I have a bit of real estate fever. Scratch that. A lot. In fact, I came back from Europe determined to do a couple of sort of big things to this place and then go shopping. So far I’ve done nothing except clean out the basement, but that doesn’t stop me from spending an inordinate amount of time studying listings. There’s no need , but what there is is a desire for a slightly different, more open layout,
a little more energy efficiency than this 90-year old bungalow affords, and (frankly) space to put up a basketball goal. My life would be transformed by a basketball goal. No, not by me, personally shooting baskets, but other people. Not that they don’t play outside pretty much all the time anyway, oh, how they would love it. And their play would be just that much more focused, which would be good. And there’s just no good spot on my current property for it. The driveway is narrow and slopes down from the minute it begins and the back yard is smallish. If I had someone put in a even a smallish surface and goal back there..it would just have to be taken out before I sold the place – which I will, eventually.
Oh, and even though I’ve lived comfortably in a purging mindset for ages now and am not an accumulator, it would be a refreshing change to have more than three closets in my house. People, I’m not kidding. Three.
So I’ve been looking. Found a few possibilities, but I’m waiting to see what else comes up on the market this spring. I’m hoping just to find something else in my own area – in fact I have my eye on one house that’s not on the market, but records show it’s been put on and taken off a couple of times over the past two years…so I’m hoping the owner gives it another shot this year…that would be ideal. Because I really love this neighborhood and I don’t really want to leave this part of town – there’s no traffic, I get downtown in about six minutes, I’m close to the airport, the interstate…as a friend who’s also toying with a move said, “My route. I like my daily route, and I don’t want to mess that up.”
So we’ll see.
Curriculum Report I:
We’ve started Latin. I’m using Getting Started with Latin with the 6th grader, and I like it a lot. It’s very laid-back, low key and..dare I say it? Easy. It’s just what is says – it’s about getting started. We get through this, and then we’ll wind back around next year and begin a more formal study, but right now, this is perfect for a student unaccustomed to formal foreign language study who isn’t a strong memorizer, except of football stats.
I had thought Minimus would be good for the 8-year old, but I ended up sending it back. It’s on a faster track than I had thought – too fast. and since Getting Started is slower than I thought, he’s ended up just slipping in and joining us in that.
They like it – and probably partly because I like it. I took four years of high school Latin and then two in college. Second year was one of my favorite college courses. It was taught by Dr. Harry Rutledge, who would stroll into class in his three-piece suit carrying only his copy of the Aenid, and we would spend the next fifty minutes sight-translating – turned out I had a knack for it – and listening to him spin yarns.
Latin – at the introductory level – elegant, pardoxically sturdy yet intriguingly flexible, with the qualities of a puzzle – appeals to my 11-year old boy quite a bit.
8-year old has been in Math Mammoth for a couple of weeks now, and I’m glad I chose it – and so is he. It’s third grade, and so far it’s a lot of mental math practice with larger addition and subtraction problems, which he’s really glommed onto – again with the puzzle aspect – and he just started multiplication. He knows his tables already, but the approach is such that it challenges him to flip problem around and look at them from different perspectives which he seems to find quite enlightening. Thumbs up so far.
The Life of Fred is a very strange – on the surface – math series about a five year old who teaches mathematics at KITTENS University. The titles of the volumes for younger children have nothing to do with math – Apples – Butterflies - and such. (Middle school titles are more traditional - 6th grader is on Fractions.) You can read about the series here. Some people use them as their sole math curriculum. We are using them as supplements – again, to encourage them to think about numbers and mathematics in different, creative ways and to just learn to think mathematically. All I can say at this point is that they are being devoured and Fred comes up in conversation several times a day….
So yeah, we read Rime of the Ancient Mariner this week. Why? Because My Hot Shot Curriculum called for it? No, because I was cleaning out the piano music and I finally found the Dover volumes of Dore illustrations – Bible, The Divine Comedy, and this – that my mother had given me ages ago, and I thought, “Hey! Let’s do this!”
And what do I mean by “do?” We sit on the couch and take turns reading it aloud – I do the bulk of it to save time and (my) patience, but they do big chunks, and are improving on this sort of thing all the time. We read (over two days), I explain certain points, ask them to talk about other points, they ask (many) questions, we examine Dore’s rather gory pictures, and I point out a few well-known passages which they sort of memorize (if they’re short) and we might use for copywork later. In this, for example: Water, water everywhere/Nor any drop to drink!
Since we’d read the Book of Jonah earlier in the week – it was the source for one of the daily Mass readings one day, so might as well just read the whole thing – it’s only 4 chapters – we played just a bit with bouncing the two off one another. Just a bit. Don’t be too impressed. That part of it is mostly me going , “Hey! Did you notice blah blah blah blah blah” with them looking longingly at the front door.
Perhaps I should be aiming higher, and they should be writing papers or at least paragraphs about these works we’re reading. Perhaps at some point we will get there. But right now, I just want to sit on the couch and have us read to each other and talk about these works, examine pictures, listen to recordings and watch productions or snippets thereof, and through all of that, learn to associate great literature as something a person spends time with in the normal course of a day or week because it is interesting, entertaining, intriguing and fun to explore and talk about, and reveals truths about ourselves and the world.
I read another book! To Be Sung Underwater. (I bought it during a sale – 2.99 Kindle edition a couple of weeks ago) It was the first book in a long while that I found hard to put down. But it faltered near the end, and since finishing it I’ve been able to see the whole more clearly. It’s basically a story about how the past impacts the present and a woman’s attempts to make sense of that (unique!). There is some great writing here – passages that I highlighted and copied out because they seem to so succinctly capture a moment. McNeal has a true gift for voice and dialogue. Every single character spoke in a unique, identifiable voice that was also recognizably human, from the main character’s husband and his rather arch self-regard to her mother’s frankness.
But it was, in the end, that main character – Judith – who gave me second and then third thoughts. I can’t really explain without going into plot detail, which I don’t have time to do and which will bore you if you haven’t read the book, but I’ll just say that this was a book I certainly enjoyed reading for the beauty and knowingness of much of the writing, but, in the end, the central character just didn’t ring true and the final turn of events was over-the-top contrived and neat.
Praying for the Pope. And his successor. And us.
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