Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘7 Quick Takes’

— 1 —

Another quiet week at the homefront.  Basketball, roof repair (finally!), brick-n-mortar school schedules and coldish weather keep us close to home these days.  But in a couple more weeks….we’re free! (-ish)

— 2 —

This week, I’ve been reading Captive Paradise, which is a history of Hawaii.  No, we’re not going there (although I’d love to!) – I’m just on a kick.  I read a history of the leper colony at Molokai, and this was on the “new releases” shelf at the library.  And then, as I started reading it, I noted that the author was talking about charging up against politically correct interpretations of history, and I was all in. 

I adore revisionist history – from any angle. I’ve always been just as interested in historiography as I am in history – may I blame my 9th grade history course at Knoxville Catholic High School which used a curriculum that was all about primary sources and interpretation?  Perhaps.  I’ll have more about it when I finish, but at this point, I’m really interested in the various interpretations of pre- and post-contact island life.

Although since everyone’s  – seriously, EVERYONE’S –  name  begins with “K,” I admit that I’ve given up on the details. Big Picture, people.  Big Picture.

— 3 —

Speaking of historiography, tonight while I was running , I listened to this week’s In Our Time, which was about the 4th century BC Indian king, Ashoka.  Ashoka is famed for converting to Buddhism and attempting to shape his kingdom according to Buddhist ethics.  What was fascinating about this program was the straight-up disagreement between the historians.  First we had two (young female) historians who told the story of Ashoka pretty straightforwardly, admitting a bit of ambivalence about the sources, but really not too much.  Then comes the Old Boy who basically says everything that’s been said so far is BS because reliable primary sources are non-existent.  Awkward!  It was a fascinating listen, not only for that but also to learn about later (and present-day) Hindu-dominated India’s neglect and outright ignoring of the Buddhist king who abhorred the caste system.

— 4 —

Speaking of my exercise…

I run/walk in a facility that has a track floating above a gym.

(Running around a track is certainly rat-in-a-maze-like, but it strikes me that doing a treadmill would be worse. So 80 laps it is!)

Last year, during intramural basketball season, I took note of a particular team and a particular coach, and I’m stupidly happy to be able to have them in my sights again this year as I run in circles above their games.

They are teenagers, and their coach is one of them – they’re maybe 16/17 years old.  But the thing is – and this is what I noticed last year – the kid who coaches…wears a tie, every single game.  Sometimes he sports a jacket it with it, and other times a sweater vest, but whatever, it’s hysterical.  I love it.  He stands at the sidelines like he’s Rick Paterno in his jacket and tie, coaching his friends, while the other side is coached by some dad being all casual in shorts and a t-shirt, and tonight, when they were losing by a lot, he grabbed someone’s jersey, threw it over his vest and tie, and put himself in the game for the last two minutes.

Everyone thinks they’re doing it like an individual…but only some of us actually are.

— 5 —

I was thinking I would try to do a learning post for Melanie this week, but with a writing deadline,  basketball on Saturday and a birthday party on Sunday, that’s not happening. So for now, I’ll just mention a couple of things:

This past week, Michael read this book, which is part of a 3-book series: Michael at the Invasion of France.  I am a firm believer in the “living books” pedagogy of history, either with non-fiction or historical fiction, and this was a great example of how well this works  It’s an excellent book (Joseph had read it a few years ago) about a boy involved in the French Resistance.  Her “author’s note” at the end about the role of children in the Resistance actually made me choke up a bit as I read it.

(My) Michael read it and then we’ve spent a couple of days working through the study materials Calkoven herself provides – background material as well as questions that (my) Michael discussed with me and wrote about.  Ample opportunity to discuss, not only the specifics of history but also issues of loyalty, authority, and resistance as well.

Last year at some point, I had let our subscriptions to the Cricket-group magazines lapse, but I recently renewed them – we subscribe to Muse, Dig, Odyssey and Calliope. Well, they all came this week…so there was a lot of “Go read some of the magazines.”  And I don’t even have to add , “And come talk to me about them,” because it’s like a tic with him.  As I’ve written before “narration” is a central aspect of the Charlotte Mason pedagogy, but with this one, I don’t even have to try.  I get narrated all. Freaking. Day. Long. 

— 6 —

So this happened this week:

I had purchased this book – Gods and Heroes in Art.  We have a couple of the saints-related titles  in the series, and they’re good, so since Michael is deep in the Percy Jackson books (again), I thought I’d add this to our considerable mythology collection.  I have lots of historical material, but nothing else specifically related to art.

We were leafing through it, and he paused at the “Perseus” entry.

“Wait,” he said, “I’ve seen that.  Isn’t that at our museum?”

"amy welborn"

Find the credits.

Why, yes it is.

If you had asked me? Not in a million years would I have remembered ever seeing that painting before in my entire life.

