• It’s a new month – which means I draw your attention to this great site, full of quotes and poems specific to months and seasons.  I use it for copywork – I could see a classroom teacher using them for any number of purposes. The limitation for us is, of course, that most of the winter/early spring offerings are deeply Northern-normative and therefore not reflective of the February experiences of those of us who are not watching crocuses peek through melting snow. We’ll try not to be offended.
  • Argh, once again, I am doing this at night, which is not good – I forget all the neat little rabbit trails.
  • Prayer – continuing w/2 Samuel – filled him in on Absalom. Read Gospel, which is about the Gerasene demoniac, talked about why people, as in the villagers, are afraid of God changing us.  Talked about St. Brigid, looked up pictures of her with cows, prayed the intercessions and the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Copywork – Monday is Scripture day. Mark 5:15, from the Gospel.  Cursive sentence from cursive practice book.
  • Math: started the last chapter in Beast Academy 5A on expressions and equations. 
  • One last check of worm farm – then set them free. You can see how layering sand with the dirt helps see the good work that the worms do for the soil.

"amy welborn"

  • Now the morning started to be interrupted by phone calls and work-related email stuff. What followed, unfortunately, was not a lot of creative socratic dialogue, but instead an hour of “Go read this, okay? And then come back and tell me about it.” and “Why don’t you finish up that workbook page.”
  • One communication involved an invitation to be a part of what sounds like a very fun zoo class that I had not known about, so that was good. Another involved a touring Alabama Shakespeare school production of The Comedy of Errors, so that was good, too.
  • So…get the boring stuff over….finish reading the Constitution chapter in the text, read and talk about the Bill of Rights.  That was a good conversation, so I guess it wasn’t all a loss.
  • He recited the preamble, which he’d memorized.
  • Latin – just translation and parsing from chapter 21. Daily review of the difference between predicate nominative,  predicate adjective and direct object. I’m sure indirect object is coming soon, so yay.
  • Writing and Rhetoric – began chapter 3, which is about autobiography. Today was just reading the main story, talking about what autobiography is and narrating it back to me.
  • Watched a few videos from this page:  on salamanders, the paper history of London, paper pop-up card tutorial, the Physics Girl video on light-powered spacecraft, and then he watched a couple of videos from that very interesting Primitive Technology channel. 
  • Practiced piano – recital this weekend.
  • Timeframe: 10-2, which includes lunch and piano. Brother has early dismissal on Mondays.
  • Hideously boring, I guess,  but efficient.

As You Like It

…& Shakespeare with Kids

Those of you who follow my daily homeschool updates know that we’ve been working our way up to a performance of As You Like It. 

Well, the performance was last night, so I’ll recap our prep and the performance.

First, this isn’t our first Shakespeare rodeo. One of the reasons I started homeschooling was that I was sick and tired of the stupid, dumbed-down literature curricula in all schools. Wasting time answering questions about stories written to reflect current fashionable concerns about diversity and self-acceptance…can we be exposed to some realness instead? Realness being an exploration of the tension, darkness, possibility and hope of the human condition, recognized as wise and illuminating by the human community, treasured and handed down to us via the cumulative wisdom of human tradition.

Over the past three and a half years, we have “studied” (in our own light way) and seen performances of Macbeth (two), The Taming of the Shrew, Twelfth Night, A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Julius Caesar (our first) and now, As You Like It. 

(Reference – boys are now 11 & 14 years old)

Five of the performances have been at the Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern, one (Shrew) at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival (which seems to be presenting less and less actual Shakespeare as time goes on…)  and one (the second Macbeth) at Samford University. 

My older son is now in school (9th grade), but because he is resigned to my fascist ways  he has become accustomed to my “teachable moments” mode of parenting, only made more intolerable   honed even sharper by homeschooling, he doesn’t blink an eye when told that in the evenings, we’ll be spending a bit of time going over and talking about some Shakespeare.

(Specific resources? The Folger Library. There are loads of other resources online. I don’t have a specific go-to source every time. I do find that searching for “Play name” and “study guide” gets you to some great resources offered by various theaters around the country – most of them tend to produce study guides directed at educators and families for every Shakespeare production they are offering.)

