Monday, June 30, 2008

Books Read in June

I have a lot of time to read this summer, between waiting for Mariel to be done with violin lessons, and waiting for Triss to be done volunteering at the library, and waiting for Cornflower to be done getting shots at the doctor's office, and taking the girls swimming a few times per week. So I finished several books in June.

Galileo's Daughter by Dava Sobel(finished): I just finished this book today and am still absorbing it. I can say right now that I am impressed with his repeated attempts to reconcile the witness of his eyes with the edicts of the group of cardinals who condemned him. And I had no idea of the complexity of the situation. It was really a most excellent book.

Elizabeth The Queen Mother: A Twentieth Century Life by Grania Forbes (finished): I found this at the library while waiting for Triss to be finished volunteering. The story of her early years, right through King George VI's reign is very interesting and well done. Once Elizabeth II comes to the throne, the story part of the book kind of becomes choppy. Lots of neat pictures. She was a remarkable woman.

A Landscape With Dragons by Michael D. O'Brien (finished)

Five of the Series of Unfortunate Events stories by Lemony Snicket (finished): I think I am done with the series too, although there are more books. He is a clever writer, but still, they are formulaic. Also, the books read like a chronicle of all the ways adults can let children down. You have the adult who is too preoccupied with work to see the trouble the kids are in, the adult who is too intimidated by other adults to rescue the children, the adult who is afraid of everything, the egomaniacal adult who only thinks of himself, the adults who mindlessly follow the crowd, etc., etc. The kids not only take care of themselves, they end up taking care of their adult caretakers as well.

The New World by Winston Churchill (in progress)

From Dawn to Decadence by Jacques Barzun (in progress-- I've made it through page 41.)

CM's Volume 3 (in progress)

Writing to Learn by Thomas Zinsser (in progress)

Three Cups of Tea by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin (in progress)

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Teaching of Chronology

I am narrating this Parent's Review article in the hopes that I will finally understand how to use a century chart. Perhaps it will help someone else if I post my narration here.

The article was written in 1910 by Miss Dorothea Beale, principal of Cheltenham Ladies College. In it she describes a method used in her college to teach chronology. Her method is mentioned as part of the work of students in Form IV, in CM's Volume 6, page 177.

We can all agree that young children learn history best when they are told the great stories of antiquity-- these stories provide a good foundation for further history studies and prevent children from growing into "Casaubons". (Casaubon was a scholarly older man in the novel Middlemarch by George Eliot. He was really very boring for a scholar of mythology and I don't know how his wife put up with him.)

On the other hand, it is also a good idea to start the child out with his or her own time and work backwards, helping the child to learn that what he or she does now is a part of history. This aids in the realization as the 'reflective powers' develop-- that the world is different for every person who lives, that noble lives make a difference. (She talks a little about the educational philosophy of Froebel, and not stimulating religious and moral feeling prematurely, but I am leaving that part out for now.)

An Educational Union is for helping parents and schools work together for the better education of the child. Therefore, she offers a way of teaching chronology that has been of benefit at the college level, but she expects will be even more beneficial in the home.

She introduces the Methode Mnemonique Polonaise. I didn't know what that was so I looked it up. According to this article, it is a memory method that uses symbolic pictures to remember things.

She recommends the method as a charming way to teach children chronological history, saying that kids will enjoy it because it is like hieroglyphics, and that it will help them to understand their own little sphere of life in proportion to the history that has gone on before.

Using diagrams to communicate is effective, often making things comprehensible at a glance. We can use diagrams to communicate about history, too, using 100 squares to a page, each square representing a year, thus.

The hundred years can represent the life of a man, or a century. It is better in the case of a child to use the hundred years to show the life of a man. This makes me think of the Genevieve Foster books. Ah, but this is not exactly what she means. She says it should stand for the hundred years of the child's life! The first square represents the first year of the child's life, the second square is for the year in which the child is one year old, the third square for the year the child is two, etc. The first line of squares gives the first decade of life, the second line gives the second dacade, etc.

