Sunday, October 31, 2010

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weekly Recap 10/18-10/22/10

I know we did stuff this week but, frankly, I'm finding it difficult to remember what it was.  My mind and attention is taken up with details of moving.  School is functioning on auto pilot when it's functioning at all.

We did all the routine things, speech lessons, music lessons, Community Bible Study, a couple of trips to the library.  I know we talked about the Islamic invasion of Spain.  We made a Moorish meal for dinner on Thursday complete with roasted chicken and vegetables and a chick pea and spinach soup.  It was all delicious.  The kids played Yahtzee together on Friday and we counted it as math.  The rest is a blur.

As for the house, the carpets are clean.  The deck is freshly stained.  The kids rooms have been decluttered.  Each child filled a box to give away and a box to put away until after our move.  They were very brave.  I know they would prefer to keep everything just as it is.  I am blessed by their loving choices and generous spirits.

I'll let them give you their take on the week with highs and lows.

high - I got everything done that I needed to do this week.
low- Marching band is over.

high - I did really well on my grammar.
low - I still have my grammar test to take before Monday.

high- I liked drawing the Muslims invading Spain.
low- I do not like practicing violin because it takes so long.

high - I got to read.
low - No lows for the week.  Only highs.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Book Review: Original Sins

In Original Sins, author Peg Kingman sets forth to paint a picture of slavery and freedom in the United States during the mid-1800s.  She reflects the issues and attitudes of the time by depicting an intrigue centering around the main character, Grace, a Scottish woman living in the United States with her husband and child.  Grace is a abolitionist, scientist and free thinker.  Her history and circumstances bring her into conflict with distant relatives and former slaves.  In order to give a more complete picture of this time period, Kingman has worked hard to include a variety of then-current theological arguments and some scientific studies including the early development of photography.

This kind of story, one that presents a multi-faceted, thinking woman, is among my favorite.  In Grace, Kingman does a wonderful job of showing a well rounded woman, limited by her society but not by herself.  I thoroughly enjoyed Grace.  The other characters, while numerous, were hand picked to portray certain stereotypes of the time.  Grace seemed to be the only character that was allowed to be multi-dimensional.  This aspect reminded me that we tend to see people from only one perspective.  Even though the story wasn't told from Grace's point of view we are only able to experience the other characters in a singular sense.

My one disappoinment in the story had to do with theology and Grace's determination that because some theology (mainly that of the slave holder) was wrong then all theology was in doubt.  I know that characters must take a point of view.  It would have been nice if a less extreme point of view could have been offered.  I expect that Grace's mother-in-law could have offered a lovely perspective on being truly Christ like as could have the Quaker family but neither were asked.  Perhaps, their actions speak louder than any words could have.

The historical aspects and interest in this story make it worth the read and the main character makes it worthwhile.  While some of the intrigue and characters seemed to drag a bit, overall, the book was enjoyable, well written and well-researched.

Monday, October 18, 2010

To Die is Gain

It's been one of those days that seems to heap disappointment upon disappointment.   Those days make it easy to lose sight of the purpose in any endeavor.  Those days make it easy to forget your goal and the steps necessary to achieve the goal.  Those days make you want to drink a bottle of wine or crawl back in bed or both.

I think that this day has made me understand more clearly what Paul meant when he said, "To live is Christ and to die is gain."  Too often I operate in this world as if to live were gain and to die were Christ.  My purpose is backward and my actions and decisions reflect my confusion. 

We got our realtor reports back today and our recommended listing price is considerably less than we payed for this house.  We paid considerably less than the asking price four years ago.  We thought we'd gotten a great enough deal that the market loss wasn't going to really affect us.  We were wrong.  If we manage to sell for the very top recommended listing price, we'd be selling at $20,000 less than we paid.  The news just gets worse from there. 