(Also – there are many reasons to be tempted to move to the San Diego area, but the fantastic Shakespeare Academy regularly threatens to put me over the edge.)

So in tackling a play, we begin by going over a synopsis – perhaps in a picture book or one of the collections. Then we start reading through the play – not all of it, but simply parts that are the most vital/well-known or that I think will be most engaging to them. We all take our turns reading. Some enjoy that more than others.

We also might do some memorization – although when both of them were homeschooling, we were more dedicated to that than we are now, unfortunately. If you are at all interested in delving into Shakespeare with your children, Ken Ludwig’s How to Teach Your Children Shakespeare is invaluable. 

Then, interspersed with all of that, we watch – if we are going to see a performance, we don’t generally watch an entire film, with two exceptions: We watched the Brando Julius Caesar and the Taylor/Burton Taming of the Shrew.  We watched a lot of the Patrick Steward Macbeth, which I really like, but honestly the way the three sisters are portrayed is so creepy, at the time (two years ago, I guess), I fast-forwarded through those parts since I felt they were too intense.

And then we do a lot of scene comparison – watching different ways in which the three sisters have been played in film, different version of Julius Caesar  – the RSC production set in Africa was spectacular and illuminating, for example.

The BBC animated Shakespeare tales provide an engaging summary as well. 

As I have said before, we’re not about plot analysis or making charts about protagonists or antagonists. We want the story, the language and the big ideas and small moments, and to connect with these characters because their stories are about living in this world, and we want to grow in wisdom.

All of us.

So with As You Like It.  It’s not a complex play – once you get the family relations sorted out – so we didn’t take weeks and weeks to prepare. We began last Sunday – I sketched out (literally) the family relations, ran through a quick synopsis, and then we read chunks of the first act. On subsequent evenings, we read chunks of the second and third acts, watched the BBC animated version, and I called it done.  They understood it all well enough to be able to enjoy those last two acts without study, so that was it.

The Atlanta Shakespeare Tavern provides a great time. I guess you would call it dinner theater, but we’ll call it an Elizabethan theater tavern instead. Evening shows begin at 7:30, seating opens a bit more than an hour before. Food and drinks are served until about ten minutes before the show begins (kitchen reopens at intermission with desserts). The food is okay, although not very my-kid-friendly. Last night we made do with chili – with extra chips – and the bread basket.

It’s a great, casual atmosphere. Tables on the floor level, as ell as a balcony.  Volunteers help with the dining area and tickets, but so do members of the company, so the guy you remember playing Cassius that one time might be clearing your table.

It’s an ideal venue for introducing children to Shakespeare performances. The audience tends to be very diverse – as Atlanta is as a city – and when there are comedies performed, there are usually a good number of children, so they can see that this is not just a grown-up-school- thing. This is a people thing.

I’m going to say that I think this performance of As You Like It was one of the best we’ve seen there. There were some new faces to us – the actor who did double duty as the wrestler Charles and Duke Senior was a particular favorite, as was Touchstone. Shenanigans and schtick happens, but you know what…it’s a COMEDY.

Some notes:

Playing Rosalind is like fulfilling a million different childhood dreams at once. At different points in the play, I get to channel a Disney princess, Hermione Granger, Carol Burnett, and even Ron Swanson from Parks & Recreation. But I also get to channel Dani, which didn’t used to feel like a dream at all. As Rosalind, I get to be weird and tall and loud and passionate, and I still get to kiss the kind, beautiful guy at the end. And if the audience is laughing at me, it probably means that I did something funny.



It was a busy day: They served retreat Mass at the convent at noon, then we jumped in the car and went straight to Atlanta…to Mass. (I knew everyone would be tired on Sunday, so I wanted to let them sleep in the morning. ) It’s a good education in understanding the differences between daily & Sunday Mass as well as the nature and reason for the Sunday (even in vigil) obligation.  We went to the Cathedral at 5 – the Irish pastor of which has that practice of opening a homily with an “amusing” story that has nothing whatsoever to do with the Scriptures, the season…anything. It is so weird. It doesn’t serve to bring us in, as I’m sure is intended, but is instead a distraction from Mass. Sorry.