She recommends making one of these charts for the life of the child as soon as he or she is able to understand it. (We have never done anything like this. I know the girls would love it.) She says to put it in a frame with a removable back so it can be updated, leaving a margin in which to write in anniversaries (the list of anniversaries appears to be something like a key for the symbols).

She describes one such chart, for a girl of fourteen. In the first square is a star to represent the new little life. The first fourteen squares are shaded in yellow to show how many years have passed so far. ("So teach me to number my days, that I may apply my heart unto wisdom." Now I get the quote at the beginning of the article. I wonder how a child would feel, seeing their years numbered in this way.) In the fourth square is another star, for the birth of her brother. The fifth square contains a black dot, indicating her grandfather's death. The next square has a symbol for her entering kindergarten-- a little plant just peeking out of the ground. A ship shows the year mother and father sailed for India, and another, sailing the opposite direction, shows their return a year later. At the age of ten, she enters school, and a symbol for that is drawn in the appropriate square, with a corresponding entry made in the margin. A little ceremony is made of entering the symbol on the chart, and a prayer made that she will learn things that will make her wise. The yellow line is extended on her birthday every year, and new events are added.

I want to quote the next sentence. I am not sure what she means by 'horoscope,' however, unless she just means a chart of a person's life. I cannot find that definition for 'horoscope', though. Perhaps someone can shed some light on it for me:

"I am sure parents will devise some very beautiful horoscopes which may take the place the those wonderful framed samplers of old times, which it will be a joy for their children to look at in later life, as they remember the birthday addition each year, the sorrows and the joys there noted down, the prayers of the family for each new-comer, and the marriage days."

What a sweet custom!

After using one of these charts for him or herself for awhile, the child will be ready to understand a century. She suggests representing a century as a man who dies as the last moment of the ninety-ninth year passes. The life of the queen can be entered into the century and related to the child's own life. The child can count backward to the year of the queen's birth, and then enter each of the queen's life happenings. (We could do this with U.S. Presidents, perhaps using their terms in office rather than their lifetimes.)

After these things are entered, it will be natural to continue by entering historical events into the chart, and going further and further back in history. Each life is intertwined with another, and biographical knowledge connects eras of history.

She says that beginning with the child's own 'nativity' helps the child better understand what history is, and his or her own place in it.

Once one century has been entered into the chart, she recommends presenting a diagram that contains the eighteen previous centuries (now we would present the twenty previous centuries) each characterized by some mark of individuality, thus.

After this, I think she begins detailing what they do at the college for learning chronology:

Later on, make a larger chart with room for writing in events. She says they color code each era of English history. The first line is Roman occupation, the second line the barbarian tribes settling into nations, the third line is the Middle Ages, and the fourth is the Modern period. (I am having a hard time picturing this, but I think the squares are each representing a century in this chart, and the lines would be ten squares each, or one thousand years? But that does not make sense. The modern period is approximately 1500-2000, which is only five hundred years. The High Middle Ages are around 1000-1500, roughly. Perhaps the lines representing eras are only five squares long. I am going to have to draw a picture for myself.)

At first, most importance should be given to English history (we would perhaps say the history of the English speaking peoples). Later on, we would gradually introduce history that is contemporary with the different events of English history. This method is especially beneficial to the children being educated at home, because the mother, who may not have the systematic knowledge of chronology that a teacher would be expected to have, can explain the events of history she is most familiar with at first, and the framework of the chart keeps everything in place even though events may not be presented in chronological order. (Excellent point!) It is important, but difficult, for kids to develop a proper sense of the chronology of history, as evidenced by their silly-seeming questions that simply reveal a lack of understanding: "Did you know that Pharaoh?" for instance. The mother or sister can tell stories from books of history they are reading, and fit the stories into the charts, and the children will have a better sense of the length of time in each chart because of their own personal century charts.