I keep reminding myself that the house belongs to God and that God has a purpose and a plan.  I really know that.  I can give you examples through my life that demonstrate that knowledge.  Sometimes in hindsight but sometimes even when I'm in the midst of the situation I can see God working.  I expect nothing less in this situation.  God has provided the job.  God has a plan.  My desire is to stop seeking to gain here on earth but, rather, to live the life that Christ would have me live now.  My gain is in the future.  Searching and striving for gain now is not my purpose or God's plan.  I know that.  I just need to remember it and to strive to live Christ.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

An Afternoon at the Pumpkin Patch

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Saturday, October 16, 2010


One of the things I love about getting older, and perhaps having too much wine, is that I can be honest about certain things in life.  A friend's daughter, pregnant with her second child, asked me this evening how it was having #2.  Her main concern was that she wouldn't love the second as much as the first.  Thankfully, I was able to honestly say, "No, that wasn't even a concern of mine."  Unfortunately, what I added was that #2 kicked my butt and that my biggest mistake was having one in the process of potty training along with #2 being a newborn.  Pure stupidity on my part.  The fortunate part is that I was able to honestly tell this concerned young mother that it didn't make a bit of difference.  I loved my second child in the same crazy, hopeful way that I'd loved the first.  It didn't even require thought or extra effort.

The second thing I said, that may have been a mistake, is that I don't really like babies.  I know it's a shocker.  I've had four babies.  EVERYONE LOVES babies.  Except me.  I'd much rather see a four month old to 3 year  old.  I love the toddler stage.  The next shocker would be that I don't really love other people's children.  Gasp!  Four children of my own, how can I not LOVE every child  that I meet? Well, I just don't.  Other children must earn my love and appreciation.  My own children have the love on an automatic response.  They must, however, learn to behave in a way that engenders my cooperation.  Please, thank you and I love you are expected phrases in my home.  My children know I will do just about ANYTHING for them but they MUST ask appropriately.

I'm really not sure if it's age or experience.  Maybe it's a combination of the two.  Either way it works.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekly Recap 10/11-10/15/10

We've been talking about atmosphere, weather and the water cycle this week.  We had some beautiful sunny weather just perfect for showing that water is constantly moving through our environment and that a river or lake isn't the only source of evaporation in the water cycle.  All my dc were surprised at what could be collected by a simple drinking glass left in the grass.

We learned how clouds are formed.  Identified the different kinds of clouds and discussed the type of weather most often accompanied by each kind of cloud.  Then, we made our own cloud. 
Everyone is moving forward in all lessons, perhaps not as enthusiastically as I'd like but overall, it was a good week.  I'm especially pleased with our Latin lessons.  It's fun to hear all the children sharing their Latin knowledge together.  S8 probably has the easiest time with memorizing but M6 has the most fun with her lessons.  K14 and H11 are working on verbs and conjugating.  It's not as fun but they are moving along and able to help the younger two.

In history, we are learning about the Franks.  We worked a lot with the globe this lesson. 

K14: High - A on French test
Low - none
H11 working on her Young Novelist Workbook.
H11:  High - working on preparing for NaNoWriMo
Low - diagramming sentences

This is a typical math lesson gone wrong for S8!  His love of drawing often causes him to be distracted from the task at hand.
S8:  High - I love history because I get to illustrate and caption our stories.
Low - I do not like practicing violin because it takes awhile.
 A reading lesson with M6.  The switch from Phonics Pathways to The Ordinary Parents Guide to Teaching Reading was such a good choice for us.
M6: High - That I got to do my reading in a happy way.
Low - I had to do grammar every day.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Right Cut

My son had been asking for me to cut his hair.  This was the fifth or sixth request for a hair cut over the course of the week. I put him off several times earlier in the week by telling him the time wasn't convenient or I wasn't sure where to find the electric razor. I'd put him off as long as I could.  I dreaded the job, not because it was difficult but because I loved his hair. 