The other weird thing – and please understand this is an enormous parish (5500 families) with a tiny church  – yes it is the Cathedral, but it was built in the 30’s when there weren’t that many Catholics in Atlanta – that only holds 700.  They have to do what they can do – and at 5, that means they have settled on having an English language Mass in the church and then a Spanish Mass across the hall in a multipurpose room. The English language Mass was no more than half full – the Spanish congregation looked packed out. Interesting.

So…Mass, drive, Mass, As You Like It, drive 2 hours back.

shakespeare tavern atlanta

Taken before the performance during the announcements. Phone was off during the show. I promise.



First off, I have today’s Living Faith entry:


At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face.

– 1 Corinthians 13:12

My son recently got glasses, and his subsequent experience of unexpected clarity brought back memories.

If you’ve ever had corrective lenses of any type, you know how it goes. You get the glasses, or perhaps an updated prescription, and the first time you look through them, you’re amazed. You knew your eyesight was a little off, but what a surprise to find out how off it actually was.

Quite often, my time on this earth is marked with the same certainty that everything is just fine, that I’m seeing life with absolute clarity, and I must be on the right path because, well, it’s the path I’m on. No other reason, really.

If you’d like to read more of these type of brief reflections, check out The Catholic Woman’s Book of Days or, if you’re thinking, “Gee, I really want to have the Best! Lent! Ever!” try Reconciled to God, also published by Creative Communications for the Parish. 

Today is the memorial of St John Bosco – superseded by Sunday, yes, indeed, but let’s talk about him anyway. The old Catholic Encyclopedia entry is a good place to start.  Another good intro at the EWTN site.

I wrote about him in The Loyola Kids Book of Saints.

(You can click on individual images to get a clearer view.)