I mean…what? 10. Years. Old. Barely.

Now. Can you please remember to put your shoes in your closet? 

Thnx.

— 7 —

 (Repeat from last week and the week before…but…still pertinent)

Lent is coming!  Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love,  published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!

amy-welborn4

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

Read Full Post »

— 1 —

Okay – about Brother Sun, Sister Moon.

I’ve written about this before.  Somewhere, to far back to dig up, and I’ve defended the movie, relating how it’s a guilty pleasure for me mostly because of the emotional associations.  When I was a freshman in college, the student center at UT showed it one night and our whole crew – those of us who were active at the Catholic student center – went. There we were, deep in our friendships and community, really into this Catholic thing, in the way that mostly (only?) young people can be, and we all went and saw this movie…and came out even more ecstatic, convinced that this thing was real and beautiful.

If you want your dream to grow…

I know there are those that hate it, but even in adulthood, and even now, no, I don’t hate it, but this most recent viewing last weekend, probably 15 years at least since the last time, revealed its flaws quite clearly.

— 2 —

  • It’s not exactly Christocentric.  Not surprising, right?  Of course Christ is mentioned – Francis does say he wants to live like Christ and the apostles, but it’s not presented as his central motivation.  And naturally, Francis’ whole focus on penance – that was what he was doing, really – embracing the life of a penitent, not a homesteader, is absent. (it’s absent from most contemporary takes, even Catholic ones, as well, though. When you actually read St. Francis, it’s very clear – his motive wasn’t primarily “simplify” or even “the poor.”  It was “penance for my sins.”
  • The scene in Rome with the Pope is over the top and almost laughable.
  • He didn’t have as much actual contact with Clare after she embraced poverty as the movie suggests.  In fact, after they had established how she was to live, he didn’t see her again until he was dying.
  • I’m pretty sure it doesn’t snow in Assisi as much as the film suggests.

Good things?

  • The atmosphere is wonderful.
  • So many haunting images that might not be historically accurate but are, well.. truthy. 
  • My favorite scene in the film is this one:

And there are other good ones.  Yes, the Jesus-centeredness of Francis is not..central. But if you can balance that out with what you’ve learned from Fr. Thompson’s biography and this fantastic book….all the better.

adventures-in-assisi

Aside:  The first time Francis encounters Clare, he follows her to an area where, to his horror, lepers gather to wash. She has brought them bread, which she lays on a rock. She then warbles, “Brothers! Brothers!”   Years ago, when my daughter was maybe 5 or so, we watched the movie and for days, she would call her own (perhaps to her, leprous) big brothers by trilling, “Brothers! Brothers!” herself.

— 3 —

Speaking of Hansen’s Disease, I’m still reading The Colony, which is about the history of the leper colony at Molokai.  It’s quite fascinating, and perhaps the most important figure I’ve learned about was one who was quite well known during the early part of this century and who now has, following his presently more famous colleagues, Sts. Damien and Marianne of Molokai, his canonization cause in process:

Brother Joseph Dutton:

In late July 1886, a ship pulled into Molokai, Hawaii’s leper colony. Father Damien de Veuster always greeted the newcomers, usually lepers seeking refuge and comfort. But one passenger stood out, a tall man in a blue denim suit. He wasn’t a leper; he was Joseph Dutton, and at age 43 he came to help Father Damien. The priest warned he couldn’t pay anything, but Dutton didn’t care. He would spend forty-five years on Molokai, remaining long after the priest’s death of leprosy in 1889.

Joseph’s journey to Molokai was full of twists and turns. 

Well worth reading and contemplating!

More here

Here 

….

Before his death on March 26, 1931, he said: “It has been a happy place—a happy life.” It had been a restless life until he found happiness among the lepers of Molokai. At the time of his death, the Jesuit magazine America noted: “Virtue is never so attractive as when we see it in action. It has a power to believe that we too can rise up above this fallen nature of ours to a fellowship with the saints.”

Here.

Father Damien—then a patient himself—greeted him as “Brother” on July 29, 1886, and from that moment until Damien’s death on April 15, 1889, the two maintained an intimate friendship.  Dutton dressed Damien’s sores, recorded a statement about the priest’s purity, and worked tirelessly to honor his memory and legacy in following years.  He led the movement to name the main road “Damien Road” and wrote both personal letters and newspaper columns about his sacrifice.  Included in Dutton’s collection at Notre Dame are strips of Damien’s cloak and several finger towels that he saved in envelopes.

In his 44 years in Kalaupapa, Dutton touched thousands of lives through his selfless service.  He headed the Baldwin Home for Boys on the Kalawao side of the peninsula, where he cared physically and spiritually for male patients and orphan boys.  From laboring as a carpenter and administrator, to comforting the dying, to coaching baseball, Dutton immersed himself in his community without accepting credit; to him, work was always about answering God’s call instead of personal fame or selfish desire.

josephdutton

— 4 —

A good week for saints this week, eh?  Well, it always is, but I’m also struck by the aptness of this week’s saints for Catholic Schools Week:  Angela Merici, Thomas Aquinas and Don Bosco.