When my son asks for a haircut he's not wanting a nice man cut with scissors.  He's requesting that I get out the electric razor and mow down his beautiful hair until all that remains is a velvety carpet of stubble on his head.  Before I had children, I made so many judgements and proclamations of the way things would and would not be in my family.  I was young and foolish and still believed that control was mine for the taking.  Now, I know with a clear and certain knowledge that passing judgement and issuing proclamations outlining perfection is the sure way to regret and reevaluation.

As you've probably guessed, one of the things that I proclaimed, for all the world to hear, was that when I had a son, he'd never have a buzz cut.  God heard my prayer, laughed and sent me an amazing little boy who from the time he was three has claimed the buzz cut as his own personal style statement.  He truly believes he is the most handsome creature on the planet when his hair is freshly shorn.  He believes it so deeply that it makes him dance, naked, in the bathroom.

Last night he'd finally had it with waiting for me to get things together for his haircut.  He found the razor himself and hauled me into the bathroom to complete the job I'd been assigned.  Sadly, the razor hadn't been charged and wasn't working up to full power so we had to plug it in and let it charge for a bit.  My son has about as much patience as the typical eight year old.  After about twenty minutes he asked me to come see if the razor was ready.  It seemed to have charged so I put the guard on it and began cutting.  One swath from dead center of the forehead back to his crown complete.  I began on the second pathway and the razor wound down and died.

My son is not normally concerned about appearance.  His color seldom match.  He's been known to tuck his dress pants legs into his cowboy boots.  His sisters keep a pretty close eye on him if we are going out in public so he won't embarrass them with his appearance.  I knew the hair cut we'd gotten done so far was not permanent and that we didn't have to go anywhere so there would be time to finish it after dinner.  He was not convinced and expressed his determination to stay in the bathroom until the razor was fully charged and the job was complete.  I explained to him that it could take several hours to charge the razor and that he'd get bored sitting in the bathroom alone.  A better choice might be to find a hat.  My idea was rejected.  He was determined to remain in isolation.  I left to fix dinner.  About twenty minutes later, he emerged from the bathroom to find a hat.  Pulled said hat very low over his head, almost covering his eyes and sulked his way down the stairs. 

After dinner, we were sure the razor had to be charged.  Finished the second partially mowed row and began on a third.  Things were humming along nicely and then we started running out of juice.  Two thirds of the front was complete.  He looked even more ridiculous than he had before dinner.   Once again, he had the agonizing choice between hat and bathroom.  His sisters were waiting for him to watch a movie.  He couldn't let them down so, after he'd gotten me to promise that he absolutely would not have to leave the house with this cut even if it meant missing Bible study in the morning, he resituated the hat and took his place in front of the screen.

Two hours passed in make believe bliss.  The razor was fully charged, the job was completed with no further delays.  Trim work done. A freshly shorn boy did a dance of recognition and thanksgiving in the bathroom. 
 His mother/barber laughed with delight at how something I once found so abhorrent for my imaginary son could bring such joy to the real life version.  I also caught myself saying a prayer that he would always find joy that would make him dance and that the joy would be something as simple and wonderful as the right hair cut.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: M6 A Self Portrait

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Immovable, Movable, Move

I came across this quote as I was putting together a newsletter this evening and it really spoke to me.

All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immovable, those that are movable, and those that move. - Benjamin Franklin

My first thought was, "Wow, I know which class I'm in."  My second thought was, "Hey, I didn't know that the first class was an option!"  And that's true in a limited, literal sort of way.  For me it's not but I know others that have moved only rarely in their adult lives.  Some haven't moved at all or have only moved once.  Some have moved more than once but never beyond a five mile radius of their starting point.  

