for Wednesday (Lydia's Grade Eight)

1. Opening hymn: Come Down O Love Divine (January's hymn from Ambleside Online)

2. Read aloud lesson and narration: How to Read a Book, continue Chapter 10.

3. Independent Bible reading from the Book of Psalms.

4. Independent reading with written narration: History and Literature, choice of chapters from the week's readings.

5. Mathematics: continue working on Chapter 3 (Mathematics: A Human Endeavor), "What happens to the collision impact of an automobile if its speed is doubled?"

6. Composition and Grammar: one page from The Easy Grammar Plus, and some work on either The Roar on the Other Side or the next composition assignment.

7. Science readings: optional today.

8. Latin Lesson 4, "Day 2."  Copy this Scripture: Vos estis lux mundi (You are the Light of the World.) Read the list of English derivatives from "lux," and add any others you can think of. Practice the memory work "Grace Before Meals" and the numbers one to ten.  Grammar lesson for the day: converting singular feminine nouns to plural form (easy). Look at a printed-out chart (from another Latin book), showing the declension of domina, in the nominative, genitive, and accusative cases. Make up otherwise-English sentences using the correct form of domina, e.g. (The lady) reads to her children.

9. The Merchant of Venice, continue Act I.

10. Jean Sibelius, Symphony Number 1.(Check out the awesome notes and extracts at that link.)

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Epiphany Dinner

On the table: Wise Men.

On the CD player: lute music.

On the menu:
French fries
Baked beans

Applesauce Spice Star Muffins.