  • Prayer: Catching up on 2 Samuel. Bathsheba story is sort of awkward, but ah, well. It’s the truth, so go on through. We read tomorrow’s as well, which finished this narrative with Nathan’s parable and David’s response. Read the Gospel, prayed intentions and Lord’s Prayer. Had him, after, recite the names of the books of the OT through 2 Kings. To learn them in bits like this makes the task not difficult at all.
  • (I’m an advocate of having kids memorize the names of the books of the Bible. I had to do it in Catholic high school, and I had my students do it. They just need to know that when someone says “Isaiah” they think “Old Testament” or “Philemon” they think New. Did I ever tell you about the time I was teaching 9th grade theology to kids who’d been through 8 years of Catholic grammar school, and I was dramatically retelling the story of Cain and Abel and the class gasped when I said, “And then…Cain killed Abel.”  I don’t think it was because of my dramatic skilz, either. In fact, I know it wasn’t, because I was stopped short and asked them, “Wait..did you guy really not know how this was going to end?” Nope, they didn’t. But they knew God loved ’em and that Jesus was nice. Had that down cold. Winning!
  •  Friday, as you might remember, is the day he illustrates copywork instead of writing it. Trobert hooke fleaoday, he asked if he could finish another drawing – the instructor of his homeschool history of science class had taught them about Robert Hooke week
    before last, and this week, as a continuation, given them a copy of his flea drawing from Micrographia, and then a copy with only the front half copied – their task over the week being to sketch the back end themselves. So, sure!
  • By the way, this collection of e-books at Adelaide Unversity is quite interesting and beautifully presented. If you click on a book and go to the first page of said book and scroll to the bottom, you can see links on how to download and do so for the Kindle or Kindle app as well. Today’s great discovery!
  • A tiny bit of math – reviewing multiplying fractions and then finishing up Beast Academy on integers. Those were tough ones, as per usual. Next week: expressions and equations.
  • I realized that although we had been all about the worms for the past week and ah a half, we hadn’t actually been very intentional about invertebrates. So I printed out a couple of handouts – this one was a good, basic chart – and then we read through the intro to invertebrates in the fantastic Animal book. He’s pretty familiar with most of the information, but I tried to be more systematic – he has to have the six invertebrate phyla memorized by Monday, correctly spelled, with an example for each. Spent some time looking through the book, talking about sponges and coral and such.
  • Looked over the worm jar and saw how much they’ve mixed the soil – quite a bit in just a few days. We’ll set them free tomorrow.
  • Constitution time: read the chapter “What is a Constitution?” in The History of US, then the matching section in From Sea to Shining Sea. Went over the basics several times, just in conversation.  He did one of the workbook pages for the text. And yes, we watched the Schoolhouse Rock Preamble segment – which didn’t impress him, sorry kids of the 70’s.
  • Finally, some writing – the Writing and Rhetoric exercise asked him to rewrite the G. Washington/cherry tree thing in the first person from his father’s perspective. This child appreciates a strong narrative voice more than anything else in the novels he reads, so first person composition is right up his alley. Mr. Washington was not pleased.
  • Then what on a Friday afternoon? I had a couple of ideas, but I asked him. “How about we go see the new dinosaur at McWane?” (news story here). So, sure! We’re members so there’s no admission.
  • Note: Always go to the science museum in the afternoon after the field trips have left or are on their way out. We drove up at 1:30, saw scads of buses outside, but knew, given the time, that they were probably loading up for departure.
  • Well. We arrived at the museum and I noted, to my dismay, that the Body Worlds Rx special exhibit had, indeed begun. I knew it was coming, but in my head I had it opening early next week. Nope.
  • He saw the signs and asked what it was.  I said (brilliantly) that it was a special exhibit about the human body. Interestingly, the museum has a FAQ handout at the ticket counter, clearly anticipating questions, although I have to say, there’s been not a peep about this. Remember when these exhibits were controversial?
  • So we went and saw the dinosaur bones and a few other things (we know the place by heart by now..it doesn’t draw us the way it did when they were younger) and he said something about the Body Worlds…and I took a  breath.
  • I said…well, I’ll let you decide if you want to go, but to tell you the truth, I don’t like this exhibit, and I think it’s unethical and I’d rather not. He asked why, and I told him the history and the questions raised about the sources of the bodies early on. The FAQ for this exhibit says that the bodies and parts are all donated by consenting individuals, I told him, but that doesn’t quell my unease, for “consent” doesn’t equal “right.” Anyone can consent to something that’s wrong. I said that an exhibit like this objectifies the human person and deprives the dead of their dignity. But if you really want to…
  • He shook his head. Firmly, I might add. No, he didn’t want to. “I’m more interested in zoology anyway,” he said as we went downstairs to the aquarium.
  • I was relieved. I had wondered, this time around, if I was overreacting. I got home and read the Family Guide and decided I wasn’t. 
  • As we drove home, I was thinking: What if the children’s science museum announced, that for science, they were putting eleven human cadavers on display – you know, just laying them out, maybe some opened in the abdomen, others with the top of the skull removed, others with the heart and lungs exposed. They’d be under glass and preserved in whatever way cadavers are, but there they’d be, just lying there the way, say, medical students would encounter them. We’d probably be horrified and think it was weird and hardly any of us would take our kids to see that type of display.
  • But this plastination process distances us from the reality of the person, even as it reveals their bodies more intimately.  I think that’s a metaphor for something, or maybe I’ve just read too much Walker Percy.
  • Timeframe without museum: 10-12:30. With, 10-2:30. With library 10-3.

7 Quick Takes

— 1 —

You know, I’ve been doing this Daily Homeschool Report thing – our Thursdays tend to be shorter, so I’ll throw the Thursday report here. 