I'm not sure Ben was talking about moving in a literal sense.  In fact, I'm pretty sure he was speaking of adaptability and flexibility when dealing with circumstances of life.  Today, I needed to think about belonging to a certain class in a more literal way.  Moving is a choice that I'm making.  I'm not being dragged kicking and screaming.  I'm not digging in and making things difficult or being immovable.  I'm also not moving because someone else is choosing and I'm just along for the ride.  The independent nature within doesn't like the movable option any more than the immovable.  I'm moving because I've made a choice to love the man I love.  I've made a choice to raise children with him and to be a family together.  I've made a choice to support and encourage him.  I've made a choice to believe that God is taking care of me and that when my prayers are answered  I'd best pay attention and MOVE.

Telling people has been and will continue to be a difficult thing.  Saying good bye is never easy.  There are so many I will probably never see again.  Even in this day and age with the technology and whatnot I am so much more inclined to nurture the relationships I have with family and let all but the most immediate friends go. 

On Thursday at our Bible study brunch, we'll be sharing our favorite room in our house and what makes it our favorite.  I'm not sure what I'll say.  I love every room in my home.  Leaving this house is going to be as painful as leaving any person.  I continue to trust God that the next place will be as much a blessing to me as this home has been.  We've lived here four years, I keep reminding myself.  We lived in our last house for seven years and I gave birth to my youngest daughter on the kitchen floor.  I thought I'd never love another house as I loved that one.  God is good and I am thankful.

And with the knowledge that I am a mover, I continue to look at for sale listings.  I continue to sort through items to be moved and items to be discarded.  I continue to anticipate the new life we will make and I continue to be thankful for the class to which I belong.

Monday, October 11, 2010

More Babysteps Are Taken

We are actually making a bit of progress towards changing our lives.  I've talked with all the relocation players and this week I have an appointment with the movers to come walk through the house and estimate what size truck they'll need and how much time to move us.  It's good to have a few balls rolling.

Today, the second realtor did their walk-through of the house.  I didn't even clean it this time.  I had the children pick up their stuff and we made it all look neat but the house wasn't clean.  It wasn't even close.  I really don't have an excuse.  Sure, I'm single parenting for another week. Three down, one to go! Yes, we've been really busy with band, football and soccer.  The truth is I just didn't feel like doing it.  I spent Sunday reading a book and napping.  You know what, I didn't even regret that choice when the realtor peeked behind the shower curtain in my bathroom.  I'm pretty sure she regretted her choice to peek.  She was  polite and didn't scream or make a face.  Well, she didn't make much of a face.

Now we are waiting on the relocation company to get back to us with a marketing strategy.  Our neighborhood is such a strange one that I'm not even sure what price they'll want to use for listing our house.  The lots here are all one acre but  the houses on those lots are each unique.  In the last year there have been sales from $150,000 to $245,000 in the neighborhood.  The good news is that there are fewer homes listed for sale in our neighborhood today than there have been at anytime during the last four years.  Hopefully, that will work in our favor.

I've been thinking today about renting an apartment or small house and traveling back and forth between here and Ohio until this house sells.  I really don't want two house payments.  Just because you can afford something doesn't mean it's a great idea.  I suppose it's another thing we'll need to think, talk and pray about.  That list just keeps growing.  The nice thing is that I'm confident that everything is going to work out just fine.  Being Presbyterian is a real benefit sometimes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Processing Pumpkin: Three Tasty Treats

One of the most wonderful things about fall is pumpkins.  Just looking at them makes me smile.  Their gorgeous orange color, the variety of sizes, shapes and textures.  Add to their aesthetic qualities the fact that the pumpkin is infinitely useful, nutritious and delicious and that is cause for celebration.  So, during this week, we celebrated the pumpkin.

Our first pumpkin of this season was a $1.79 pie pumpkin from Linda Fraley's market which we turned from a lovely orange globe into a variety of tasty treats.  We began by slicing our pie pumpkin in half and scooping out the seeds. 
S8 wasn't thrilled about this part of the job.
After slicing the pumpkin we put it, cut side down, on a baking sheet and baked it for about 90 minutes at 350 degrees.  The key is baking until the pumpkin is tender.  The rind should just peel right off and the pumpkin should mash with a fork.