Then she gets into the actual paper-and-pencil work involved in this device. I was a little confused by this part, but will explain it the best I can. She wrote a book or something that goes into more detail, and I would like to read it. Or maybe it is a book that older kids can use to make the diagrams. She says that for small children, she gives them blank sheets of paper to paint and color in.

She describes a game that can be played on a chessboard, it looks like, with the kids using game pieces to mark the events for the squares. You can even use chess pieces to represent different people in history-- "small chessmen may stand for kings, chess castles for sieges, chess bishops for churchmen, knights for war, pawns for famous men."

For older students, they use books with large squares, in which the student simply writes in anything he/she wants to remember.

She gives a list of what she feels are the advantages of the system:

1. That it forms a framework, which from the first saves events from getting shaken into disorder in the memory: and the frame can be made large or small, filled but scantily at first, and gradually expanded.

2. It can be adapted to any purpose--political history, church history, literary history the progress of scientific discovery.

3. It shows at a glance the contemporary history of different countries, yet

4. It is compact in form, so that it can be easily remembered.

5. Even if the precise date of any event is not retained yet the general position becomes as familiar to the mind as the relative positions of places in a map of Europe.

Another quote:

'We have learned to feel that the chief work of the educator is not to give facts, but to order them so that they can fit into the "forms of thought."'

She ends with a reference to the story of Psyche, in which she is set the task of sorting innumerable seeds into some kind of order. She says that perhaps with patient discipline we will be able to place the 'seeds' of historic events into order-- patterns that make some kind of sense. (This idea of our study of history being akin to Psyche's task of sorting seeds will appeal to the kids.)

I have been drawing century charts myself since a thunderstorm disrupted my posting of this narration. I used events very familiar to me to make a chart of 1900-1999. When I look at it, with simple symbols in place of words, it does not help me a bit! It looks just like hieroglyphics to me, and I cannot read hieroglyphics. Even though I know the events on the chart, the symbols are still confusing. I know Miss Beale said sometimes students wrote words instead of symbols into their charts. That is what I would have to do. The idea of having a secret code that deciphers the charts might appeal to the children, though. I'm going to show them this way next week and perhaps we will play around with it a bit. The free time that summer brings leads to all kinds of play opportunities!

Friday, June 27, 2008

Summer Fun


I was invited to a circus this morning. (Free admission to those who have read good literature in the last month!) I went outside to take a look.


Thumper was already seated.


As soon as I found my seat, the ringmistress sang her song: "I want my own three-ring circus!"


The bear and...


...the elephant had a dancing contest.


Then came the acrobats!




And a magician!



Where'd it go?



The fortune teller gave her opinion on the future.


Another magician wowed me with cards. I did indeed ask for the seven of hearts! (She refused to divulge her secret.)


And the show finale, by the circus dancers!



After lunch we drove to the library and got to see these characters. They were hilarious!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Pray for California Firefighter Families

No prayer is made by man alone;
The Holy Spirit pleads...

I just received this from my aunt. Her son and son-in-law (my cousin and cousin-in-law) are both California firefighters. Please keep these brave men and women in your prayers as they fight back these fires in California, or wait for their loved ones to return home. (I apologize for all the ellipses, but I was trying to preserve some privacy.)

Our son-in-law ... left early this morning with a strike team ... to go up to the wild fire in Butte. He along with 3 other ... firefighters will go in on the front lines to help fight this huge wild fire. [Their] fire dept. already has two other strike teams there. Please keep [them in your prayers.]. Right now California has over 800 fires burning and most of those are from Monterey County to the Oregon border. Our son ... told us last night he will most likely be in the next group of firefighters from ... that will go. Most of these fires were caused from lightning strikes from a "Dry" thunderstorm we had last weekend. The hot weather we had caused the weird weather and we are suppose to have the same weather again this weekend so we could have more lightning strikes and more fires.

