Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Working Willingly With Her Hands

She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff. -- Proverbs 31:19

(Dedicated to the ladies who use their hands to provide beautiful things for others.)

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

CM Blog Carnival

The CM blog carnival is up at Dewey's Treehouse!

Go check it out.

Sunday, October 28, 2007


Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
--Psalm 23:5

Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. -Proverbs 3:5-6

But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint. --Isaiah 40:31

Seeking the discipline to place myself before God and wait.

The Washing of the Saints' Feet

The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram has an article on the Primitive Baptist practice of foot-washing. How about that? (The pastor interviewed was our pastor for years-- until we were able to help constitute a church closer to our home-- and he is one of our favorite people.)

Saturday, October 27, 2007


For want of a nail the shoe was lost.
For want of a shoe the horse was lost.
For want of a horse the rider was lost.
For want of a rider the battle was lost.
For want of a battle the kingdom was lost.
And all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Benefits of Living Math

(This is a refining of a post I composed for on of the Ambleside Online lists. I realized some folks here might enjoy reading it, too. I apologize for some of the formatting, but I am in a hurry to get off the computer and on with my Saturday.)

"Do not worry about your difficulties in Mathematics. I can assure you mine are still greater." --Albert Einstein.

We are certainly not math whizzes at our house, but I try hard to keep the door open. There are different kinds of giftedness in math, and who am I to stifle a gift that may not become apparent for years? I am comforted when I remember that Einstein, one of the greatest science minds *ever*, had trouble with math.

We read living math books for fun in our spare time. I have noticed that the living math books give us a touchstone when we come in contact with a difficult new concept in our schoolwork. I can reference a book, and the child will remember the book with
fondness, and it takes away some of the tension we seem to collect when learning math at our house. Another benefit is that some math storybooks help cement vocabulary, which is half the battle where math and science are concerned, imho.

Also, for my older child, some of the books have opened up the sheer excitement of math, some concepts of which she will not learn "officially" for a few years. Unfortunately, many kids who would excel at math "philosophy and analysis", I guess you could call it, are completely turned off in math by the time they get to these
exciting concepts in their traditional texts. I think living math books are to math study what "Tales from Shakespeare" are to literature study-- they provide a preliminary skimming of the concepts without the chore of mathematical figuring, just like "Tales from Shakespeare" provide a joyful introduction to the plot and
characters of Shakespeare plays without the chore of literary analysis.

Exciting concepts we have noted include the idea of a number like 'pi' existing, the thrill of exponential growth, the incredible mathematical order that exists in nature (fibonacci numbers), the hugeness of a googol (or even a googol-plex).

I like the lists at (under Math Reader Listings),but they are so comprehensive that they can be overwhelming. Our list of favorite living math books thus far is below.

For older kids we like:

Murderous Maths series by Kjartan Poskitt

The Joy of Mathematics by Theoni Pappas (I would buy any math book by
this author)

Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poetry for Two Voices by Theoni

Fractals, Googols and Other Mathematical Tales by Theoni Pappas

Math Wizardry for Kids by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams

The I Hate Mathematics! Book by Marilyn Burns (I would also by any math
book by this author)

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster

The Power of Un by Nancy Etchemendy

Math Curse by John Scieszka

Mathematicians are People, Too! series by Luetta and Wilbert Reimer

Whatever Happened to Penny Candy? by Richard Maybury (on the HEO list)

The Toothpaste Millionaire by Jeanne Merrill

The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kevin Hawkes

And picture storybooks favored at our house for younger kids (but
help olders too!):

The Grapes of Math: Mind Stretching Math Riddles by Greg Tang
good math author)

Math Fables by Greg Tang

Math-Terpieces: The Art of Problem-Solving by Greg Tang

This is the House That Jack Built (various)

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander and Marilyn Burns

Elsie Times Eight by Natalie Babbitt

One Hundred Hungry Ants by Elinor J. Pinczes

There Was An Old Lady That Swallowed a Fly

There Were Ten in the Bed

The 512 Ants on Sullivan Street by Carol A. Losi

Millions of Cats by Wanda Gag

Even Steven and Odd Todd by Kathryn Cristaldi

Bunches of Bunnies by Louise Mathews

One Hungry Cat by Joanne Rocklin and Marilyn Burns

If You Give a Mouse a Cookie by Laura Numeroff

The Tale of Three Trees by Angela Elwell Hunt

Monday, October 22, 2007

Math by Chocolate

The other day I had a math a-ha moment as I was correcting one of Triss' assignments. I think math a-has are my favorites, as I really didn't get math very well the first time around.