Read their lives. Contemplate their lives. Called to take different paths in varied circumstances, all listened and responded.  They prayed, they thought, they wrote, they were all creative as they, shall we say…reached out to the peripheries?

Who’d have thought it possible….

— 5 —

Speaking of Catholic schools, it was nice to see the Diocese of Birmingham featured in this NCRegister article on the impact of vouchers on Catholic schools.  This past fall, Ann Engelhart and I spoke at St. Barnabas, one of the schools mentioned, and I was so impressed with the children, who knew quite a bit about (guess who) ..St. Francis of Assisi already.

amy welborn

— 6 —

Did a homeschool roundup post here yesterday.  Here’s how Guatemala has progressed.  It will be painted today:

amy-welborn10

I mean…I wouldn’t have done the mountains that way, but it’s not my salt dough map of Guatemala!

— 7 —

 (Repeat from last week…but…still pertinent)

Lent is coming!  Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love,  published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!

amy-welborn4

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

Read Full Post »

It’s been a while since I’ve done a homeschool post, so here goes, based mostly on just what we did today.  Today:

  • Every day begins with prayer, which is a mash-up of the daily Mass readings and Morning prayer, based on Universalis    or Magnificat if I can find it. So….Thomas Aquinas today. Talking about the saint of the day also gives an opportunity to briefly and painlessly review bits of geography (we generally look at a map to see where the saint was from and traveled to), chronology (for example, practicing understanding the concept of centuries…born in 1225…what century is that?) and art. (We use this book(wonderful!) and this one – when the saint of the day is featured.  Also these to illuminate the Scripture readings.)  Much of the time, when we read the Gospel, we also pull out the Bible atlas and review where Jesus lived and walked.  (Next year, I think we will focus a lot on the Old Testament. as well).  This week, as we discussed the Conversion of Paul (in retrospect!) , we talked, of course, about Paul, his life, and used the actual real Bible to review the contents of the New Testament, what epistles are, and so on.  He practices looking passages up in the Bible and understanding Book, Chapter: Verse notation. Did the same for the feastday of Timothy and Titus.
  • And do you know what?  That is the core of religious education here.  In addition, when various seasons approach we do activities related to that. He, with his brother, regularly serves at the Casa Maria retreat house. This means that in the training to serve, he’s received an superb education in the basics of the Mass, and as he serves Masses that are celebrated by the priests who have led that weekend’s retreat, he gets an opportunity to hear generally above-average preaching. (And he is a kid who pays attention – and given where he has to sit – a couple of feet away from the ambo – it would be hard not  to listen.)  Finally, he’s part of the children’s schola at the Cathedral, where they are using the Words with Wings curriculum and he’s learning a lot through that.   So no, I’m not pushing any particular catechism on him.  He might start something like that next year, but given our household – and the mom who is insanely focused on TEACHABLE MOMENTS – I think we’re good for now. He’s 10.
  • Copywork this week has consisted of: 1 Timothy 1:1-2 (on his feast); “A Word is Dead” by Emily D (with discussion of its meaning) and this quote from Benjamin F: Never confuse motion with action. Again, with discussion of its meaning.  I think tomorrow he’ll do a bit of Bill S’s Sonnet 116 because he’s starting to memorize it. (more on that in a bit).
  • Cursive practice from this book.  I don’t buy them. Don’t spend a dime, because we have them already.  These are the books Joseph used in that grade in brick n’ mortar school that were never finished.  Apparently – as I learned at some point – the practice in class was to distribute the cursive practice books at the beginning of the year and then give them goals for finishing them, goals which were then never followed up on.  So.  There are plenty of usable pages left. Yeah.
  • Since the math that he’s doing at the moment is logic (more in a minute), he does a set of math review problems – 5 minutes’ worth – just to keep his skilz sharp.
  • Spelling – he’s in “4th grade” and a good speller but to allay his anxiety about keeping up with those in brick n’ mortar school, I have him do spelling – from a 5th grade book.  The routine?  I read him the words.  He spells all but maybe one correctly.  He shakes his head and says, “Oh, that’s right. I forgot. I’ve got it now.” Spelling done for the week, and he feels better.
  • (All of this up to this point (after prayer)  takes maybe 15-20 minutes)
  • Math:  He’s on Beast Academy 4B.  The last chapter has been on logic, and it’s stretched both of us.  A lot of puzzles, of course, and I’ve had to regularly explain to him the purpose, as I understand it:  to teach him how to view a problem, how to discern what is important and what is not and to sort out how parts relate to a whole.  I admit, it’s not my favorite. I mean….