  • On Thursday mornings we head downtown where he participates in a couple of classes for homeschoolers – his grade does drama one hour and then history of science the next. Today, they rehearsed a play they’ll be performing and then learned about Galileo – he was full of fun facts afterwards.
  • Then home, where we did one page of math review (reviewing fractions now) and the next-to-last page of the Beast Academy workbook page on negative and positive integers.
  • Then I said….read, draw or play outside or whatever. Just no screens and no Legos. So he went off and read a bit and is now drawing. He wanders in every now and then to tell me things: why he likes Tolkein’s description of Smaug and (I thought this was interesting) his idea that in school, Show and Tell shouldn’t end with little kids.  Older kids should have a chance to bring in and talk about what they create and treasure, too.
  • In an hour it will be time to practice piano and then off to the weekly lesson. After that, pick up brother and then this one is going off to watch a basketball game at another school with a friend.
  • That’s why Thursdays are short.

— 2 —

Watch this video! It’s a beautiful video about St. Bernard’s Abbey, located north of here in Cullman. It’s good not just because of what it says about monasticism, but also, if you think about it, about Christian discipleship, period.

Argh, I wish they would open a Birmingham satellite of the school…..


– 3—

Movie report from last weekend:

  • Got in Bridge over the River Kwai. It’s long, but they endured and were about 80% engaged through most of it – the Alec Guiness factor helps. What struck me this time (which might as well have been a first time, considering it’s probably been thirty years since I saw it last) was the ending. The author of the original novel and one of the screenplay authors was Pierre Boulle, a French writer who also wrote the novel Planet of the Apes was based on.  Everyone knows the ending to that film, and the end of Bridge is strikingly similar – the doctor, the sole voice of morality and reason throughout all the insanity, sees the destruction and death in front of him and declares, “Madness! Madness!”
  • Boulle, who had been a POW in Southeast Asia during the war and had seen the worst that human beings can do to each other and to their world, obviously had a them going.
  • We then tried some Harold Lloyd – they’ve seen Chaplin (Gold Rush and a couple others) and Buster Keaton (The General  – at our local glam-movie house a while back), so it was time for Lloyd. We watched The Freshman which was amusing but did not exactly make them converts, I don’t think.  The most interesting element to me occurred at one point when, at a college mixer, the tailor who has come along to fix Harold’s barely-basted-together suit in secret has a dizzy spell which he says can only be alleviated by having a drink. So Lloyd dances in the crowd, flipping up coattails, searching for a flask – of course, because it’s Prohibition!
  • Don’t be super impressed with our Film Culture ways. Over the past couple of weeks, they also watched both Bill and Ted movies- but hey, I made them watch the chess season from The Seventh Seal before Bogus Journey so they’d get the reference. Does that count for something?

— 4 —

Speaking of Alabama Catholic stuff, the youngish rector of our Cathedral is heading to Rome to work in the Congregation for the Clergy. Under his leadership, amazing things have happened at the Cathedral – the renovation and the magnificent music program being just two. The parish, which is downtown and not in a residential area, is growing, not least by increasing numbers of younger families drawn to straight-up, solid, beautiful Catholic liturgy with no fear of cringy lameness. If you are ever in town, come visit.

Anyway, here’s an article from the local paper about the move:

“The Lord was preparing me to be moved,” Bazzel said. “It’s been a tremendous grace for me to be here at St. Paul’s. The parish is an incredible, growing, giving family. It’s hard to have a downtown parish. People here are really engaged. It’s something I will miss tremendously, having been here the last nine years.”

— 5 —

There were many great stories to come out of the March for Life – we all read about the Mass by the side of the road with the snow altar. Here’s another one – from St. John Cantius in ChicagoSt. John Cantius in Chicago. The group of young people and their chaperones was a wonderful witness to life and discipleship during the three days they were stranded in Pennsylania: 

That evening at Mass, Fr. Nathan Caswell, SJC preached a sermon that hit home. “We all want to go home, but heaven is our real home. And this is something that we can only do together.” Suddenly homesickness became a spiritual longing. That was it. In that moment, everything was offered.

Robert White, a young student from Rockford, reflected on this lesson, “When I was stuck in Pennsylvania, all my thoughts were on home until that last sermon on Sunday. It did something to me; it awakened some other part of me I have never seen before, the realization that we are all in this fight together, the fight for life. If we try to look after ourselves, we will never find life, we will only find death. To find life you have to go out of yourself.”