Triss just started the Transitions textbooks by Scott Foresman, and I read through the sidenotes in the teacher's guide as I was correcting. They have some neat features, such as Error Alerts for specific questions in the book that might give a child trouble-- they even tell *why* the child might be having trouble and how to remediate the concept. (I just love it when a book considers me intelligent enough to be "let in on the joke," so to speak. Especially if it is a math book. Makes me feel like thumbing my nose at the math books I had in school. Neener, neener, neener, I can understand math. But I digress. Ahem.)

I had been working with Mariel (not Triss) on converting fractions to decimals, and had run out of ways to explain it. Triss happened to be dealing with converting fractions to decimals in her book too, and the lesson overview from Triss' math program really helped me understand where my explanations might be falling short with Mariel:

Often a fraction is introduced via shading equal sectors of a circle, so that a/b means that a of b sectors are shaded. If this is the only way that fractions are presented, students associate the numerator and the denominator of a fraction with counting and they have no meaning for the fraction bar. [The fraction bar is the line between the numerator and the denominator for those of you who-- like me-- might have forgotten.] Thus, many students never think of the fraction as being a single number and it becomes more difficult for them to order fractions or rename a fraction as a decimal. Some students spend years of work with fractions before they are taught that a/b means dividing a by b. The changing of fractions to decimals and the graphing of fractions on the number line help develop the concept of the fraction as representing a single number.

Ohhhhhh. All of a sudden I was really excited about cornering Mariel for some more math. I knew we had to stop with the pizza math and work with.... chocolate bars.

Why is that? Why didn't I just do the number line and converting fractions to decimals thing? Well, that was a very good suggestion from Triss' math book, and Mariel's math book actually had her working like that, but it wasn't clicking for her. She kept forgetting that a/b is a divided by b, kept thinking that 1/10 was one out of ten *wholes*. And I realized that every time we have ever talked about fractions we have been dividing things in which each person gets a portion that is considered a fair amount, or a *whole* piece. Do you know what I mean? When you order a pizza, you don't expect to eat the whole thing yourself. You think each person will have a piece-- a *whole* piece. So, even though we call them pieces, they are wholes. Whole servings, you see? Same with pie. Each piece is a whole serving for one person.

Chocolate bars are different. When you have a chocolate bar, you expect to eat the whole thing yourself. So the bar is the whole. But if you have only one chocolate bar and nine chocolate-loving friends, the nice thing to do is break the bar into even pieces. And the pieces are little. It is easy to see that they are fractions of the whole, because after you eat your little piece you know it wasn't a whole serving. You could easily have eaten the whole chocolate bar yourself. The reality of dividing is thus brought into sharp relief. (Especially if you are very fond of chocolate.)

By the way, I curbed my urge to grab Mariel right that minute, and instead waited for the next day's math lesson. And chocolate bars really did help.

(And I still want to post about Elvis math. Maybe this week.)

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Strong Son of God, Immortal Love

Strong Son of God, immortal Love,
Whom we, that have not seen thy face,
By faith, and faith alone, embrace,
Believing where we cannot prove;

Thine are these orbs of light and shade;
Thou madest Life in man and brute;
Thou madest Death; and lo, thy foot
Is on the skull which thou hast made.

Thou wilt not leave us in the dust:
Thou madest man, he knows not why,
He thinks he was not made to die;
And thou hast made him: thou art just.

Thou seemest human and divine,
The highest, holiest manhood, thou:
Our wills are ours, we know not how;
Our wills are ours, to make them thine.

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

We have but faith: we cannot know;
For knowledge is of things we see;
And yet we trust it comes from thee,
A beam in darkness: let it grow.

Let knowledge grow from more to more,
But more of reverence in us dwell;
That mind and soul, according well,
May make one music as before,

But vaster. We are fools and slight;
We mock thee when we do not fear:
But help thy foolish ones to bear;
Help thy vain worlds to bear thy light.

Forgive what seem'd my sin in me;
What seem'd my worth since I began;
For merit lives from man to man,
And not from man, O Lord, to thee.