EPSON MFP image

Wut.

Well, 4C is on the way, so next week, we’ll be all about normal things like fractions….

(and for the record I love this curriculum and, as a non-math person, am a huge fan of everything Art of Problem Solving does.  Joseph said to me once, “Mom, do you sometimes watch Richard’s videos when we’re not here?” Er, no. What ever made you think that? Adjust volume.)

  • Then Latin.  As I said before, we’re taking it slowly, using this. Today he covered 2nd and 3rd person singular of "amy welborn"spectare. We also took a slight detour to the Gloria as I reminded him of what the -mus ending would be about. (glorificamus te, adoramus te…etc) He said, “We are moose. That’s how I’ll remember it.”  Whatever works.
  • A bit of geography.  He did a few of the daily geo problems from this book – reinforcing latitude and longitude.  We also use Evan-Moor, but have gone through them up through grade 6. Yesterday he learned about legends and scale by first measuring his own foot with a ruler, then pacing out the dimensions of the dining room, then drawing a map complete with the proper number of feet, then working out the scale (1 Michael Foot = 8 inches), then working out the dimensions of the room in feet and inches.
  • Science: Again, to alleviate his fears about “keeping up,” I purchased the science textbook they use in his old school.  We follow it in a general way with a lot of supplementation.  Last week, we were very science-heavy, and did quite a few demonstrations about heat transfer.  Today, he read and reviewed and went over the chapter-end test. We’ll pick up sound & light next week. I need prisms. PRISMS.
  • Watched this video, and a few related.
  • Independent reading time, reading from the mostly animal-related books he’d checked out of the library. This one is quite amywelborn8interesting and well-done.
  • History: reading the historical fiction, Michael and the Invasion of France. Discussing related issues, looking at a map of how France was divided after the Nazi invasion.
  • We had checked out two children’s books from the Eats, Shoots, Leaves crew and read them earlier in the week, and today, he played this online game. 
  • As I mentioned last year, I discovered this neat-o free poetry memorization curriculum from Mensa.  We did “No Man is an Island” before Christmas, and it’s taken us this long to get back to it.  (And when I say, “we,” I mean it.  I’m memorizing them, too.) The second poem is Sonnet 116, so we (finally)  started that today.  We talked about what a sonnet is, read it, discussed its meaning, then watched a couple of videos of recitations of the poem in both modern English pronunciation and (presumed) original pronunciation.  Then, just because, watched a video of David Tennant declaiming 18.  (There’s a Sonnet app that looks really good, but I haven’t yet invested in it).
  • Read a chapter from Alice in Wonderland and looked at this post about interesting and varied illustrations of the book and talked about how they were the same as or different from what he had envisioned as we read.
  • Then, art!  First, a quick and easy project – this one, from my favorite, That Artist Woman.  It’s a project she did with kindergartners, but that’s okay. He enjoyed it, it took 15 minutes, and the result was very nice, plus we repurposed some of the fruit of last week’s printmaking for the trees.
  • Then we started on….a salt dough map of Guatemala.  Yes!  I had seen this post and thought it was a great idea (we’d done salt dough ornaments at Christmas).  So I told him last week that I wanted him to think of what country he’d like to do, and although I thought he’d go for Mexico, I’m not shocked that Guatemala was the choice.  If told the kid tomorrow that we were going to Tikal, he would probably levitate.

So….a start.  Tomorrow, I plunge in and make my hands think I hate them as I immerse them in salt (although..hmmm…he should probably do his fair share…yeah….) and flour, and we’ll talk about “topography” and such and he’ll make his map. Then it will dry for a couple of days and he’ll paint it.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

  • Lunch!  (Yes, all this before lunch….) I just discovered that Fantasia is on Netflix, so that was lunchtime viewing while I chopped carrots and onions for Italian Wedding Soup.
  • Practice piano. Bach Invention #1 and this Beethoven (not played at even close to that tempo yet).  Agony because the (excellent) piano instructor changed up the Bach fingering on him.  But…onward!
  • And….we’re done.
  • Wednesday and Thursdays are our only really “full” days of “school.” (and once the weather warms up…see below)  Mondays, he has piano for an hour mid-day, and Tuesdays he either has his homeschool boxing sessions in the afternoons or (once a month) 2-hour science center homeschool class. Fridays are also short-ish because brother gets out of school at 2 on Fridays.
  • But today: Full day, then pick up brother at 3, they shoot hoops for a few minutes here, then take him (Michael) to schola downtown, then back to eat that soup, then out to brother’s Scout meeting where one of Michael’s friends who also has a Scout sibling will be hanging out as well – and they and another child will play outside on the grounds and inside on the basketball court for a good 90 minutes.
  • Home. Shower, then settle down in his room to read – mostly Percy Jackson, with detours to Asterix, Lucky Luke and TinTin, probably until 11 or so. He doesn’t have a “bedtime”  – as long as he’s reading, he can stay up for as long as he likes.
  • So unsocialized! So overprotected and sheltered!

