When it comes to being thankful, I am sometimes overwhelmed by the goodness and love in our lives. A few immediate thanks that come to mind (with a few attributions):
A few fun ways + recipes to spend all the extra family-time....
Johnny Appleseed's Thanksgiving verse (also a coloring page)
An Old Fashioned Thanksgiving by Louisa May Alcott - a perfect tale to share with the family when you can steal a little couch time
Animal sewing cards - to keep the little ones bemused during all the cooking
A history of pumpkin pie - for the curious
Printable Thanksgiving toys and thingamabobs from the Toymaker
All the fresh pumpkin paid off with this recipe, well-loved by my entire family.
You will need:
1. After chopping the pumpkin, onion, potatoes, and apple, heat butter in a large pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook until it turns golden brown (about 5 minutes). Add garlic and cook for one more minute,
2. Stir in curry powder, salt, and pepper.
3. Add pumpkin and potatoes and cook for 5 minutes, stirring. (If the pan gets dry, just add a half-cup of water.)
4. Pour in 1 1/2 cups of water and add large cube of chicken bouillon, stirring to blend. Add cubed apple to the pan. Cover and reduce heat to medium. After 15 minutes, add honey if you'd like that extra kick.
5. Replace cover and cook until pumpkin and potatoes are tender (about 5 to 10 minutes more).
6. Garnish will fresh cilantro or freshly-chopped green onions.
Courage is defined as the mental and moral strength to venture, perservere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.
Synonyms for courage: bravery, gall, boldness, boldness, valor, fearlessness, fortitude
Antonyms for courage: cowardice, fear, nervousness
Copywork and Recitations
Poems and Songs
Art and Images - For notebooking pages and journaling.
Activities and Crafts
For parents and teachers, who enjoy learning with their children and have discovered that secret joy of homeschooling which involves a lifelong intellectual and spiritual adventure, here are a few inspiring materials:
The cashew family (Anacardiaceae) is a group of about 600 species of plants, most of which are tropical in distribution, although some occur in the temperate zone. The cashew family contains many types of sumac, which you can view and explore in this printable brochure.
Almost all members of the cashew family are trees or shrubs, though some are vines. Many species have foliage, fruits, or bark on the stems and roots that contain acrid, an often milky resin, and saps that are irritating or poisonous if touched or eaten. The leaves are typically compound, with at least three if not more leaflets per leaf. The flowers are small, five-parted, insect pollinated, and arranged in compact inflorescences. The fruits are either a one-seeded drupe or a many-seeded berry, and are generally eaten and dispersed by birds or small mammals.
Open nature notebooks. We found the tree above at the Arboretum yesterday, and have decided that it must be the Chinese pistache, or Pistacia chinensis. It still seems funny to imagine its kinship to cruel poison ivy, but we humans have some ugly brothers as well. Off to leaf rubbing, tracing, and classifying we go. Here is a close-up of the Chinese pistache leaves (and Micah's old-man hair).
Our hat basket waits stocked by the door to cover little heads in cold weather. I know Suebee and Pops would be proud to see Max and Micah picking their own hats to wear before each outing! Especially when their choices are so individually delicious. As for Sunday music on a Saturday, I relish the weekends when we hibernate and overdose on family time. My family is sacred to me. Nothing brings me joy more than the moments between whining, dirty diapers, boo-boos, and hurt feelings when we are all four together. Okay, four and a pint...
Means running to Kinko's (or my mom's house, when she allows) to print our fun for the day. Since this requires a bit of planning on my part, I thought I'd strive for a head-start on the coming holiday season. Though I've posted quite a bit of this stuff already, I never seem to get around to printing it. So please bear with my long attempt at creating an easy print list for myself. Who ever said blogging, like most human activities, wasn't inherently selfish was inherently untrustworthy.
In math, we are still working on multiplication the old-fashioned way. Though it is difficult, I think learning to "talk" math makes "thinking" math easier when it comes to real-life applications.
In language arts, Max practices handwriting with the letters H, h, I, i, J, j, and K, k.
Copywork for the week includes moral summaries of Aesop's fables, which we have added to our virtue notebook.
Finishing up with Ancient Mesopotamia, Jericho and Hammurabi and enjoying those fantastic Egyptians. Also getting serious about timelines with Charlotte Mason's Book of Centuries, a lovely freebie.