Kate Brown wrote “It was nice to see how people offered it up when they remembered the whole reason for the trip. If it takes being stranded in Pennsylvania to raise awareness for the pro-life movement, then it will all have been worth it.”

Angelica Kowara wrote, “It was hard being optimistic the whole time, and to be honest, I wasn’t. I doubted God’s plan. I was mad. I wanted to go home. But I realized, heaven is the real home I am trying to reach and being with the Crusaders for so long brought me one step closer.”

— 6

Recent reads:

  • Scandal by Shusaku Endo. (I’m trying to read what I can of Endo before the film Silence is released – I’m guessing this fall maybe. )
  • Pierre et Jean by Guy de Maupassant.  I was just poking around, looking for a short novel that I could knock off in an hour or so, and this was one someone’s list. Somewhere.  I can’t say a whole lot about the plot, for there’s an element on which the whole thing hinges that you really shouldn’t know going in, although you will probably see what’s coming fairly quickly. Although I tire of 19th century earnestness and verbiage and the absence of bite in the prose, the ironic force of the story is still strong: the shallowness of the bourgeoisie and the ill-effect of inherited wealth.

An hour well spent – better than an hour on Facebook!

  • Read about half of The Memoirs of Louis Bouyer this evening, which is far more than I had intended. (It’s not long, so don’t be impressed). His account of his childhood in and around Paris is quite evocative and charming, and although what follows is more head-oriented and a great deal of “I was influenced by X, and then influenced by Y,” it’s still interesting.

— 7 —

Reminder – if you’re teaching First Communion prep…maybe consider this book?

Also, my bookstore is open – I don’t have everything in stock, but I do have lots of the picture books. If you are an administrator or pastor or otherwise generous person and are interested in some sort of bulk deal, let me know at amywelborn60 – at – gmail.

In less than two weeks…Lent.

Time to order your parish/school materials – even if you want to order some for a group of friends or a class…here you go!

A Stations of the Cross for teens:

"amy welborn"

Biblical Way of the Cross for everyone:

For Ave Maria press, we wrote John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross. The current edition is illustrated with paintings by Michael O’Brien.

"amy welborn"

There’s also a digital edition in app form.

Reconciled to God – a daily devotional. Also available in an e-book format. Only .99.


Looking for a book study for a group? How about Matthew 26-28: Jesus’ Life-Giving Death from Loyola. 

"amy welborn"

For more Quick Takes, visit This Ain’t the Lyceum!

St. Thomas Aquinas


As you know, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI gave several series of General Audiences on the great men and women of the Church, beginning with the apostles.  Thomas Aquinas, not surprisingly, takes up three sessions:

June 2, 2010 – an Introduction.

In addition to study and teaching, Thomas also dedicated himself to preaching to the people. And the people too came willingly to hear him. I would say that it is truly a great grace when theologians are able to speak to the faithful with simplicity and fervour. The ministry of preaching, moreover, helps theology scholars themselves to have a healthy pastoral realism and enriches their research with lively incentives.

The last months of Thomas’ earthly life remain surrounded by a particular, I would say, mysterious atmosphere. In December 1273, he summoned his friend and secretary Reginald to inform him of his decision to discontinue all work because he had realized, during the celebration of Mass subsequent to a supernatural revelation, that everything he had written until then “was worthless”. This is a mysterious episode that helps us to understand not only Thomas’ personal humility, but 220px-Thomas_Aquinas_by_Fra_Bartolommeoalso the fact that, however lofty and pure it may be, all we manage to think and say about the faith is infinitely exceeded by God’s greatness and beauty which will be fully revealed to us in Heaven. A few months later, more and more absorbed in thoughtful meditation, Thomas died while on his way to Lyons to take part in the Ecumenical Council convoked by Pope Gregory X. He died in the Cistercian Abbey of Fossanova, after receiving the Viaticum with deeply devout sentiments.