Forgive my grief for one removed,
Thy creature, whom I found so fair.
I trust he lives in thee, and there
I find him worthier to be loved.

Forgive these wild and wandering cries,
Confusions of a wasted youth;
Forgive them where they fail in truth,
And in thy wisdom make me wise.

--Alfred, Lord Tennyson

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Ideas in Retreat

When I write a post, it is generally because I have something that I really need to say and I don't have anyone to say it to, other than those loved ones who are really so good about putting up with my one-track mind that I hate to overburden them.

Lately, nothing has been congealing into a blog post in my mind.

Often I will start a post, only to find that I am too dissatisfied with it to hit "Publish," and not sufficiently clear-minded to rework the post into something I am satisfied with.

So for the past several weeks I have been posting things that I am not thrilled with, or else putting up little "blurb" posts in order to avoid going more than a couple of days without a post to the blog. But my heart is just not in it right now.

I am done posting things just to post.

Originally, I only posted when I had something simmering so persistently that to post it was to free my mind, and I had a lot of ideas simmering persistently then. But now there is nothing that wants to be out in front-- the ideas are too unformed to desire the light of day. They are retreating in order to regroup, perhaps.

So if you don't see a post here for quite some time, don't worry. I'm still here, and I'm still thinking, and I will post again. I just don't know when.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

SCM Contest

Simply Charlotte Mason is holding a photo contest!

They will use the winning pictures to decorate the headers on their webpages, and the winning photographers in each category will receive a free SCM e-book.

(I'd like to have Hours in the Out-of-Doors.)

The three I chose to enter are all in the Children and Nature category:


(Sitting in a little brook, man-made or otherwise, with complete disregard for her clothing, is such a Triss thing to do!)

A Beautiful Bouquet

(Cornflower is so proud of her beautiful bouquet! I enjoy seeing her face peep through the blooms.)


(This off-beat and colorful picture is very Mariel!)

There are several different categories in the contest, and the deadline is November 8th. Go check it out!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Brainstorming Year 7

I gave Triss the task of brainstorming different writing topics, with the only requirement being that they relate to her school work. She came up with this list of possible titles. (I thought they were rather clever!)

1. How Merlyn’s Life Works
2. Government as shown in The Once and Future King
3. How to Be Diligent
4. The CM Mottos and what they Mean
5. Different Sorts of Spiders and What they Do
6. How to Write your Narrations like Fiction (and Keep them Believable)
7. Poetry: Different Rhymes and Reasons
8. Plutarch: History or Literature?

Saturday, October 06, 2007

She's Back!

And we are glad.

Together Again 2

(Thumper may be the happiest of all of us. She is just not satisfied with anyone but Triss.)

Mariel and Cornflower painted a "Welcome Home" banner this morning:


We had to wait until evening to go pick her and my parents up from the airport. The first thing I noticed when I saw her was how really long her hair is. (I'm sure it was that long when she left ten days ago, but sometimes being really close to someone causes you to not notice those things.)

After we got home we visited and looked at what Triss brought back with her.

And made towel animals.

It's a towelephant!

Lady and gentleman elephants, aren't they sweet?


I'm just waiting from Mr. Honey to get back from his work weekend at the singing school encampment, and we will be complete again. Ahhhh. Much better.

(Triss had a lot to tell, but I'm hoping to get a little composition mileage out of her trip memories, so perhaps I'll post some things in the next week or two.)

Friday, October 05, 2007

How It's Going

It is the halfway point of our school term, and the time when I begin saying of things that have fallen off the list, "We'll add that back in next term."

I thought I would say it here because it is more fun than contemplating it by my ownty-donty self. But I must warn you: this post is awfully long and detailed, and most likely only interesting to myself.

First, the things that have taken and flourished this term:

1. Bible. We have done Old Testament History twice a week, New Testament History twice a week and Proverbs on Wednesday with only a little variation. (Our variation has been to periodically switch to a character study on Determination or to do some catechism questions that I plan to work in regularly next term for Mariel and Cornflower. And we have skipped it completely a few times.)

2. Memory Work. This hasn't been done every single day, but we do it more often than not. We have hit on the clever (and fun) device of having each child take a turn being the teacher and reading out the memory work for others to follow. It enforces the teacher's learning as well as the students'! I have only rotated in one new mnemonic so far because we needed refreshing on our old work.