That’s today.  Tomorrow:  More Shakespeare, work on Guatemala in salt dough. Etc. Basketball practice.

"amy welborn"

Once the weather warms up (which will probably be next week.  Sorry, Minnesota!) we’ll venture out for hikes and walks and field trips and such.  I just have no tolerance for sub-50 degree weather. I mean…none. I just sit inside and fume until God cooperates and raises the temperature.

Also, I am trying to settle on a spring break destination.  It’s dependent on airfare.  Once I do that, we’ll shift gears a bit and start preparing for that through reading in geography, history and so on.

Teachable Moments!

Read Full Post »

amy-welborn4

— 1 —

Lent is coming!  Full list of resources here, but take special note today, if you don’t mind, of these Stations of the Cross..and pass it on to your parish!

John Paul II’s Biblical Way of the Cross, published by Ave Maria Press.  This, again, is available as an actual book and in a digital version, in this case as an app.  Go here for more information. (The illustrations are by Michael O’Brien)

"amy welborn"A few years ago, I wrote a Stations of the Cross for young people called No Greater Love,  published by Creative Communications for the Parish. They put it out of print for a while…but now it’s back!

amy-welborn4

— 2 —

Podcast listening?  Not much of great interest this past week, since I’m mostly concentrating on that Couch to 5k thing.  I’m up to Week 8! 28 minutes! (But that’s on an indoor track – we’ll see what happens when I am able to go outdoors again, given the harder surfaces and more, er, varied terrain outside.

So, Melvin lost me this week with Phenomenology. I tried – I really did, but listening to philosophy talk about Husserl, Heidegger and meaning through earphones while running with youth basketball going on below was pretty much a lost cause.  What was interesting was this program on Zola in England.  After the Dreyfus trial, Zola fled to London – by doing so, he enabled keeping the case open.  While in England, he began work on his last series of books, the first of which was called Fecundity or Fruitfulness – and, although Zola is a hard slog (I read Lourdes – barely), the premise is fascinating and timely – in which Zola blames oppressive social and economic systems for discouraging the lower classes from reproducing, decrying contraception, abortion and child abandonment….

— 3 —

I’m currently reading The Colony, which is about the history of the leper colony at Molokai. The origins of the place are so sad, an example of incompetent and deceptive government action in the face of tragedy.

Related, but somewhat contrasting is this fascinating story that provided me with a brief excursion down the rabbit hole this past week:

In 1803, King Charles of Spain ordered an extraordinary expedition: Smallpox was, of course, taking a terrible toll on the Spanish colonies so…..

On September 1, 1803, King Charles IV of Spain, who had lost one of his own children to smallpox, issued a royal order to all royal officers and religious authorities in his American and Asian domains, announcing the arrival of a vaccination expedition and commanding their support to

  • vaccinate the masses free of charge,
  • teach the domains how to prepare the smallpox vaccine, and
  • organize municipal vaccination boards throughout the domains to record the vaccinations performed and to keep live serum for future vaccinations.

The expedition to vaccinate the population in South America against smallpox was a public health undertaking of staggering proportions. A small group set out by ship and horse to traverse present-day Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, and Bolivia, carrying the vaccine and administering it in villages and cities along the way. The territory was not only vast but also brutally harsh, with precipitous mountains, dense jungles, and uncharted rivers. The expedition traveled in primitive riverboats and on mules when the terrain was too rugged for horses.

First Destination: Puerto Rico

The María Pita left the Spanish harbor of La Coruña on November 30, 1803, with the smallpox vaccination expedition team consisting of a director, Dr. Francisco Xavier Balmis; an assistant director, Dr. Jóse Salvany Lleopart; and several assistants and paramedics. The ship reached Puerto Rico in February 1804 with its cargo of vaccine serum preserved between sealed glass plates; also onboard were 21 children from the orphanage at La Coruña who carried the vaccine through arm-to-arm vaccinations performed sequentially during the ship’s journey, and thousands of copies of a treatise describing how to vaccinate and preserve the serum, recounts José Rigau-Pérez in an article on the smallpox vaccine in Puerto Rico.

More here and here. 

— 4 —

I’m going to try to do a learning post tonight, but in short, this week was a week of lots of science (properties of matter, heat transfer), art (printmaking) and puzzles (logic chapter of Beast Academy)

"amy welborn"

Also, here’s a fun thing:  Hit the Lego store when the staff is unpacking a shipment and you just might find yourself the recipient of big bags of random pieces they don’t have room to stock in those bins on the back wall….and it might be your lucky day.