Again please keep all the firefighters and their families in your prayers. It is not easy on these families to see a loved one go into these fires and not hear from them for a week or longer.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Did You Know... can also call ladyfingers femina phalanges?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Scrapbook Update II

I spent tonight going through some loose photos I got from my parents for the album. Some highlights:

Katie's Two Great-Grandmothers 1969

My great-grandmothers on my dad's side (1969). I faintly remember them. Great-Grandmother I. (standing) used to let me sit by her at church. I loved to stroke her velvety soft, wrinkled hands.

Grandmommy and Katie 1970

This is my grandmother (Dad's mom) holding me when I was tee-niny. My dad was in Vietnam and my mother was living with my grandparents.

Granddad and Grandmommy 1972

Here are my grandparents a couple of years later. That is my two-year-old head in the lower right corner.

Christmas circa 1975?

Fast forward a few years-- this is my brother and me at my grandparents' house for Christmas. Can you believe all the stockings? My grandmother made one for every single member of the extended family.

Singing School circa 1976

California Singing School, which we attended every year. I think this picture was taken around 1976 or so. I am the one on the far right in the black-and-white checked micro-mini.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

In Hand

Crutches and pogo sticks are excellent tools in the quest for physical fitness.

Wise and Otherwise

She who always loved and lost the game...

has come from behind and beat us all!

(in Wise and Otherwise, that is. ;o)

There's an old Danish saying:

He who rises early will gather much birdsong.

He who rises early will gather much grain, and his food will lie good on his tongue.

He who rises early will gather many birds.

He who rises early will gather wisdom.

Which pithy saying is Mariel's winning answer, and which is the actual Danish proverb?

Friday, June 20, 2008

Scrapbook Update I

I mentioned in passing in a previous post that I am putting together a scrapbook of my parents' first four decades of life together. Last night I got the first nine pages done except for lettering and journalling and I am feeling a big sense of accomplishment as well as enthusiasm for the project! I am having a lot of fun putting together patterned and plain papers and making the colors and pictures tell the story.

I feel like a child with a new toy. The pages look so pretty I have to keep opening the book and enjoying them again. Why did I dread doing this?

I'm planning to put a lot of time into the project in the next two weeks, as I won't have as many outside obligations as usual. I want to hand-letter the titles and things, and that makes me pretty nervous, but I am following a friend's advice: "Just get things in the book. If you make a mistake you can always fix it or cover it, or even start over with new papers and new copies of the pictures."

The Lord keeps showing me that I haven't yet lost my (prideful) perfectionistic tendencies! I'm so thankful He continues to give me opportunities to rest in His mercy and grace, and simply do my best, matter-of-factly dealing with mistakes as they happen.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

The Uneasiness I Feel...

Nicholas Carr has nailed it:

And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

But I don't want to be efficient. I want to think:

In Google’s world, the world we enter when we go online, there’s little place for the fuzziness of contemplation. Ambiguity is not an opening for insight but a bug to be fixed. The human brain is just an outdated computer that needs a faster processor and a bigger hard drive.

Read the rest here.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Thoughts on Latin

I received Getting Started With Latin in the mail and Triss and I have looked it over. It looks like just my speed. Triss said she already knew all the grammar it contained, but some of the vocabulary was new.

A friend allowed me to borrow the first unit (book) of Cambridge Latin, along with the teacher's manual. The format looks exactly like what we want: two or more reading selections to translate from Latin to English, articles on Roman history, culture and artifacts (in English and with pictures) and a grammar lesson with exercises in each section. Plenty of reading and also grammar lessons. Triss looked it over and did some of the exercises and translating, and said she knew all the grammar in this first book as well, but not all of the vocabulary.

At this point I am very impressed with the foundation she has received from doing the first half of the first book of Latin for Children! The only thing missing from LFC is plenty of Latin reading and translation. It does contain history readers, but there is only one for each primer, and she has already completed the reader for Primer A. So here is the new plan:

1. I will learn the basics (just the basics) of Latin using Getting Started with Latin beginning this summer. This is so I will have a clue what she is talking about when she needs to confer with someone, and also so I can help my two youngers when their turns come.

2. She will continue doing the lessons in Latin for Children Primer A. I expect she will complete Primer A by next May or June. She will then begin Primer B.

3. She will use the free online readings and vocabulary quizzes for Cambridge Latin as a supplement to Latin for Children, and I will purchase the next two or three history readers in Latin for Children for her to translate this coming year as well.

4. For my two up-and-coming Latin scholars, I will continue using the Latin roots list contained in Grammar Songs until we have exhausted it, and then hold off on anything more. I plan to start Mariel in Latin for Children when she is twelve, which will be a year and a half from now. I'm not sure what I will do with Cornflower, but I know I won't start her in a dedicated Latin program until at least age ten.

Now I don't have to buy another curriculum. Whew. I definitely prefer using what we have.

And I want to take this opportunity to praise God for His provision. He has placed friends in my path who had just what I needed when I began to think through our Latin situation. I was able to hold in my hand a couple of different curriculums, discuss options and articulate more clearly what Triss and I were looking for, and was blessed with an online list that overflowed with help when I asked about Latin. And then He guided me to think things through in order to stay within the limits He has given our family. I praise the Lord for that. I thank Him for being interested in the small things that loom so large to us. His guidance and providence is a blessing.

Rigor or Challenge?

I am really bad about using a word without knowing its exact definition. I tend to go with my 'sense' of a word rather than looking it up in the dictionary.

I have heard the word 'rigorous' used as a description of something to be desired in the homeschool a lot recently. I keep feeling jarred when it is used. I guess my sense of the word 'rigorous' just doesn't fit what I want for my kids. And yet I don't want them to slack and slide through life the easy way. I want them to do hard things. What bothers me about the word 'rigorous'? I decided to look it up.

One definition of 'rigorous' is 'full of rigors.' 'Rigor' can be defined as 'a harsh or trying circumstance. '

Synonyms for 'rigor' include: burdensome, onerous, oppressive, arduous...

I think sometimes we use the term 'rigorous' when we really mean 'challenging. ' 'Challenging' is defined as "calling for full use of one's abilities or resources in a difficult but stimulating effort" or "absorbing; intriguing". AO/HEO definitely provides an educational challenge, but I don't consider it a harsh one. I want my kids to have to use all of their abilities in school, but I don't want to beat them down with it. To me, 'rigor' is too strong a word to indicate what we do at our house. 'Challenge' fits just right, but perhaps it has been overused.

(My definitions came from )

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Darkish Light Reading

In the interest of full disclosure ("full disclosure" here means "even telling the bits that other folks might not approve of") I would like to say that the children and I have been devouring the Series of Unfortunate Events books the last few days.

They're funny.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Has It Been Thirty Seconds?

Scientific studies have shown conclusively that within thirty seconds of watching television, a viewer enters a measurable trancelike state. This allows the material being shown to bypass the critical faculty so that images and ideas are absorbed by the mind without conscious reflection.

--Michael D. O'Brien, A Landscape With Dragons

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Random, Dude

Back safe, home again!

We had a relaxing time at Singing School.

Triss learned two new words: 'random' and 'dude'.

As in, "That was random!" and "Dude!"

'Dude' is actually quite versatile. It can mean:

"That hurt,"
"Watch where you are going,"
"I am glad to see you,"
"What an amazing insight,"
"It is very kind of you to give me candy,"
"That was an incredibly uplifting experience,"

and a host of other things depending on inflection, facial expression and body language.

'Random' means, well, random.

If you stare at it long enough, it looks like it doesn't mean anything.

Triss has a post on some of what we have been doing since we got back. Funny, she left out the bit about mountains of laundry.

Saturday, June 07, 2008


Well, I know that at least one person has been following our packing progress for Singing School (Hi, Jubilee!) and I didn't want to leave you hanging.

We are almost entirely packed. We even found poles, stakes and leggings that threatened not to come with us. We never did get the tents set up, but they are all back in their bags and ready to go.

Everyone has pretty dresses. :o)

We have had a grand time with our friends thus far. I haven't heard Mariel giggle this much in ages.

Back in a week!

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Packing Progress Post V

Well, we got the robe situation resolved. The Queen clued me in to some alternate wardrobe choices and the upshot of it is that Triss will wear a robe she already has that is around knee length, with a longer nightgown peeking out the bottom (she is opposed to sleep pants). Triss is extremely satisfied with this solution. I am happy too because it means no robe shopping tomorrow.

Triss and Mariel mowed the lawn for us this morning, and we collected everyone's clothes. I intended to do some ironing, but never got to it. I had a lot of phone calls today for some reason.

After the lawns were done, Triss got the tents down and tried to set them up in 50-55 mph winds. Not an easy thing to do. She got the little two-man tent set up, then started on the big tent, but the wind kept catching it. It looked like it might blow over the fence, so we brought it in. I think we are just going to assume the tent will go up fine at singing school. I cannot believe these winds-- they have been blowing for at least two or three days. The wind actually blew the two-man tent over our fence into the street! The kids wanted to camp out in the backyard tonight, but there is a tornado watch so we had to say no.

My mom arrived at our house just in time to see the tent blowing away, so we were able to rescue it. She treated me to a lovely pedicure just because she is such a loving mother. (Thanks, Mom! It was sooo relaxing!) So now I have beautiful tootsies. I don't even have to look at them to enjoy them-- I can just think about them being down there all polished and pretty, and feel good. I get even more enjoyment out of it because I am dismal at polishing my own nails. (Mr. Honey says it is silly to take so much pleasure in toenail polish, and I cannot explain myself. But I do like having dressy toes!)

In other news, we have been keeping to our summer half-schedule this week in spite of packing for singing school. Today Triss took a pre-algebra diagnostic test to see what she ought to review this summer before beginning Algebra I. She only missed one problem, yay, so she doesn't have to deal with math until August sometime, when we will redo the diagnostic and make sure all the concepts stuck through the summer.

Not only that, but Mariel got 100% on her math today and got to treat us all to Sonic Happy Hour! Thanks, Mariel!

Tomorrow is crunch day. We will do some shopping to fill in a couple of clothing gaps, buy groceries for the weekend and take Cornflower for her allergy shots. Then we each need to iron any of our dresses that don't meet the 'ten minute test'. This is an ironing test that I learned when I used to attend La Leche League meetings: You look at each wrinkled item and decide whether or not it would look like that anyway after ten minutes of wearing. If it would, you call it ready-to-wear. If it is more wrinkled than that, you need to iron it.

So that is the singing school packing update for today. I hope I'm not boring anyone too much!

Wednesday, June 04, 2008


Me: I've decided I need to learn to read Latin this summer.

Triss: You need to learn to relax?

Me: I need to learn to read Latin. There's a difference!

Packing Progress Post IV

We got Mariel's and Cornflower's room decluttered a bit. I went through their clothes and now know what they have-- it looks like all we need are new flip-flops. We also made quite a good harvest of Legos and hair bands!

I thought Javamom would enjoy this picture of the sweet linen dress she and her daughter passed down to us. It fits Mariel perfectly! Mariel added the collar and her straw hat.

Speaking of dresses-- now that I know what we have, it is time to get out the ironing board. Tomorrow we will get our clothes in order for singing school!

Triss is very excited and has already packed quite a few of her things. I am going to ask her to set up the two tents in the backyard so we can make sure that we have everything we need.

The girls are baking Snickerdoodles for the neighbors this afternoon. They are moving, and have always been very kind when Thumper the rabbit has gone into their yard.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Packing Progress Post III

Yesterday we did some preliminary shopping and I made lists and a menu for this week and weekend. We went to six different stores looking for a Triss-robe but found nothing pleasing. We are going to try again on Friday. I have one she can borrow, but it is old-ladyish. We have agreed that she will take that one if we just cannot come up with anything else.

I should have made her a robe.

We did not get to Mariel's and Cornflower's room. That is high on the agenda today. I haven't gone through their clothes and shoes in awhile and am unsure of what they have. Our shopping trip yesterday was punctuated with small assertions of need which I have yet to verify. Some of these items may turn up when we go through things today.

We aren't planning on going anywhere, although I have two piano students coming this afternoon-- and the kids are expecting their favorite Spanish teacher. ;o)

A Hero

Greater love hath no man than this.

An excerpt:

All of America's men and women in uniform today are volunteers, and they have answered the call knowing they may be put in harm's way. "Supporting the troops" has become a mantra in our politics, but the true heroism of our soldiers goes beyond the slogans and politics to countless individual acts of courage under fire. At the moment it mattered, in a war worth fighting, Ross McGinnis honored America's finest traditions and our own better natures.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Packing Progress Post II

I made a lot of lists this afternoon.

Math Story

(Written by Cornflower)

Cornflower: 9 kids were playing. 8 went home. How many were left?

Triss: One lonely little girl.

Packing Progress Post I

This is the beginning of a week-long series on packing for Singing School. I have been packing for singing school every summer for eleven years, and my enthusiasm is on the wane. I thought blogging the process might increase my enjoyment of it, as well as being a nice slice of life series for the kids to read when they are older.

Next Sunday, we head to the first of two Singing Schools we attend each year. At Singing School we camp as families and attend classes on how to sing as a church congregation. We also receive instruction in songleading and enjoy a week of fellowship with friends, some of whom we don't see at any other time of the year.

So that is why we are pulling things out of the attic and washing and ironing and packing.

I actually began on Saturday, when I went into the attic to find our pump for Mariel. (She needed it to inflate her wading pool.) While I was up there, I located the big tent, the little tent, the hot plate and the toiletry totes. (And the pump, of course. This is needed for our inflatable mattresses.)

A lot of folks at Singing School camp in very comfortable RVs, trailers, pop-up campers, etc. A few of us sleep in tents. Last year we shared a lovely shaded campsite near the playgrounds with some friends, and we hope to get the same site this year.

Today my to-do list includes finding a below-the-knee robe for Triss, some hair bows for Cornflower and purchasing batteries and other necessaries. I may just purchase ribbon and make Cornflower some bows. I will need to find my glue gun and glue sticks. Hmm.

We also need to organize all the treasures in Cornflower's and Mariel's room. We have friends coming to stay with us this weekend on their way to Singing School. I don't want them to trip over anything while they are here.

I know as soon as the kids get up, they will be pulling things out of their drawers and closets and starting their Singing School piles. I need to decide where the piles may sit for the week.

I have the laundry pretty well caught up at this point-- I made sure to work on that this weekend. But no ironing done. I know it seems silly to do ironing when you are going camping, but there is a dress code we need to follow at singing school. We bring modest, casual clothes for the daytime, and simple, modest dresses for the evening. At my house, that stuff needs ironing. I don't fold the clothes straight out of the dryer like I probably should.

As you can imagine, four ladies times five days of two outfits each equals a lot of clothing. I usually skimp on myself since I am not playing hard all day, and only bring one outfit for most of the days, with a couple of extra changes for the day or two when I feel really grungy from the heat. There is no air conditioning at singing school and the temps are usually in the upper eighties to upper nineties. Thunderstorms and humidity also add to the necessity of clothing changes.

It doesn't sound like a lot of fun, does it? But it is strangely delightful. I cannot explain.