3. Home Ec. This has fallen into more of the cleaning and less of the life skills. I kind of thought that might happen. But it sure has been a relief to know each day has an hour in which all we do is think about the house. Yesterday morning we cleared the old plantings in our flowerbeds and it looks so nice. (I haven't given up on the general life skills as part of this hour; I am going to think them through a little more thoroughly before next term.)

4. Artist Study. We have made it through two Da Vincis in five weeks, and I'm pleased with that. We only played the picture game and read a very little about Da Vinci. Mariel read his biography last year, and Triss has it to read for free reading this term, so I think we're doing well in the Da Vinci department. (The two paintings we studied were The Last Supper and Ginevra da Benci.)

5. Composer Study. We are finishing up Rimsky-Korsakov, and I think his music has been one of our favorite parts of this term. We are loathe to leave him, but next week will move on to Borodin. We are comforted in the knowledge that we have Scheherazade in its entirety on CD.

6. Grammar/Phonics. This is going swimmingly, in fact, I think we will be able to discontinue phonics for Cornflower in the next few weeks to months; she just has a few more combinations to be sure of. And I am using Grammar Songs with Mariel and having her do the exercises in the book, which is a very nice fit for her. We almost lost Triss' Grammar of Poetry lessons through a miscommunication (she thought I was going to do it with her and I thought she was doing it on her own), but we got on track a couple of weeks ago and are doing a combination of independent/together work. (I really need to know that stuff-- I had never even heard of a trope.) I am not having her do a separate grammar book, although I do want her to finish Winston Grammar. I'm just not sure where to fit it. Perhaps next term.

7. Math. It's getting done. We are applying a little creativity to it, as well. Who knew Elvis could help with multiplication tables? (I am planning to blog about that but I want to post pictures first.)

8. Reading practice. Mariel and Cornflower have been reading aloud to me! Sometimes we sneak it in while we are doing an Ambleside reading and kill two birds with one stone, but occasionally we practice reading fluently by reading (from a non-school book) the same (interesting) paragraph over in turns. With expression. It's kind of fun.

9. Nature Study. Yay! Look at us doing nature study! Mariel has an early violin lesson one morning per week and we just spend the rest of the morning at the park. We adopted a lovely one that has a wooded nature trail, a pond and an extensive towered and turreted wooden play area. To make it more enchanting, there is a church nearby that rings bells (actually, I think it is a recording) to sound each hour. If you close your eyes slightly, you can imagine you are in a country shire. But I digress. I have to mention here that Triss and I have only missed nature journaling one time, and I just can't believe we have been consistent with it. This is The First Time it has happened.

10. Musical instrument practice. I had the bright idea of scheduling actual practice *times* this term so there isn't any discussion about whose turn it is to delight the rest of us with music. We have four people practicing piano and one practicing violin, and our house is basically a great room with bedrooms tacked on, so when one person is practicing, everyone else gets to enjoy it. The schedule has helped immensely. They are doing well in their piano. I am pleased to see progress. Mariel's violin teacher says she is doing well also.

11. Ambleside readings. These are going fine, for the most part. I have a few glitches to work out in Mariel's schedule, and I don't know how long it is going to take Triss to get all of her reading done this year, but the kids are reading and narrating at least two to three Ambleside selections each school day. Triss is doing Apologia General Science on her own as part of her Ambleside reading, and that has been a little intense, but she did fine on the first module and is into the second. Mariel and I had a sudden realization a couple of weeks ago that Robinson Crusoe is not someone she easily sympathizes with, so we decided to read that one aloud and have her do Abigail Adams on her own. I had a lot of fun this week demonstrating to her what a thirty foot wave would do to a person when she mentioned that she thought Mr. Crusoe must not be a very good seaman to have so much trouble getting to the island when he is shipwrecked. I even entertained Cornflower. (I can't really describe what I did except to say, "pkwsheahhh, spsssshhhhh, glurguhlurg, whoa-whoa, Argghhh!!! And just picture me running and tumbling back and forth in front of the bookcases in the dining area with my hands raised and falling to imitate waves. Our ceiling is one-third the height of a thirty foot wave, by the way. Hahaha, snuck some math in and they Didn't Even Notice.)

12. Weekly sketch. This is only happening because Barbara at Heart of Harmony blog has been encouraging us all with Sketch Tuesdays. We have only missed one Tuesday since we started our term. Thanks, Barb!