— 5 —

Through reading H. Allen’s Smith’s The Pig in the Barber Shop, I discovered a book called Father Juniper and the General, "amy welborn"written in the late 50’s by another American ex-pat in Mexico named James Norman.  It’s in the Don Camillo – Father Malachy genre – priest does battle with and outwits local civil/social authorities, and it’s amusing.  I’m surprised I’d never heard of it, considering I thought I’d read or at least heard of every vaguely Catholic themed middle-brow book published in the US in the mid=century when I was editing the Loyola Classics, but apparently not!

— 6 —

I actually accompanied my kids to the movies the other day (they are old enough to go on their own, together now) – Big Hero 6, which was…good!  As usual with movies today (get off my lawn!) the climactic battle goes on waaaaay too long, but the setting – a mythical more Far Eastern version of San Francisco – was fascinating and the animated characters were surprisingly well individuated.

Speaking of movies: over the holiday weekend, we watched Strangers on a Train, which I enjoyed for some fantastic set-pieces and Robert Walker’s compelling performance, and didn’t enjoy for the mostly-stiff other performances and off-putting amoral tone surrounding the murder of Granger’s wife and the “happy ending” of him and his paramour.  I just thought that was so weird.

Also, The Trouble With Angels, which I hadn’t seen in a while, but is so good. Still. I had remembered the Hayley Mills’ character’s embrace of religious life as more of a surprise, and while it is a bit of a twist, the really observant viewer can see it coming, and her spiritual discomfort and awakening is sketched rather well, as she confronts her own fears about getting old and dying , encounters mercy again and again in the Rosalind Russel’s Mother Superior, and observes the ties of family among the sisters, a kind of family she’s never experienced herself.  It’s based on a memoir called Life With Mother Superior by Jane Trahey, a female pioneer in advertising, and the Hayley Mills character is based on a friend of hers who really did go on to become a Dominican Sinsinawa! 

— 7 —

 

Better Call Saul actually looks like it might be…good.  When it was first floated, I thought, “Oh, no….” and when it was announced as a thing, I thought, “Not a good idea.”  But in reading about the show’s premise, in which there are actually emotional stakes at work and seeing previews, I’m getting excited.  I’ve read a couple of reviewers who opine that it’s better than BB…hard to imagine,but… Love the logo!

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

Read Full Post »

amy-welborn4

— 1 —

Slow progress on the whole broken-roof thing.  Adjustor came, finished his work, and that check’s in the mail. Now I’m just waiting to hear from the roofer to schedule.

I say it once a month:  I like my house a lot, and love my neighborhood, but after this, I’m done with home ownership. After these boys are up and out, it will be time to pack it in and become a renter again – wherever. Homeownership is vastly overrated, especially if you’re not handy and don’t have a maintenance staff at the ready.

— 2 —

Speaking of home and homes, please check out Emily Stimpson’s new blog on The Catholic Table. It looks wonderful and will be, I can already tell, a wonderful spot to read and reflect about food and Christian values of friendship and hospitality that are applicable to everyone  in any stage of life.

For me and for the friends who sit around my table, food does what it’s supposed to do: It creates family. And it does that not because I’m some Cordon Bleu trained chef. I’m not. I’m just a woman who wants people to know how precious they are—to me and to God. Because God shows us that truth every day by feeding us with his Body and Blood, I do the same by feeding everyone who walks through my door.

That’s really all I do. I love, so I cook. And it works. In a world wracked by loneliness, where more than half of all Americans claim to have no close friends, a little love and a lot of cooking go a long way.

— 3 —

Today was fire day here at the home school.  No, don’t call Allstate again. We have been following a basic 4th grade science curriculum, so the past weeks it’s been all about matter – first what it is, then states of matter and now the difference between "amy welborn"physical and chemical changes.  What better chemical change than fire?  Did lots of demonstrations, some of which we’d done a couple of years ago with brother, but they were worth repeating.  If you’re interested:

Jumping flames

Fruit fireballs  – my favorite – had never done this one before.

Lowering a sieve low enough so metal conducts the heat away and the flame appears hollow.

Fireproof balloon

Interesting, simple demonstration in which you lower a glass over a lit candle sitting in water. Of course, the flame goes out, but then the water level rises. Why? Well go see. 

One of the things I like about the Naked Scientists site is that the explanations of the demonstrations come with diagrams, which is quite helpful, and not something you see very often.

as well as the see-how-CO2-puts-out-a-candle thing.

(Also watched this video on the nature of a flame and read about the chemistry of matches. I’m so stupid. I didn’t know that the strip on safety match boxes was actually a chemical needed to ignite, hence the “safety” designation (since it won’t combust just by striking on anything.))

— 4 —

We’ve settled into a habit of daily watching of videos from one or most of the following:

Science Dump (be careful here, because they do have videos on sex-related matters – I’m saying, it’s not a site in which a  kid should roam freely)

The Kids Should See This

Smarter Every Day (guy lives in Huntsville, right up the road)

And then the various divergent paths on which these particular links lead us.