Here's our cooked pumpkin.
We ended up with four cups of cooked pumpkin and a bunch of seeds.
H11 and S8 make 2 cups of our cooked pumpkin into our favorite pumpkin cookies.

You can find the recipe for our First Sign of Fall Pumpkin Cookies on my blog.
H11 took the pumpkin seeds and made them into a salty snack.
First she got all the pumpkin goo off the seeds and dried the seeds overnight.

Then she boiled them in salty water for 8 minutes.  Finally, she microwaved the seeds in oil until the seeds were lightly toasted and crispy.  She stirred the seeds every minute to make sure they didn't stick or burn.
We'd recommend you follow the directions here to make your own pumpkin seeds.  There are shorter methods for microwaving pumpkin seeds and we'll be trying those next time.

Finally, we made the first pumpkin pie of the season.  I'll decide tomorrow whether to post the recipe.  The pie is still warm and while the taste is good, the texture is a bit off.  I'll pass a final verdict on it's shareability after the pie has had a night to rest.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Family Traditions: The Art of the Tea Party

Grammy began the tea party tradition for our family years and years ago.  We now use tea parties to celebrate events both large and small.  Sometimes we use tea parties to turn ordinary days into special events.  On Thursday, October 7, M6 chose to invite her special friends to a tea party.  

First she made invitation for each of her guests.

She set the table using Grammy's very special tea set.

When her guests arrived, M6 carefully poured the tea.

I know that Grammy is smiling at this very special tea party and at the connection she shares with her great-granddaughter.

Weekly Recap 10/4-10/8/10

We began this week with some time at home.  M6 has developed a love for Amelia Bedelia.  H11 and S8 were happy to share their reading skills with her as long as they could spend some extra time snuggling.

We spent time this week learning about lift and what makes a wing fly.  While some of our experiments worked perfectly, some required a little more, well, experimentation.

Overall this week was a pretty great one.  We got the house totally straightened for a realtor walk through, had some extra fun in the kitchen and completed all of our lessons.  M6 even completed FLL Grade 1.  She's very, very pleased with herself.  That makes her an official kinfirsecond grader. 

We are moving right along with Story of the World 2.  We learned about Australia and New Zealand this week.  That was especially fitting since Rob is in Australia.  I think we'll be watching Whale Rider this weekend.  We love that movie.

Much of our math was done while cooking but S8 and H11 did start multiplying multiple digits with carrying.  Fun stuff.  It's a review for H11.  She doesn't seem to mind.  S8 is thrilled with the orderly nature of math. 

H11 is also preparing for the NaNoWriMo by working on the young author's workbook.  She's anxious to get started with the actual writing but has agreed that the pre-planning will help her be successful in November.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Sign of Fall: Pumpkin Cookies

Our pumpkin cookie tradition began when K14 was a toddler and we lived in New York.  Back then, I didn't know that pumpkin could come in any form except canned.  I didn't equate the beautiful orange globes with the pies I loved.  The magic that it took to turn one into the other was totally beyond my comprehension.  I was a different person with different focus and different interests.  Even so, I still craved a way to mark time, to celebrate it's passing with ritual and intention. 

And so the ritual of the pumpkin cookies as a sign of autumn was born.  Over the years we've tweaked the recipe.  Not a single one of my children likes their cookies polluted with raisins so early on we swapped raisins for chocolate chips.  As what my children eat and where it comes from has become more important to me, I've learned to make my own pumpkin puree.  Who knows, maybe next year I'll even grow it myself.  That is assuming that Rob won't mow the pumpkin plants, again.  However we choose to make our cookies, the act is a seasonal highlight.  We mark time with this ritual of  measuring, mixing and tasting together.