The life and teaching of St Thomas Aquinas could be summed up in an episode passed down by his ancient biographers. While, as was his wont, the Saint was praying before the Crucifix in the early morning in the chapel of St Nicholas in Naples, Domenico da Caserta, the church sacristan, overheard a conversation. Thomas was anxiously asking whether what he had written on the mysteries of the Christian faith was correct. And the Crucified One answered him: “You have spoken well of me, Thomas. What is your reward to be?”. And the answer Thomas gave him was what we too, friends and disciples of Jesus, always want to tell him: “Nothing but Yourself, Lord!” (ibid., p. 320).

June 16, 2010- Thomas’ theology and philosophical insights

To conclude, Thomas presents to us a broad and confident concept of human reason: broadbecause it is not limited to the spaces of the so-called “empirical-scientific” reason, but open to the whole being and thus also to the fundamental and inalienable questions of human life; and confident because human reason, especially if it accepts the inspirations of Christian faith, is a promoter of a civilization that recognizes the dignity of the person, the intangibility of his rights and the cogency of his or her duties. It is not surprising that the doctrine on the dignity of the person, fundamental for the recognition of the inviolability of human rights, developed in schools of thought that accepted the legacy of St Thomas Aquinas, who had a very lofty conception of the human creature. He defined it, with his rigorously philosophical language, as “what is most perfect to be found in all nature – that is, a subsistent individual of a rational nature” (Summa Theologiae, 1a, q. 29, a. 3).

The depth of St Thomas Aquinas’ thought let us never forget it flows from his living faith and fervent piety, which he expressed in inspired prayers such as this one in which he asks God: “Grant me, O Lord my God, a mind to know you, a heart to seek you, wisdom to find you, conduct pleasing to you, faithful perseverance in waiting for you, and a hope of finally embracing you”

June 23, 2010 – what we can learn from Thomas

In presenting the prayer of the Our Father, St Thomas shows that it is perfect in itself, since it has all five of the characteristics that a well-made prayer must possess: trusting, calm abandonment; a fitting content because, St Thomas observes, “it is quite difficult to know exactly what it is appropriate and inappropriate to ask for, since choosing among our wishes puts us in difficulty”(ibid., p. 120); and then an appropriate order of requests, the fervour of love and the sincerity of humility.

Also – from Fr. Robert Barron, 10 of his own resources on St. Thomas Aquinas. 


No photos, though –  I was focused on helping and didn’t want to trigger anyone, besides.

Back to the beginning.

  • Wednesday was a day when nothing else would be happening (during the day – evenings are basketball & scouts), so we’d have plenty of time to do whatever
  • mostly dissecting a worm.
  • Prayer: Talked about St. Angela Merici and Blessed Edward Oldcorne, SJ. Noted that St. Angela was born on Lake Garda, took out map, looked at it in relationship to Lago Maggiore, where we’ve been, as well as Milan & Venice, also places we’ve visited. Watched this video about the relic of Blessed Edward:
  • 1st reading was God, through Nathan, telling David not to build a temple. I recapped the events that preceded it, then we read that and the Gospel, and discussed the meaning of both. Prayed intercessions and Hail Mary.
  • Copywork was the preamble to the Constitution, with the added fun of being told to have it memorized by Monday – (blow softened by telling him that big brother had to memorize both that and intro to Declaration in brick-n-mortar school. Shared misery).  A bit of cursive, math review of long division again.
  • Beast Academy  – more integers and exponents. This was challenging – division.  But I found once again that the usual BA dynamic came into play. He sort of gets it, then almost despairs. I come close myself, because this last chunk of a chapter in BA is always seems to take a huge leap from what was happening before. I’m just about to say, “Eh, this is really not necessary…we’ll just move on” when he grasps it, declares it easy, while I’m still a bit at sea, so off he goes. I’ve said this before, but the problem-writers at AOPS have it down – something about working those problems just gets the student through to a strong level of understanding.
  • (-9910 ÷ (-99)10)  + ((-99)9 ÷ (-99)9 )
  • That was the last problem. And he got it.
  • Part of the AOPS method is to throw big, scary-looking problems at you that in actuality, if you calm down, break it down and think about it, aren’t that hard.
  • Then I said, “Hey, you want to go look for that loon?”
  • I had heard that last week there was a Common Loon hanging out in the pond in the park near our house.  I kept meaning to go last week, but we never did, so late morning, we took a walk over the hill to check it out. Saw the usual pigeons, ducks and geese, but sadly no loon. He must have already moved on.
  • But it wasn’t wasted time – it never is. Lots of conversation (from his end) about waterfowl.