The Bearing Blogger recommended these videos on the brain – we’ll be watching those, probably with the 8th grader.  They are the 2011 Christmas Lectures of the Royal Academy.

Which then, of course, led me to explore the whole history of the Christmas Lectures at the Royal Institute- 

There had been afternoon lecture courses for adults at the Ri since 1800 and probably some people brought their children along, but in 1825 someone had the idea of putting on lectures during the holiday breaks aimed at ‘ a juvenile auditory’ to introduce a young audience to a subject through spectacular demonstrations

and then Michael Faraday’s in particular, since we were all about fire this week, anyway.

You can read his Christmas lectures – on the candle – here. 

— 5 —

Random school-related stuff:

  • Satisfied with knowing the Greek alphabet, and having applied it to various Christian-related minutiae (chi-rho, Alpha Omega) and some scientific applications, we’re onto Latin now.  We’re starting with this, and then once he gets some basic grammar, we’ll go into Visual Latin – we already have it from the 8th grader, so why not use it?
  • Finally finished Archimedes and the Door of Science.  We used it as an inspiration for some science work, some history, and, using Brave Writer, copywork and dictation. It took a long time..why? Partly because we’d stop and do activities related to the material in the book, but it wasn’t that simple because I never had the proper materials, and it would take me days of remembering and forgetting to finally gather them, and then it was Christmas…etc. I have Galen and the Gateway to Medicine, so we’ll do that next. 
  • One more chapter in Beast Academy 4B and it’s a doozy – logic.  It’s not super hard, but every section is, per usual, a bit of a challenge at first.  What’s fascinating to me is that despite initial protests, he pretty much gets it within seconds.  He was doing these Minesweeper puzzles and got to the point at which he could look at the most challenging ones for maybe ten seconds and then fill it in properly, while I’m still staring dumbly at it.
  • Well, I never said I was logical.
  • Learned about the Dewey Decimal System.  Here’s a good quick review game.
  • We do a lot of science and engineering-related stuff. We were somewhat obsessed with DaveHax over the past couple of weeks.
  • Together, we are reading Alice in Wonderland. Revisiting this book is worth a separate blog post.  You should take a look at the book again, if you have a chance. I probably should go read some analysis, but boy, it’s trippy. An almost uncomfortably accurate expression of the subconscious and dreaming – all about anxiety and feeling out of control.
  • Michael finds it weird and amusing and we do things like pick out subjects, verbs and direct objects from the sentences.
  • Spent some time this week with All the World’s a Stage.” We read it, listened to readings of it (Morgan Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch were handy online), discussed it, looked up unfamiliar vocabulary (quite a bit!), he memorized a couple of lines and did some of it for copywork.
  • Talked about limericks, read a lot, and he wrote a few.
  • (Other poetry – we have plenty of poetry books, but I checked this one out from the library, and like the selections.  They are different.)
  • No travels this week. We’re still adjusting to the basketball schedule and the 2-hour art class which was supposed to be on Mondays got moved to Thursdays, but then they called and said they might not have enough to run the class, so just sit tight until next week, at which point I’m thinking..you had enough when it was on Monday, right? So that messed us up as I set aside not just one, but two afternoons for that, only to see it cancelled.
  • We did a bit of art ourselves this week – played around with rubbings over various textures  with various media.  (The best texture was the underside of an unused tile, which has a raised honeycomb texture).  Then I pulled out this plastic zip bag I have with dozens of random words I’d cut out from magazines, and he used the rubbings as background for some found poetry.
  • I tried to do this type of found poetry with him – to circle words on the page of an old book.  I just liked the idea.  It didn’t work out very well, though, perhaps because he’s a little young and thinks rather literally, but also perhaps (I thought later) because the only book worn out enough to use up on this was a Beverly Clearly Ramona paperback that was falling apart.  As I looked back at the pages he’d tried to use, I saw the the language was so basic and flat (although entertaining!) – not a lot more than names with “said” or “asked” and various  nouns..it was probably not the best choice for that kind of exercise.
  • Oh, there was the Science Center class this week - topic: geology. Core samples taken from cupcakes, I understand.
  • Reading of library books on animals, Honduras…other topics that strike his fancy.
  • This is very, very good: Nix the Tricks.  Take a look, and forward to people who need it.

— 5.5 —

I don’t watch Downton Abbey. Sorry. I’ve got nothing on that score.

— 6 —

I was talking to yet another person considering homeschooling the other day, and I said, rather forcefully, I’m afraid, something like this:

The caricature is that homeschoolers do this in order to protect children from the world, to insulate and live within a bubble.  Perhaps that is the case for some – but who of us does not seek to create some sort of bubble for our children?  The bubble of privilege, the bubble of the Road to College and Success, the bubble of materialism.  Bubbles.