13. Home Geography. On violin-and-nature-study day (which also happens to contain an afternoon of piano lessons), we have a little time after lunch and chores, and before piano lessons, to do some family geography. We have studied the use of the compass and mapped the schoolroom. Triss even laid out the entire house on four sheets of graph paper. Next term I'm planning on making things a little more challenging for Triss by using Be Expert With a Map and Compass and the US Army Map Reading and Navigation Handbook to spice up her geography study a little. I've also insisted that they put down their books occasionally when they are in the car so they can figure out which direction we are going and what city we are in and where we should turn next. Turns out this is a big challenge for them-- it ought to be, as the girls generally have their noses in books, envisioning some parallel universe, whenever I am driving them someplace.

14. Spanish. Yay! Javamom is teaching the children Spanish! She arrives without fail once a week and teaches my kids Spanish while I work with her son on piano. It is so wonderful. I'm afraid the kids are having trouble remembering to practice their flashcards during the week, though, and I need to remind them to write that into their independent work.

The things that are getting done sometimes:

1. Singing. We forget to do this a lot of mornings, but when we remember, we have a really good time. We are learning some hymns, and some songs out of a funny little book called "A Singing Bee". Their favorite seems to be Katie the Kangaroo. My goal for the term is to have them sing two or three new songs in harmony for their grandparents at Thanksgiving, which is six weeks away. I think we can still do it if we remember to get our singing done each day!

2. Poetry. This started out getting lost in the shuffle, but then I realized we could have Poetry Tea once a week. We have done that twice, and really enjoyed it, so I am going to make an effort to continue. We did forget about it this week. There is so much good stuff to learn in this life, it just gets squished out the edges!!

3. Latin. We have done Latin at least three weeks this term, but are only on the second lesson. We haven't found the groove where practicing flashcards is concerned, and this makes it more difficult for the kids to learn the material. I'm thinking of using some of our car time for flashcards. We drive to regular activities two days per week.

4. Dictation and copywork. We have done this three weeks out of the five, but are only getting it done two to three days per week. We have been using pencil grips and being very strict about holding the pencil correctly during dictation and copywork. Because of this I have scheduled the kids to do these assignments all together rather than part of their independent work. The time of day is not convenient and that is why it falls off a couple of days a week.

5. Recitation. Each of the girls has memorized one to two poems (well, Mariel has memorized two portions of a long poem) this term, but we keep forgetting to practice. Practice is supposed to take place in the half hour when we do dictation and copywork, but that is just not the happiest hour of our day (those interfering pencil grips, you know) and by the end of it sometimes all we want is a little run outside, or a hug, or a cup of hot tea. I think it would be better for them to each practice on their own and recite their poems once a week at the Poetry Tea. (Ooh, yay-- an idea! I'll take it, thanks.)

6. Time Books. These come out whenever necessary at history, so it's not super consistent, but it is getting done.

7. Current Events. We got a late start on Student News Daily, but Triss is doing these daily now. Or would be if she were here. :sniff: (She's coming home tomorrow.)

And the winners for Absolutely Fell Off The Radar:

1. Shakespeare. We have done exactly one session of reading. It just got lost in the shuffle. It's scheduled on Fridays at the very end, and we only made it an Event that once. Next term.

2. Plutarch. We have not done one bit of Plutarch because I keep forgetting that I mistakenly scheduled it during ice skating lessons. This will have to take place next term also, I guess.

So there you have it.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

News from the Traveler

My seafaring young'un and her Goggy won a ship-building contest.

Mr. Honey and I got to visit with her on the phone this afternoon, but she couldn't talk long. She was going to tea in the Amber Palace.

La, di, and very definitely dah. ;o)

Oh, but they did not win the yacht race. They let the other yacht win.

I miss her. Every time I talk to her she says, "Mommmmeeeeeeee!" I think she misses me, too. She's coming home soon.

Monday, October 01, 2007


Update: The folks over at Peakmore Academy have a wonderful series of posts on birds and birdwatching-- pictures, information, video, links! I highly recommend taking a peek.

fox sparrow

Cornflower and I are reading the sparrow chapters in the Burgess Bird Book. I found images of a fox sparrow, house sparrow, song sparrow and white-throated sparrow online. This is a good thing for us, as our book does not have color pictures.

And here is a site with audio for each kind (type the bird species into the search engine.).