First Sign of Fall Pumpkin Cookies

2 1/4 c sugar
3/4 c vegetable shortening
2 eggs
2 t vanilla
2 c pumpkin puree
1 1/4 t baking soda
4 c flour
4 t baking powder
1/2 t ginger
1/2 t cinnamon
1/2 t allspice
1/4 t cloves
2 c chocolate chips

Cream together sugar, shortening, eggs, vanilla and pumpkin.  Add dried ingredients, alternating flour with spices and mix well.  Stir in chocolate chips.  Drop by teaspoonful onto non-greased cookie sheet and bake at 375F for 8 to 10 minutes, until lightly brown.  Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack to cool.

The Joy of Creation

My last few weeks have been overflowing with irritating jobs that bring me little joy.  I've cleaned closets, drawers, clothes and rooms.  I've filled boxes with items to be donated or sold.  I've filled garbage cans with things we no longer want and are able to admit that no one else wants either.  All of this is necessary, but it really doesn't foster a sense of well being in me.  There is a fleeting sense of satisfaction or perhaps it's just relief that the job is done.  Either way, I have been craving a more creative task.

Yesterday, S8 asked for apples.  On the way home, after dropping M6 at a friend's house for a few hours of  play time, we stopped at the corner vegetable market.  We bought apples, a pie pumpkin and a basket of overly ripe tomatoes.  I practically danced out of the shop with my loot. 

I won't say that I made the best pumpkin cookies ever (although they were delicious).  Or that my pasta sauce is one that would rival an Italian grandmother's (It wouldn't.  I've got a long way to go in the gravy making department.)  I would say that I felt satisfied and joyful yesterday as I baked pumpkin then made cookies with it.  I was euphoric as I blanched, peeled and pureed tomatoes for gravy.  I practically danced as I mixed the pasta dough for spaghetti and took great pride in each crank of my pasta press and the pile of glorious noodles that poured forth onto my counter. 

Sometimes, taking time to cut, mix and blend is more than labor.  Taking time to create something from pieces of other things can help put the world back in order.  Sometimes, a plate of pasta and a cookie is a prayer.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Eating an Elephant

There is nothing easy or pleasant about eating an elephant.  I know that it's got to be done one bite at a time.  However, just the idea of taking the first bite and then the next until you get the entire creature devoured is depressing.  That much chewing is sure to be painful.  It's easier to spend the time avoiding the beast all together than to actually begin carving it up.

I spent much of today dancing around my elephant.  It's tough to actually wade in and take a bite when the elephant is buried in toys, clothes and paper.  Four mess makers vs. one mess cleaner is not good odds.  Clearing all of the clutter away from the elephant took me until 9:30pm.  The sad part is that the only reason I caught up is because the mess makers went to sleep.  There's really little hope of actually attacking this elephant.  I'm not sure that being able to see the elephant is a really good thing either.  It looks just as large as it did when I could only see the mess. 

As a reward for my de-cluttering efforts treated myself to cup of coffee and a two pieces of chocolate.  Not just any chocolate,  Holl's Chocolate.  If you ever find yourself in Parkersburg, WV this is definitely a place to stop.  Heck, if you ever find yourself in any part of southeast Ohio or western West Virginia, it's really worth a detour.  Swiss chocolate, delicious combinations and a shopping experience you won't forget.  Plus, free samples.  YUM!

So, my elephant remains whole.  The house is straightened but dirty.  I know the realtor is going to have a long, long list of things that need to be taken care of before we can list the house.  My list is longer than my arm and I love my house and feel very attached to it.  I tend to view it with a parental eye excusing it's shortcomings and praising it's strengths.  I have no clue where I'm going to find the time and energy to really dig into this elephant. I'm thinking hiring a professional elephant eater might be my best course of action.  Maybe a magic elephant eating fairy will come in the night and make my elephant disappear.  Maybe this elephant will look smaller in the morning.  Maybe, after a good sleep, I'll be really hungry for elephant.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Slow Forward Movement

It's done.  Official resignations have been made.  In an effort to keep a wonderful employee, the current employer offered a two year assignment in Pernis.  As tempting as that may be, we aren't ready to risk that they would send all of us and not just Rob.  I suspect two years of missing Rob would do us all in.  So, we move forward with moving forward.