But my motivation was the opposite.  I was frustrating with the way that institutional schools contract the world.  It didn’t matter that the worldview of the schools my children have attended  – a Catholic one – is one that I share.  A Catholic worldview should actually be diverse and vibrant and alive with culture, so that’s not the issue.

The short version:  I didn’t take up homeschooling because I wanted my children to see less of the world. No, I did so because I wanted to help them encounter and engage with more.

And I have the means, the time, these are my last two – and my conscience finally wouldn’t let me say no any longer.

— 7 —

 LENT IS COMING. 

Get your resources here!!

amy-welborn4amy-welborn-3

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

Read Full Post »

amy-welborn4

— 1 —

.Then there was the night the tree fell on my house….

"amy welborn"

— 2 —

Last Saturday night, some big storms swept through here, and about 7:45, we heard and felt a serious THUD.  I could see some branches from the back patio glass doors, and thought it was just that – branches.  Until I ventured further and saw..no it was A TREE.

It’s not too bad.  Exterior damage and a little bit of damage inside a closet.  As the tree guy said, “It could have been worse.” (It usually could have, in anything. Remember that.) Specifically, if this were a newer home, it probably would have taken that whole wall out.

The good thing about homeowner’s insurance is that at this point, the adjustor and the roofing guy are figuring it out, so most of the time, I forget that it even happened.

— 3 —

10-year old has been bumped up in his music lessons – out of regular leveled curricula into mo’ serious stuff.  Bach’s First Invention, a Beethoven Sonatina.  It’s a transition, to be sure, so to ease it, I’m going Suzuki for a while and practicing the pieces myself, as well as adding in my favorite Invention from lessons past - #4.

— 4 —

Podcasts, podcasts…well, I’m still focused on Couch to 5k, and have finished week 7, still alive – running 25 minutes at a time. It’s probably deceptive though, since it’s on an indoor track. Once the weather warms up again (57/8 is my threshold for outdoor running. *Wimp*), I’ll take it back outside and we’ll see how I cope on the slightly hilly course I usually take.

Other than that, recently, I listened to the Great Lives podcasts on Louisa May Alcott and Dorothy Sayers and finally got in the last episode of the really excellent 3-part series called Global Classical Music – A New World Symphony an exploration of the explosion in popularity of Western Classical music outside of Europe. Really worth a listen, and the last moments, in which an Indian teacher explains the importance of this music – without denigrating his own important musical traditions – moves into the final strains of (of course) Dvorak’s New World Symphony  – are quite moving.

— 5 —

The only field trip we took this week was a short, but meaningful one  – to the research branch of our Central public library downtown. The research building, connected by an above-the-street walkway to the newer building, was actually the original public library.  It boasts some wonderful murals which you can read about  – and see better versions than I was able to photograph – here. I found the murals in the former children’s room particularly lovely.  A different world.

"amy welborn"

View down into main research room.

"amy welborn"

Closer view of mural in children’s room – fairy tales and such.

"amy welborn"

Long view of former children’s room at Birmingham Library.

— 6 —

 I read Dawn Powell’s A Time to Be Born this week.  I generally enjoyed it – it was enjoyable mean in its depiction of highflown self-important New York media culture before the war (supposedly, one of the central characters is modeled on Clare Booth Luce, although Powell always denied it), but I found it a bit padded.

The other day in a used bookstore I picked up a copy of H. Allen Smith’s The Pig in the Barber Shop a travelogue of a trip to Mexico, published in 1958. I love old travel books – I find them to be an interesting way to read history, and I especially am always on the lookout for descriptions of Catholic Stuff, descriptions which are far more helpful in understanding the past than the presumptions and ideological narratives of the present.

Smith was a prolific journalist whom I only know because of his book, and the movie based upon it, Rhubarb, about a cat who inherits a baseball team.  I think I read that book half a dozen times as a kid.

I’m enjoying this one – and bonus – I opened it up, and found that it was signed by Smith!

— 7 —

 LENT IS COMING. 

Get your resources here!!

amy-welborn4 amy-welborn-3

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

Read Full Post »

…all call for books.

(I say “e-book,” but it’s a pdf file…so, you know. But…free!)

"amy welborn"

One of the features of this book that might be of interest to you is that it’s not specifically for Catholic moms.  It’s for all women , whether you are a mom or not, whether you have young children, older children, or no children, whether you’re married or not.  The publishers were determined that this book be relevant to all women, no matter what their state in life – and they were right.

"amy welborn"

You can find out more about them at the publishers’ links above, or you can can purchase signed copies from me here. 

  • Do you know someone who returned to Mass at Christmas for the first time and was a little confused? Know someone who’s kicking their RCIA process into high gear over the coming months? The How to Book of the Mass might be helpful.

Here’s an excerpt from the book. 

"Michael Dubruiel"

"amy welborn"

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: