Thanks to Melanie, our hostess.
I tried to take notes by the day, in my handy-dandy planner, and I made up until Thursday of last week, so I'm just going to attempt to summarize by subject.
We've been continuing our daily Mass readings, along with the meditation from One Bread, One Body, a Catholic devotional booklet with a teaching based on the day's readings.We happen to use this, instead of Magnificat or any other of the fine devotionals out there, because my dad is one of the editors of One Bread, One Body, and has been for many years, and often if it states at the bottom of the page that the teaching was submitted by a member of the editorial team, there's a pretty good chance that Dad wrote it. So we learn more about scripture, and we feel close to Grandpa on days when we're reading his reflection on scripture.
Some people in this house feel that they've moved beyond reading their religion books, because they already know everything in them; these people would be well advised, then, to know the answers to the questions at the end of the chapter when Mother quizzes them.
Religion classes at church started this week; I'm writing up my reflections on teaching 6th grade religion class (yes, I'm a catechist this year) elsewhere.
Still Khan Academy, but we had multiplication drill this week because come on, people.
Ah, my favorite. Jane Eyre is a big hit, and Mr. Brocklehurst a satisfying villain. The kids follow along well and are keen to spot the hypocrisy of the Misses Brocklehurst in their plumage and finery touring shabby Lowood. Jane is a great favorite with the girls -- Julia is ready to paint a Jane Eyre doll.
Reading it out loud causes me to pick up on new bits of the story I'd never noticed before, such as Mr. Brocklehurst forgetting the darning needles and then complaining a second later that the stockings are all in bad repair, or how young Jane exults in wild, romantic landscapes and the lonely howling of the wind -- the kind of atmosphere she will meet later, at Thornton. Today we read the death of Helen, and I had to stop because I was all choked up. It's so simply and effectively done.
The girls finished independently reading Njall's Saga this week. (Eleanor's summary: "A bunch of people killed each other, and his wife didn't give him hair for a bow string.") On to William the Conqueror! I quote the driest bit of history from Alice in Wonderland all the time: "In 1066, William the Conqueror..." The kids really could care less. Perhaps we should do an in-depth study of the Bayeux Tapestry, since needle arts apparently have the ability to move where all other erudition fails. I even pulled out Alice in Wonderland to read about William the Conqueror there, and discovered that all these years, I've been quoting it wrong. "William the Conqueror, whose cause was favored by the Pope..." Where did I get the 1066? At least it's accurate, and if nothing else, the kids know the correct date.
Julia is on a painted peg doll kick, and I just bought her a bunch of blanks. A bright idea occured: "Julia, what if we painted dolls for history? You could make Charlemagne, and William the Conqueror, and we could research their clothes..."
"Would I still have to read the history?" she demanded.
This goes apace. People like spelling this year, a welcome change from the past I-don't-know-how-long. The girls are working hard and memorizing their words, and taking it as a challenge when they get one wrong, instead of an occasion to collapse in sobs or sulks. We're using an old Calvert spelling book that was my sister's; perhaps it has the right feeling of authority. Isabel is inspired by the older girls and is keeping a spelling notebook too.
I like this part too, where we learn about adverb phrases and complex sentences and how language fits together. (Also, I just learned -- just learned! -- that when you write the plural of a letter or a number, you use an apostrophe: A's, 3's. All these years I thought that was incorrect. The more you know!) I am noticing better sentences from the young pupils since I've sat with them every day over Voyages in English and made them answer every practice exercise orally and complete every writing prompt.
We joined the Drama Club at the local Catholic school! This warms the cockles of my drama-major heart so much. The girls love it. In the fall, Drama Club is basically acting class, with a number of exercises I remember from my own acting class days, culminating in scenes at the end of the semester, and in the spring they do a play. The group is 6th-8th graders, and the girls have friends in the group, and everything is awesome.
Organ starts this week. Cue whining about practicing in 3, 2, 1...
The thing is, I wish I had all this time to play music now. Ever since Betty Duffy and I made music, I've been itching to be musical again. I dusted off (literally) my copy of Rhapsody in Blue and am getting almost proficient on the first few pages, even when it gets to that fiddly series of runs on the third page. I didn't used to play piano! I do play piano! Even though I have no time to play the piano! I still can't jam to save my life, but I can do a few sweet Gershwin moves. Here's to the kids feeling the same way in 25 years.
Isabel, Jack, Diana
I worry that I give these guys short shrift, so let's write up the week and see.
Isabel has been journaling, and she has a knack for storytelling and for writing a good sentence. I am happy to spell any word she asks me for, within reason; how do you learn a word without hearing it first? Her handwriting is improving too, which makes me happy. Both she and Eleanor have started curling the tails of their y's and g's, and I like to see it -- I'm all for small beautifications of handwriting. She's reading Harry Potter 1 right now, pushing through it slowly but surely, and she's picking up other chapter books and moving through them much more quickly. I'd issue a ban the execrable, content-free Magic Tree House books, except that she's picking up on that herself.
"Mom, why does every book start with, "Jack wiped his glasses"?"
"Because these books are formulaic, honey."
I took the younger ones to the park while the big girls were in drama club, and we looked at the fish in the surprisingly clear lake, and the ducks doing their ducky thing (everyone could identify which were male and which were female, so I was pleased), and feathers were collected, and creeks were splashed in, and waterbugs observed. Even William cooed at the ducks and tracked the progress of an ant on a rail and sweated amiably in my arms.
Jack and Diana just rattle around the house all day, playing and living it up. I did get a bit alarmed at the thought of Jack going to his first grade religion class and not being able to write his name clearly, so we did some drill there and touched up his a's a bit. He asked for some copywork the other day, and suggested the phrase, "Amen, amen, I say to you," which he remembered from our Bible readings. We had a protracted spat about the best way to lay out his copywork, but finally I was given to understand that he wanted me to write out the line darkly in pencil, then he would erase it so that it was just an outline, and then he would trace it. Okay.
Here's a note from last Monday: "Jack, Diana -- book about the solar system; talked about life int eh universe and God's love." Yep, did that. It was one of those Magic School Bus books, which I could also live without. Any book about education that has Magic as the series gimmick, I'm about done with. Parse that sentence.
Also: could Thomas the Train Engine be any more creepy? I don't care if it gets him reading. I'd rather put up with crappy Star Wars prequels than Thomas.