"amy welborn"

  • Back home, he read the discussion of the 1787 Constitutional Convention in his text, then I read a short chapter on Roger Sherman from The History of Us with him. During lunch, he watched the Hip Hughes History 15-minute video on the same.
  • A bit of Latin – started chapter 21, learned imperfect of sum, and I dragged the future tense out of my brain to demonstrate the difference. He went off and learned the vocab for the chapter.
  • Writing and Rhetoric – it was an exercise in summarizing. I mentioned before, but a while back, that I like the way this curriculum teaches summarize – and yes, any teacher knows summary is something that has to be taught. You have to learn how to pick out the main idea and what details are important. Earlier in the series, he did many exercises in which you were taken step by step through a passage, told to circle the main idea and cross out details that were not important.  Now, in the 5th grade book, you don’t get led step-by-step, but are just told to do it. The story was the legend of George Washington and the cherry tree, and one of the details he picked to keep was that the hatchet belonged to George’s father, which, he noted, brought out the theme of broken trust. I thought that was perceptive.
  • He finished his letter (started yesterday)
  • Watched this super short video on Alabama’s newest dinosaur, now on display at our local science museum – the most complete specimen ever found east of the Mississippi. Then talked about this gif on bird migration (loon related). 
  • Now…worm.
  • I had purchased the specimen and tools from Carolina – this set, which includes not only a worm, but a crayfish, grasshopper and frog. It comes with instructions, of course, but I also printed out a couple of dissection worksheets. This one and this one. 
  • It was successful, according to my definition of the word.
  • So yes, I printed out worksheets, but I didn’t have him write anything or label. The organs on a worm are not easy to distinguish anyway, and I didn’t want to take a lot of time to stress over that since I knew we’d be working on larger specimens with easier-to-note structures later. That wasn’t the point. The point was to learn what dissection is, learn the instruments and the process and get comfortable with it.
  • He did almost all of it – did the initial cut, separated the septa holding the skin to the internal organs, poked around trying identify the various organs.
  • If you get a kit like this a couple of points: the “dissecting tray” is just a styrofoam meat tray, and isn’t deep enough to really hold the pins steady. I had to find a sheet of cork to shove under it to give them more stability.
  • The kits only include 6 pins, which isn’t nearly enough. I need to get some more. A thumbtack did in a pinch, but is not a permanent solution.
  • It was a good exercise – onward!
  • Just a note about activities like this. I’ve told this story before, but it bears repeating if you’re new.  When I first started homeschooling a couple of years ago, I was looking up material on teaching kids Shakespeare.  So many of the websites I went to – even homeschooling websites – were all about doing literary analysis of Shakespeare with kids – protagonist, antagonist, tension, conflict, etc. Okay, if that’s what you want, but it’s not my style.  I teach Shakespeare because he’s great, the language is beautiful and fascinating and deep, the stories are compelling and they give us a lot to think about, and I want Shakespeare to be part of the framework of the interior lives. I want them to be people for whom Shakespeare is just part of the intellectual and spiritual furniture. I mean…they were 7 and 10 when we started, or heaven’s sake.
  • And it’s the same with science and my barely-11 year old. We talk about process and the scientific method, and he knows that. He’s memorized Kingdom, Phylum..etc, and because zoology is his thing, he doesn’t have to be prompted. But beyond that, my goal at this point is to encourage their natural curiosity and intellectual openness which the current school mode seems to leech out of them.
  • Timeframe, including lunch (which I count since he watched a history video during it) 9:45 (earlier today!) – 2.



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