I've talked to our relocation coordinator, our packing coordinator and our mortgage coordinator.  I've fired a realtor and hope to hire one or two more this week.  I've been pre-approved for as much money as I can carry out of the bank.  I've cleaned out M6's room and added to the pile of stuff in the garage.  I think we'll be having an all-you-can-stuff-in-a-bag-for-$3 yard sale soon. 
It's been a busy weekend for us.  They all are really.  We spent Friday night having pizza with neighbors.  Who knows how many times we'll get to share time and food with these wonderful people?  It's best to take advantage of every moment.  Wine flowed, laughter rang and it was a wonderful night. 

Saturday brough football and band.  We experienced a loss on the football field and a gold rating in the band competition.  The evening continued with a stop at the Red Box and a movie watched in the van when the dvd player went on the fritz.  Sunday we communed with the world and followed with a meal at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  If Jesus had been Hispanic would we commune with margaritas and tortilla chips?  After lunch Isaved more than I spent at Kohl's.  They were having a sale.

Some effort was made at cleaning up and cleaning out rooms.  Letting go is hard.

The week stretches before us.  Who knows what will happen next?  We seem to be moving forward, slowly.  Or perhaps we are just flying by the seat of our pants.  Our prayer is that we are moving in God's will and glorifying God with every step we take.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Weekly Recap 9/27-10/1/10

This week was, literally, all over the place. We began in West Virginia looking for farms and ended at home enjoying a play and time with friends. We are struggling to stay up with our school work but we spent lots of time together, swam, ate and laughed a lot.

Here are some of the highlights of the properties we looked at on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Eight more places, no winners yet.

Winner of the best pond award.

My favorite master bedroom.

The most excellent hay loft.

The prettiest barn.

The best fencing.

The favorite house as chosen by the children.

The prettiest piece of property.

Hay like this just begs to be climbed.

As for school stuff, M6 is continuing to enjoy Song School Latin.  We've added mother, father, sister and brother to our "How are you? (Quid Agis?)" game.  She's also subtracting with ease and zipping right through identifying numbers 1-30.  In reading, she's starting blended sounds.  Friday we tackled -ck with no problem.

S8 is moving quickly through his grammar and Latin.  Latina Christiana is a much better fit for him and he seems to enjoy it.  Rather than making him do separate writing, he is completing all of his Latin exercises in cursive.  It's fine for copy work and is keeping his assignments neat.  He's still reviewing his multiplication tables 0-12.  I think we'll move away from that in the next week or so.  We are reading Arabian Knights aloud.

H11 is finishing up the Writing with Skill pilot lessons.  She's enjoyed it but is anxious to return to something more creative.  She's also enjoying Analytical Grammar so much more than the Rod & Staff we used last year.  We finished reading Beowulf together but have yet to begin Sir Gawain and the Green Knight (Broadview Literary Texts) .  I plan to start that this coming week.

In history, we learned more about China, Japan and Korea.  We are listening to Where the Mountain Meets the Moon.

K14 continues to pose the biggest challenge.  Having her go to the high school for three classes is great.  She enjoys the social time and it gives me a break every other day.  Teaching three children is much easier than teaching four!  However, on the days that she is at home, she's a master procrastinator.  Keeping her on task and making sure she completes a reasonable amount of work each day is a real challenge.  She enjoys working with me but uses my other obligations as a reason that she is unable to put in the learning time I expect.  I'm going to have to figure out a resolution to this before she falls even farther behind.

The final highlight of our week was seeing a production of If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.  While the recommended age range was pre-kindergarten through third grade we all found it to be entertaining.  This is part of the Chase series offered by our local university and is a free program.  We are blessed to be able to enjoy such quality performances at no cost.