Because most philosophies that frown on reproduction don't survive.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016


Forgive us the radio silence here. This past weekend saw a houseful of visitors and two sacramental celebrations: Confirmation for Eleanor, and First Communion for Jack. These two grand events were not originally scheduled for the same weekend. Jack's religion class is making first communion this weekend, and we'll have a party just for him on Saturday. But there's no better explication of my character than the fact that when my mother-in-law wanted to fly out to attend the first communion ceremony, I accidentally gave her the date for the confirmation, because they were on two successive Saturdays at the same time and I wrote them down wrong on the calendar. But Jack made his first communion a week early, and Grandma was able to attend both sacraments, and it worked itself out fine.


I do not know the solution for the problem that it seems obligatory for capstone events to be wedged into the end of the school year. Everything for which people have been preparing happens within a space of four weeks: sacraments, dance recital, piano recital, school play. I found myself calculating whether we could get away with just ending the school year now, only to remember that it's just mid-April.


We're doing testing this year. This is the first time -- not because I'm opposed to testing, but because we just haven't. In early June the four oldest will be taking the Woodcock-Johnson tests. These are supposed to test a variety of cognitive abilities, not mastery of particular subject material, so the best way to prepare is what I guess we're already doing -- working on math skills and cognition, analyzing literature and building vocabulary, etc. One reason I've been leery of testing is the very reason we probably ought to have been doing it all this time -- I fear that I'll learn that I haven't taught them anything, in the final analysis. I guess we'll find out! The kids don't seem to care one way or the other, so I'm glad we don't have any anxiety issues here.


Trying to read more lately, despite all the craziness. Interlibrary loan has been my friend, delivering to me three volumes this past week.

Without Prejudice, by Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. An autobiography written two years after the 1934 custody battle that riveted the nation, in which Vanderbilt and her sister-in-law, Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, fought for custody of 10-year-old Gloria Vanderbilt (later to found her own fashion line and become the mother of Anderson Cooper, the CNN anchor). One isn't entirely sure how far to take Mrs. Vanderbilt's assessment of her life experiences, but the book is written in a lush and fascinating style that sets it above most recent autobiographies.

Ghosts Along the Mississippi, by Clarence John Laughlin. Chockful of gorgeous black-and-white photos of great plantation houses in Louisiana, most of them in the final, irreparable stages of decay. The prose is as purple as the buildings. Included are some fascinating full-sized photos of Belle Grove, the house that served as my model for Stillwater.

Innocents Abroad, by Mark Twain. I can't get to Europe right now, but Twain is taking me along on his own trip. Occasionally I wish he would turn off the acerbity, but in general he's a valuable tour guide.


But never let it be said that I don't school my kids in the classics. Today's adventure in culture:


Brandon said...

Ah, one of the true greats. You can go very, very far in culture with Warner Brothers Cartoons.

Have you seen this list? Someone should build a curriculum around that!

mandamum said...

Jealous (in a good way) about your oldest's confirmation. That's one battle I haven't even thought about fighting, because for some reason our parish feels INCREDIBLY strongly about not confirming pre-high-schoolers, NO MATTER WHAT. And ironically, just across the river from us (different county, different diocese, but 10 min away) they confirm all the 2nd graders during the 1st communion Mass - so it's in the "proper order" as some say. I just wish I could get some of that grace and strength-for-the-battle into my kid before high school....

Congrats on your two sacramental celebrations (and to your kids)! We just had a first communion here, which was very exciting. This is the second time in a row that I've been pregnant during a first-communion year, but last time I had the baby first, celebration later, and this time I'm still pregnant and just trying not to overdo.

And... thanks for reminding me about testing (!!) -- I guess I should get my tests ordered. Just ordered the birth kit, which is more time-sensitive :)

(If you get a chance - hah! - can you talk a little more about how you approach your morning bible time? I skimmed back through posts this morning to read your comment about it from before, and would love a bit more about how you work with the kids on the "meditating" part? And do you - or did you in the beginning - give any direction about the silent prayer/listening part?)

MrsDarwin said...


Eighth grade is standard for confirmation here. I wish we did it in the original order, with confirmation first, and at a much younger age, but that's how it is in the Diocese of Columbus. I agree about needing the graces earlier!

I was pregnant during my oldest's first communion, and I taught her class that year. So exhausting! (Baby wasn't born until July, though.) Wish I still had all that leftover stuff from my birth kit -- I'd send it to you. :)

I will try to write a post about our morning readings, though it might have to be after this weekend, which involves dance recital photos, Communion, and play performance on the same day. But we start small -- we don't meditate for longer than a minute right now. Probably we should amp it up, but the baby is so distracting that I feel like we're lucky to have 60 seconds of quiet.

MrsDarwin said...

Brandon, I think I've seen all the Warner Bros. cartoons on the list! All classics of the first order. If I was an A-1 homeschooler, we'd be listening to Rossini after (or better yet, before) watching Rabbit of Seville, but this way they can be pleasantly surprised one day.