This and That, -or another week in August-

These past days I was considering what else to bring to this blogging corner.  Should I talk more about our studies or lessons?, or should I write again about how our life is truly wonderful?… well, at least if and when I look at it in perspective. I could also talk about how despairing some days are. Hmmm… I prefer to stay with the main picture. So, today, you will get a potpourri of goodness I need myself, and it may, incidentally, help you remember your blessings too.

Opening this post is my quick drawing of a zinnia at my dear friend Heather’s home. I love her garden, front and back, her flowers, her home, and her friendship.

Next is a picture of a tea blend I looked for at the supermarket. I am trying to copy cat Jeanne, currently in Scotland. Hers is glorious Twinnings tea, Intense Lime and Ginger. This, I know, is not the same, but it is a very soothing and spunky flavor.

More pictures of the girls journals. They are really taking to their nature journals this year. I believe being committed to walk one day every week, or, if not, to surely draw at home, makes the difference.

Our round table after one productive day this week. On Monday, week 11 starts! I have to mark down the weeks for next term George Washington’s World, and print the next life of Plutarch notes, and get ready for the next Shakespeare, a comedy this time, his famous Midsummer Nights Dream. The girls will connect with it more than with Hamlet, though I can say, much of Hamlet’s drama has stayed with them.

I have to say that preparing and reading for the girls lessons is not a burden but a joy. I don’t get all that ramble and complains from those who say they have no time for reading all to them -as if they resented being involved in what their children read for their studies. Or all the preoccupation in others to read every.single.book…

OK. Homeschooling, -and for that matter, raising children, and life in general-, is not easy, but it should and it can be SIMPLE. More than that, it should be JOYOUS. If it is not, the fault is not in the curriculum, method, books, independence -or lack thereof- of your children, but in YOUR APPROACH to it.  I don’t know when I stopped worrying about planning and making elaborate plans in paper, and started living in constant motion towards learning. I do always observe the girls, and work so that the few things I know happen. Then I add on those practices according to what I see they are ready for, and what I read and learn should happen in their next stage in their studies as well as in life.

If you wonder about us, yes, we still have meltdowns and crisis, regarding their behavior with friends, or related to their studies… but joy prevails. It is not I who tells you, it is Him.

I cannot believe the connections children make, and how much they remember. As I was reading the Crassus selection for this week to my 9 year old daughter, she remembered from two years ago, that Joan of Arc won a battle in which only 6 men died. (Crassus, from Plutarch’s Lives, in week 10 of our studies, has a very gore description of the battle they fought against the Parthians).

Year 4 is, no surprise, infinitely well thought and weaved by the amazing ladies at Ambleside Online. All the books have so many confluences and overlaps, and ideas and connections among them, flow all the time in our minds.

Some of my new reads:

That Hideous Strength. This is an enigmatic book – to me. I do not want to read reviews or anything like it. I had never read any of his fiction for grown ups, only his non fiction, and Narnia. My daughter asked me, “C.S Lewis?”, “What is the book about, mom?”. I told her I am only in the 4th chapter, and so far it is about an organization with dubious interests, and a man who works at a college or university, and his wife, and their new marriage which is going through some struggles, since the man is very obsessed with his work at the university and his role in this committee that is also offering him to be part of a new enterprise. His wife is having strange dreams or nightmares, and they seem premonitions.

It reminds me of the Firm, and the wife reminds me of Caesar’s wife before he was assassinated by Brutus. It is by no means, a bit strange to hear Lewis writing fiction for grown ups.

This is a self portrait. I had the remote in my right hand. This picture tells you to read. Read in your kitchen while food is cooking, while you clean up a bit.

As I was reading a book that I waited for expectantly, Circle of the Seasons, by Edwin Way Teale, and I am instantly loving it. It is a journal of sorts, with an entry by the author each day of the year, where he talks about what he observes in nature around him, in his garage, by the woods, and some of his thoughts.

On January 14th, he wrote about the sounds of winter, and why it seems that sounds carry further on cold air. He talks about a farmer in Indiana who can tell the temperature by listening. He writes this:

The squeaking of the snow is produced by sharp edges of frozen crystals rubbing against each other. In mild weather, when the mercury stands just a little below freezing, the edges are less hard, more easily blunted. But as the mercury descends, the crystals become correspondingly harder, friction mounts and the high-pitched complaint of the rubbing corners and edges increases.

The drop of the mercury is also accompanied by the condensing of the atmosphere. When air is warmed, it expands and the molecules separate; when it is cooled, it contracts and the molecules draw closer together. This is the secret of far-carrying sounds on the winter air. The denser the medium, the better it transmits sound waves.

That is why, I paraphrase, sounds are louder under water, since water is denser, and hardly noticeable the higher up in the air we go.

I am so indebted to the ladies at Ambleside Online. Without them, I would not know there are so many genres worth reading, such as geography books with Halliburton, biographies, history, natural science. And without them, I will never have known that science starts with observation, and with observation of nature. Naturalists like Teale know much about science, and I dare say that scientists in what we regard as more sophisticated branches of science, know first and foremost the world around them, starting with the skies, animals, plants, insects, earth, fishes…

Later in the week, as we read from Madam How and Lady Why about earthquakes, we are also reading How did we find out about earthquakes, by Asimov. Not because we have to “complement”, or “do more science”, but just because we happen to like his books, and my daughter is a science-nature lover. And boom, we learned that because of measuring the waves to know more about earthquakes, scientists discover much about the underground composition of the earth. And they inferred crucial information by the way seismic waves traveled, faster or slower depending on the density of what they encountered.  I was so excited to have read about sound waves and density two days before this!

Last two pictures. 
On top, my oldest reading to my neighbor’s lovely girl. A Rosemary Well’s book. This one is from the library. My youngest still checks her books out, the titles we don’t owe, lol. 
Below is Daisy, my dear friend’s new puppy dog. I took pictures of my friend, her family, -Daisy included-. She was awarded best teacher of the year in her school at the end of the school year, and during this upcoming year she will be recognized as such, and she needed current pictures for one of the bulletin boards. She is a wonderful first grade two immersion program teacher, and a very inspiring person.
Thanks for reading my ramblings, and I hope you have a great weekend.
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