31 December, 2011

Last Day of 2011

Is this New Year's Eve?? It's 73 degrees outside, and sunny!
Oh, and the birds are very active!

Happy New Year's Eve, my friends :-)


19 December, 2011

One of my hobbies...

As we move through December, I noticed how behind I have gotten on my blog. Blame it on teaching a couple more classes than I have in a couple of years, or on the fact that Facebook has become my one-stop info source.

It has been a busy Autumn, with two weddings in the family, one of which I photoraphed in its entirety. THAT was a good time :-).

On to my hobby: observing birds through a camera lens. I've been doing this for two-three years now, and I have learned so many little things.

We've seen new visitors to the feeders in the last few days, like these American Goldfinches. These are the most we've had at once...they seem to have descended upon us like never before, and it is exciting! I love nature study and have come to love birding in a way that I never imagined.

So in between Spanish class prep and grading, crafting, a little shopping, and prepping for Christmas, this is what keeps me busy.

What critters are you noticing in your neck of the woods?


25 October, 2011

Our only student left! AJ's schedule

Our last child, DS AJ, is a junior and we are basically doing most of HEO year 10 . I have taught a course in American Lit a couple of times now, with my own kids and a few other hs students along for good discussion. That tends to steal from the typical HEO recommendations and rotations from both years 10 and 11. We have to adjust for that, but I have made adjustment to AmblesideOnline ever since we first began it back in the late 90's.

We are looking into purchasing "The Lost Tools of Writing" to help our last child with writing. I'll let you know how that turns out. We may yet keep things simple for him, or we may decide to dive right in to better, deeper methods on a simple level, which is what he needs right now.

History Spine for this year:
Our oldest two students, now long-graduated and married, used Paul Johnson's History of the American People. Our now college freshman read through the Clarence B. Carson set, A History of the United States, for his American History Spine. So, we are trying Churchill with our youngest. He is a junior, but we have rearranged his history for several reasons, one being the American Lit. class issue that I've already mentioned.

We did American Lit last year. Hubby teaches American Lit, so I love to present that subject in chronological order, different from HEO, so that I can have Hubby's input and discussion in our classes, as well.

We saved Moby Dick for this year, didn't require it of him in American Lit last year. His big brother read it, but he was ready for it, AJ was not at the time. Hubby also wants him to read Great Gatsby, which is scheduled in Yr. 11 of HEO.

Our main Shakespeare play for the year is "As You Like It" but Hubby wants us to add one more to the rotation. Maybe it will be Hamlet, and we can use Peter Leithart's study book, _Brightest Heaven of Invention_.

DS will keep reading through _The History of English Lit for boys and girls_. This is one of his favorite books of all the AO/HEO recommendations.

Zinsser "On Writing" or may get "Lost Tools of Writing" and go deep to see what he is capable of, since AJ grasped things later than our other students/children.

DS will also be reading "Ourselves" by Charlotte Mason to cover citezenship, along with One Blood by Ken Ham and Sesame and Lilies by John Ruskin

Pinpoint places about which we read on a map
also may read Eothen (a travel journal)
We have maps which we bought in New England when we visited there. We will point things out from this year as we come across them, such as Winslow Homer's home(s), Nathaniel Hawhtorne's home, Louisa May Alcott's home(s), Emerson's Home, etc.

The Law (1848) by Frederic Bastiat

Foreign Language:
DS has studied two years of Spanish, but I'd like to draw him into more conversation and stories. He is still a resistant, reluctant student with learning/processing issues, so I have to present enriching ideas for him to grasp hold and take off. That is difficult to stay the course with this one. I lose heart far too often.

We'll watch the video series "How Should We Then Live" by Francis Schaeffer to help ease the reading burden on ds. I am also planning on reading _Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave_ along with him and disussing.

We may read Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde. Not sure if we should add two more books to his reading schedule. Will see how things go. All our other kids read these, plus _The Deadliest Monster_ by Jeff Baldwin, a sort of study guide, but an essay in and of itself for the aforementioned books. Our oldest two read this when they were in year 8 and year 10, respectively.

I love the Emerson Essays. We have already read some in American Lit last year. I will have AJ read more, including the LONGER Nature essay. There are two Nature essays. I think HEO still scheduled the very short essay. The longer one is much, much better, IMHO, and in my teacher-Hubby's opinion. He has taught American Lit for 20 years. The American Scholar is phenomenal, and one which we read last year. Oldest kids read it, as well. So I'll have AJ read "Art" this year, since we didn't cover that one last year.

We are going to add a few books by Wendell Berry, as he seems to be a modern-day, Christian Thoreau in whom my husband and I are becoming very, very interested. Hubby is not your typical Christian, evangelical hs dad. He is not a replublican! (lol) and I am more of a tea party person, myself...though I still hesitate to identify with them, because the Tea Party encompasses a broad spectrum of folks and ideologies.

Consumer Math (we suspect dysgraphia with this student, so we don't expect any miracles toward Algebra I or II and beyond...that is also a real problem I have, so have swapped the teaching of Maths--with other families, Moms--for Spanish teaching {which I *love* and am good at, if I do say so myself, lol!} in years past with all our other, older three kids, all now graduated).

Budgeting and books by Larry Burkett, Ron (I think) Paris, others

I hope to work on _How to Read a Book_ with AJ. He has not read any of this, yet, unlike our older kids, who read this much earlier in their schooling.

Fearfully and Wonderfully Made (probably the DVD instead of the book for this particular student)
The Gift of Pain by the same author

Six Easy Pieces by Richard P. Feynmen
Bio on Albert Einstein, and DVD documentaries

Nature Study:
We've already read _Walden_ and been to Walden Pond, so we will read some John Muir
and work on nature photography, probably study Ansel Adams again. AJ was too young last time we studied him.

The following are not this year's AO/HEO recommendations completely, because we are studying these with a few others, as well as at home.

We've already been working on Billy Collins and just started William Wordsworth. To these, I will add Emily dickinson and John Greenleaf Whittier for the year

Artist/Picture Study:
An in-depth look at Winslow Homer
Norman Rockwell,
and Vincent Van Gogh

Artistic Pursuits
The Arts by Hendrick Van Loon

Composer Study:
Chopin this term
The Russian composers next term

Music History:
300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture by Professor Carol

Hymn Signing:
Yes! and Tonic Solfa study, as well
Dear Lord and Father of Mankind by John Greenleaf Whittier (just one of several)

Recitations and Copywork:
sections/speeches from Shakespeare
poems that we are studying this year
Bible verses in English and Spanish

Folk Songs this term:
Aiken Drum
Carick Fergus
De Colores

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde (we will watch it, instead of reading it)
a second Shakespeare (haven't decided which one yet)

Free Reading:
The House of Seven Gables by Nathaniel Hawthorne (We have the added bonus of having visited Hawthorne's hometown, his home in Concord, and Seven Gables, so this may help!)
Little Men (AJ never read it earlier in AO b/c he didn't fully learn to read until he was older, now he reads quite well, but it is not his favorite thing to do)
Hard Times by Charles Dickens
P.G. Wodehouse stories (may simply watch some)
G. K. Chesterton
and MAYBE a Sir Walter Scott novel.

And of course, we will be working on basic life skills, such as changing tires, changing oil, building simple things, helping with home and car maintainence, cooking, etc. He keeps his room very tidy.

It has taken me long enough to share this, but I just gave the schedule another tweak this week, so it wasn't really ready to share, just yet!

I've also been quite busy prepping other classes, Spanish I and II, Artist/Picture Study, and poetry, just to name a few!

The older I get, the slower I seem to be at posting details, LOL.

How is your schoolyear going, my dear, quiet readers? Let me know!


13 October, 2011

A Night Piece

Hunter's Moon October 2011

A Night Piece

by William Wordsworth

composed 1798, published 1815

--The sky is overcast

With a continuous cloud of texture close,

Heavy and wan, all whitened by the Moon,

Which through that veil is indistinctly seen,

A dull, contracted circle, yielding light

So feebly spread, that not a shadow falls,

Chequering the ground--from rock, plant, tree, or tower

At length a pleasant instantaneous gleam

Startles the pensive traveller while he treads

His lonesome path, with unobserving eye

Bent earthwards; he looks up--the clouds are split

Asunder,--and above his head he sees

The clear Moon, and the glory of the heavens.

There, in a black-blue vault she sails along,

Followed by multitudes of stars, that, small

And sharp, and bright, along the dark abyss

Drive as she drives: how fast they wheel away,

Yet vanish not!--the wind is in the tree,

But they are silent;--still they roll along

Immeasurably distant; and the vault,

Built round by those white clouds, enormous clouds,

Still deepens its unfathomable depth.

At length the Vision closes; and the mind,

Not undisturbed by the delight it feels,

Which slowly settles into peaceful calm,

Is left to muse upon the solemn scene.

Placed by Wordsworth among his "Poems of the Imagination" printed in the "Lyrical Ballads"

18 September, 2011

September Garden

Our first watermelon!

We were able to keep most of our garden hydrated enough to survive Texas's hottest summer on record. This is one of our watermelons that we noticed this week, growing outside the fencing of our garden!

Here is a quartet of canteloupe that I photographed about a week ago...

It has taken advantage of the extra growing space on the fence around the garden.

Here they are today ~ getting a little more ripe!

Eggplant blossoms!

A couple of canteloupe that I picked this morning.

This one is one of the large ones that have grown this summer. One thing about our 100 degree plus temperatures: canteloupe seem to thrive in it! But so do the weeds, with all our irrigation.

It was too hot for too long for our seven tomato plants to even set blossoms this summer. One of our larger tomato plants completely dried up and died. The rest have struggled to stay alive, but also to make a comeback, but come back, they have! I saw lots of blossoms out there this morning.

Next, I need to concentrate on our pepper plants and give them a good feeding with Howard Garrett's liquid molasses plant concoction. I will shoot some photos of them later.

How does your garden grow? Are any of you planting a fall garden now? I have misplaced most of our seeds whilst getting things organized for the new schoolyear. But I will be replanting more cool-weather greens as soon as I find those seeds!


11 September, 2011

The Names by Billy Collins - In memorium 9 11

The Names
Billy Collins

Yesterday, I lay awake in the palm of the night.
A soft rain stole in, unhelped by any breeze,
And when I saw the silver glaze on the windows,
I started with A, with Ackerman, as it happened,
Then Baxter and Calabro,
Davis and Eberling, names falling into place
As droplets fell through the dark.
Names printed on the ceiling of the night.
Names slipping around a watery bend.
Twenty-six willows on the banks of a stream.
In the morning, I walked out barefoot
Among thousands of flowers
Heavy with dew like the eyes of tears,
And each had a name --
Fiori inscribed on a yellow petal
Then Gonzalez and Han,
Ishikawa and Jenkins.
Names written in the air
And stitched into the cloth of the day.
A name under a photograph taped to a mailbox.
Monogram on a torn shirt,
I see you spelled out on storefront windows
And on the bright unfurled awnings of this city.
I say the syllables as I turn a corner --
Kelly and Lee,
Medina, Nardella, and O'Connor.
When I peer into the woods,
I see a thick tangle where letters are hidden
As in a puzzle concocted for children.
Parker and Quigley in the twigs of an ash,
Rizzo, Schubert, Torres, and Upton,
Secrets in the boughs of an ancient maple.
Names written in the pale sky.
Names rising in the updraft amid buildings.
Names silent in stone
Or cried out behind a door.
Names blown over the earth and out to sea.
In the evening -- weakening light, the last swallows.
A boy on a lake lifts his oars.
A woman by a window puts a match to a candle,
And the names are outlined on the rose clouds --
Vanacore and Wallace,
(let X stand, if it can, for the ones unfound)
Then Young and Ziminsky, the final jolt of Z.
Names etched on the head of a pin.
One name spanning a bridge, another undergoing a tunnel.
A blue name needled into the skin.
Names of citizens, workers, mothers and fathers,
The bright-eyed daughter, the quick son.
Alphabet of names in a green field.
Names in the small tracks of birds.
Names lifted from a hat
Or balanced on the tip of the tongue.
Names wheeled into the dim warehouse of memory.
So many names, there is barely room on the walls of the heart.

23 August, 2011

Winslow Homer Timeline

I have been selecting art prints to teach this fall in an Art Study (aka via Charlotte Mason "Picture Talk") Class. I spent hours at my favorite used bookstore about three weeks ago (with my married daughter and with friends, of course!) perusing dozens of art books to choose for my background research. It has been years since I taught Winslow Homer in our homeschool. I purchased two books of Homer, two books of Van Gogh, and one new, large book of Norman Rockwell to fill out the 2011-2012 schoolyear.

(Snap the Whip - probably Homer's most popular, well-known painting)

Since then, I have also spent a good deal of time researching prints online, to help choose from different time periods of Homer's work, but also to compare the different media he used over the course of his artistic career. I like to find the obscure works, or the lesser known and find the stories behind them. I am odd that way ;-). Though, finding works from the beginning, middle, and latter part of an artist's career is what Charlotte Mason recommended. For my part, I have been both enriched and enlightened!

Many may know that he began as an apprentice learning how to make lithographic illustrations. He studied with John H. Buford of Boston. Then he did some freelance work before moving to New York, where he began working for Harper's Weekly doing illustrations of the Civil War. How many of you know the rest of his story?

I stumbled upon this chronology at the National Gallery of Art website, which includes thumbnail prints of his work, with a brief timeline of his life to the right. Once you click on one of the small prints, it opens up a new window with more information. What a treasure of concise and visual information! Almost better than a book. ALMOST!

I also happened upon a lecture by Peter H. Wood, author of the book Near Andersonville. His book is about a print of Homer's that was lost for about 100 years, how it was discovered, and what Civil War -related meanings exist throughout the seemingly simple painting. I am thrilled to have found this information. Now my husband and I both want this book on the shelves of our home library. (He is an American Lit. teacher and a Homer fan, too).
What are my fellow readers and friends studying in the arts this first term of the new schoolyear? Answer on either FB or the blog link! I really want to hear!

Ciao for now,


01 August, 2011

~ August ~

by James Whitcomb Riley

A day of torpor in the sullen heat
Of Summer's passion: In the sluggish stream
The panting cattle lave their lazy feet,
With drowsy eyes, and dream.

Long since the winds have died, and in the sky
There lives no cloud to hint of Nature's grief;
The sun glares ever like an evil eye,
And withers flower and leaf.

Upon the gleaming harvest-field remote
The thresher lies deserted, like some old
Dismantled galleon that hangs afloat
Upon a sea of gold.

The yearning cry of some bewildered bird
Above an empty nest, and truant boys
Along the river's shady margin heard--
A harmony of noise--

A melody of wrangling voices blent
With liquid laughter, and with rippling calls
Of piping lips and thrilling echoes sent
To mimic waterfalls.

And through the hazy veil the atmosphere
Has draped about the gleaming face of Day,
The sifted glances of the sun appear
In splinterings of spray.

The dusty highway, like a cloud of dawn,
Trails o'er the hillside, and the passer-by,
A tired ghost in misty shroud, toils on
His journey to the sky.

And down across the valley's drooping sweep,
Withdrawn to farthest limit of the glade,
The forest stands in silence, drinking deep
Its purple wine of shade.

The gossamer floats up on phantom wing;
The sailor-vision voyages the skies
And carries into chaos everything
That freights the weary eyes:

Till, throbbing on and on, the pulse of heat
Increases--reaches--passes fever's height,
And Day sinks into slumber, cool and sweet,
Within the arms of Night.

27 July, 2011

God Meets Us In The Garden

"Where earth and spirit mix, God and man meet."

This is a quote from one of my new favorite authors, Vigen Gourian. I was blessed to get to see/hear him speak in person and buy some of his books. I say "see and hear" because he is fun to watch speak, quiet with animated, happy facial expressions. But he can also be firey if he feels he needs to be!

Another good quote: "We are created in the image of the Master Gardener."

This being so, we can take in the full delights in our gardens as the Lord delights in his creation, and in us.

This was after I cleared out most of the aged, squash-bug infested squash plants in early July. Now the cantaloupe plants and watermelon plants have plenty of room to stretch out.

In this shot, you can see how the extreme, constant 100 plus temps are affecting the garden.

Notice how the cantaloupe has trailed up and across the fencing.

These cherry tomatoes sprung up on there own. I let them continue to grow just in case. What a delightful surprise!

The cantaloupe are LOVING this crazy, constant, dry heat.

This was last weekend. I picked the ripe one on Monday and the other one ripened by Tuesday eve.

washing and rinsing ~


Some of our early July harvest

Cantaloupe picked between 7/23-7/26

Have you met God in the garden recently? It restores the soul. But if you are a gardener, you are already keenly aware of that!

Happy Harvesting,


25 July, 2011

Art & Music History Blog

I wanted to recommend a blog called Circle of Scholars:Discovering Music with Professor Carol. I just found this after meeting (and singing with!) Carol and her husband at the CiRCE Institute Conference themed "What is Man?"

You need to see how she has combined art with music, along with the story of the works about which she is writing. Her passion simply oozes out of the very center of her being. I am almost speechless at the treasure, so I will simply leave it at that, and encourage you to go explore it. Go on! Right now! Meet me back here for more discussion, if you like :-).

Can you tell what we will be adding to our sources in our homeschool this fall? Yes, even though I have only one left in 'official' school. I also bought Carol's work, "Discovering Music: 300 Years of Interaction in Western Music, Arts, History, and Culture."


24 July, 2011

And is it so!

Just sharing today what a group of us were asked to sing at a Classical Ed. Conference this past weekend. What an honor.

And is it so! I shall be like Thy Son
(sung to the tune of Abide With Me)

And is it so! I shall be like Thy Son?
Is this the grace which He for me has won?
Father of glory—thought beyond all thought!
In glory, to His own blest likeness brought!

Oh, Jesus, Lord, who loved me like to Thee?
Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
Myself the prize and travail of Thy soul.

Yet it must be: Thy love had not its rest
Were Thy redeemed not with Thee fully blest;
That love that gives not as the world, but shares
All it possesses with its loved co-heirs.

Nor I alone; Thy loved ones, all complete
In glory, round Thee there with joy shall meet
All like Thee, for Thy glory like Thee, Lord,
Object supreme of all, by all adored.Source:

26 June, 2011

Tomato plant care 6-25-11

A friend recently asked some details about tomatoes, so I am sharing these photos with her in mind. The summer is flying by and I started this post about tying / staking up tomatoes a month ago! These plants have more than doubled in size now. However, it has been a busy summer, with lots of hands-on care needed in the garden, and lots of reading, study, and decluttering the house in my 'free-er' time, to get ready for the fall school term.

We use jute or twine to 'weave' among the stakes between each tomato plant.

Next, we wind the twine around the stake and tie it (no knot, though, unless needed. These wooden stakes hold the twine just fine, no slippage) before stretching it on to the next stake.

The twine gently supports the branches of the tomato plant, providing some 'give' as it grows outward and upward.

You will notice how the plants have grown in my next post about the whole garden in general!

I wish the garden was larger, but this is an extremely hot year to try and keep it alive and growing. In fact, it has been too hot for some of our tomato plants to set their blossoms.

Hope you are enjoying summer tomatoes from your own (or a friend's) garden this summer!
There's just no comparison to grocery store tomatoes.


12 June, 2011

Green (tomatillo) Enchilada Sauce

We like both green and red sauces on our open and stacked (not cooked in a cake pan in the oven) enchiladas. I just realized this weekend how easy it would be to grow, mix, and can our own sauce. Unfortunately, we did NOT plant tomatillos this year! Now I've planned to buy seeds to plant in our fall garden, to give this a try.

Here's a basic recipe, for those who have already asked.

5 jalapeño peppers
1/2 lbs of tomatillos (green husk tomato)

Peel and rinse the tomatillos. Boil the tomatillos along with the jalapeño peppers in a pot of water for about 7 minutes; they will become slightly soft. Remove the stems from the Jalapeños.
In a blender, place cooked tomatillos, jalapeños, salt and about 1/4 of a cup of the chicken stock; blend well. If the sauce is too thick, add more of the chicken stock. The sauce should has a consistency of soup.



07 June, 2011

Where are They Now?

Sometimes I think it is so strange that I have adult children! I must simply be in denial of my own age ;-). I've decided to blog a "Where are they now?" post, for any of my followers who are wondering why I don't post much about homeschooling anymore.

Well, we have three homeschooled graduates now. Our oldest is married and is racing and building bicycles. He has followed his passion. He met his dear wife at our old church home. They were married by their youth pastor. She is attending college and is an incredible artist.

Here he is, working at the bike shop ~

And racing (what a beast)

That's him at #2

#1 -- he ended up finishing 5th in his age group! This was just one pack of riders.

DC #2 met her hubby in my high school Spanish class at one of our local homeschool co-ops.

They have been married for over a year now, and just got back from (yet another) nature adventure, this time it's not Iceland, but several national parks in the Pacific Northwest. He is a stellar photographer and she loves cooking and nutrition.

DC #3 is staying local for the time being and will be attending college close to home. He is interested in sports training and nutrition.

So that leaves us with just one left to homeschool.

some of his favorite hobbies

visiting the big siblings up north

They are all so similar and yet so unique! But also, the more things change, the more they stay the same ;-).

DC #1, 2, and 3, at the beginning of our homeschooling journey

Hubby and I used to long-distance cycle, so yes, he is wearing compression pants, even then!

Our family ~ Christmas 2010

We are thankful for the blessings, for the freedom to homeschool and to raise them to the beat of a different drummer.


p.s. How are your families growing along the way? I am blessed to know some wonderful homeschool families, and have enjoyed watching their kids grow, and even getting to teach some of their children Spanish or American Lit!