Literary Arts + Theater
We're wrapping up our exploration of compassion this week.
Also in the plans for the weekend is the construction of a shadow puppet theater.
Arts + Music
Looking forward to Arachnids and nature notebooking:
I wanted to climb it, but just as I grabbed a branch and swung up my legs, I got one of those sharp uterine pains which mark various stages of pregnancy. In this case, I'm about 10 weeks into this unplanned adventure...
Max is elated- "Mommy, my prayer came true!! I prayed for a family of five!" - while I am a little nervous (it seems so soon, my back, blah, blah, blah...) but excited.
There's no better way to describe it than to say, "golden".... It was that. After watching a documentary about Dietrich Bonhoeffer the night before, I felt strangely light, as if even the slightest wind is part of God's plan to bring that little leaf right beside the ant seeking a mid-day shelter. So much beauty it takes my breath away.
Even big boys have to be carried sometimes... when there are so many lovely, luminous puddles begging to be conquered in crocs with socks.
Like father, like son. Watering the plants is fun.
Max and Micah watched Patrick talk to a homeless man for almost half an hour. Due to the thunderstorms the night before, all his clothing was soaked. We noticed how carefully he laid it out to dry. Patrick discovered that this man was a mathematician who had wandered to Tuscaloosa via New Orleans. His interest in infinite set theories led the discussion to God. The homeless man noted that he didn't recognize Christians from Purpose-Driven-lifers anymore, that Jesus' love is not present in modern self-helpisms in the way that it is present in the Bible.... A good man, the wandering stranger who comes into our lives for a brief moment yet leaves us somehow hungry.
Max shares freeze-dried fruit with Micah.
Here is how my husband described the event to his brother, Bradley, in an email:
Max lost his first tooth this morning. He was eating a waffle and came up to me with something small and white in his hand asking me what it was. I thought it was gristle or something (like you find in a hamburger) and thought it was strange it'd be in his waffle. "Was that in your waffle, Max?" I asked him looking at the thing in his hand. "I don't know, it's hard." I took it from his hand and, by golly, it was a tooth. I looked at Max and said, "Max! You lost your first tooth!" He smiled. Right there in the front bottom row was a missing tooth and a bloodied mouth. I ran him to the mirror to look. He screeched with glee and ran to tell Mommy and Micah. I got him a gold $1 coin to put under his pillow tonight.
Max watches the inner workings of a piano that Patrick took apart and put back together. Once a week, Max takes piano lessons which he anticipates and raves about. I am so happy for him- and grateful to my mother for adding music to his life in this way.
Little Micah, always eager to follow in Max's footsteps, has designated herself his primary accompanist. Here you can see the world of music from Micah's mini-vantage point...
It is always wonderful to see my friend, Lisa Channell, who also happens to be Max's godmother and one of the people who really encouraged me during my pregnancy with Max. She stopped in for a visit from Chicago last weekend, and spent the afternoon chasing dogs in the yard and conducting science experiments with Max.
Gary surprised Patrick a few weeks ago with tickets to the Alabama v. LSU game, so Patrick and Max attended their first football game at the Bryant-Denny Stadium. It took Max a little while to adjust to the chaos and hairspray (note the serious expressions on his face), but by half-time, he was having a blast.
Apparently, it was an exciting game to see. Max also fulfilled a Tiger Cub requirement to attend a sports game and learn the rules.
Since Patrick and Max had 8th row seats, Max got a close-up view of the action. But not close enough to distract him from the books I packed in his backpack just in case his feelings for football turned out to more closely approximate his mom's...
He's reading one of his favorite books, The Knight's Handbook.
I'm not good at sewing with patterns yet- the natural rebel in me prefers to experiment with fabrics and cuttings until something exciting emerges. Better than a pattern is the inspiration. And here are a few I've stumbled across today...
Since my dad has mentioned that I don't make CDs for him anymore, I thought I'd do the unbeatable- create a playlist and skip the cost of postage + the uncanny likelihood that I'll get my act together and mail something. Happy birthday sweet dad. Just right-click and save as on each tune and then you can burn your own CD from this playlist intended to brighten your afternoons and sweeten your nights. Te iubesc.
Swept Away (Sentimental Version) - The Avett Brothers
A Sunday Smile - Beirut
With Every Wish - Bruce Springsteen
One (U2 cover) - Vanessa Paradis
St. Judy's Comet - Paul Simon
Lonely Old Lies - Neko Case
Love Love Love - The Mountain Goats
Am iubit si-am sa iubescu - Dona Dumitru-Siminica
Weewonderfuls free paper dolls - to buy a little time for sewing and working on the projects below.
All the beautiful, wonderful things I want to make for my children, and my nephews, and the munchkins in Romania....
All buttoned up wool children's skirt (I have just the sweater for this.)
Today is our wedding anniversary, and we are celebrating in small, special ways. Patrick took over the homeschooling for this morning, and I love watching him interact with Max on the topic of Gilgamesh and immortality. There is so much wisdom and beauty in the past.
We look so stunned. And cold...
For homeschooling this week, a few Romanian tales lovingly transcribed by another mother:
And a little treat for art, a story exercise on an Edward Dulac painting:
I've put a little asterisk by the patterns or tutorials which might make lovely holiday gifts, for those inclined to make some gifts.
For decorating + the home
For the ladies
For the babies
For the children
For anyone you deem worthy
For the gentlemen
Mark your calendars...Storyteller Molly W. Catron will be sharing stories on this coming Monday evening at 8 p.m. in the upstairs portion of Smith Hall (the Natural History Museum). If you haven't had the opportunity to experience an old-fashioned raconteur with your family, this might be it.
Molly has been telling stories for over twenty years. She lives on a farm in East Tennessee with husband, Wayne, a herd of goats, three cows, three dogs and a bird. She is Nana to three granddaughter and two grandsons and loves to play the guitar, make jewelry, sew, and sit on the porch. You can listen to a few of Molly's stories for free here.
If you'd like to keep current on local storytelling events, join the Facebook group, Storytelling Club. Julie Guthrie will keep you abreast of all storytelling-related events in the Tuscaloosa area.
Compassion is "fellow-feeling" - the ability to feel for others. Compassion is a human emotion prompted by the pain of others. More vigorous than empathy, the feeling commonly gives rise to an active desire to alleviate another's suffering. Compassion acknowledges and respects the suffering of others. It often leads us to be merciful rather than critical.
THE LIFE OF ST. FRANCIS OF ASSISI - St. Francis's compassion for others was rooted in his love for God's creation. Known to call the moon, "Sister Moon," and the sun, "Brother Sun", St. Francis took a vow of poverty and dedicated his life to serving and loving God. He traveled around Italy with fellow friars begging for alms to care for lepers and the sick. St. Francis even preached to animals, as well as human beings. His fellow feeling filled him with love and reverence.
Prayer of St. Francis by Sarah MacLachlan
THE FABLE OF THE LION AND THE MOUSE This fable by Aesop shows how showing mercy to the weak, one way of demonstrating compassion, can have practical benefits as well as moral ones.
ANDROCLES AND THE LION This fable by Aesop also shows how the compassion of a slave saves a lion.
THE PARABLE OF THE GOOD SAMARITAN In this parable, Jesus emphasizes the importance of cultivating compassion for those who are seemingly different from us. Jesus shows that every man is our neighbor.
COMPASSION IN POETRY Compassion is such a rich and wonderful virtue that many poems have been written with compassion at their core. Discuss how these poems present different visions and aspects of compassion. Use them for copywork and memorization.
COMPASSION IN DAILY LIFE To explore how compassion appears in our daily lives, or the difference between compassionate and uncompassionate responses, I created this worksheet offering a hypothetical example for Max.
"Compassion is a keen awareness of the interdependence of all things." (Thomas Merton)
Ancient Sumerian Cuneiform Writing
I like Susan Wise Bauer's educational philosophy, but sometimes I feel like the History of the World texts don't delve deeply enough for Max's curiosity. In fact, the stories could use a little enriching. So we're having fun enriching on the side...
Since we're starting our exploration of the virtue of compassion in a few days, I've found a few possible pages for the Virtue Book on compassion.
SOME solemn and superficial people (for nearly all very superficial people are solemn) have declared that the fairy-tales are immoral; they base this upon some accidental circumstances or regrettable incidents in the war between giants and boys, some cases in which the latter indulged in unsympathetic deceptions or even in practical jokes. The objection, however, is not only false, but very much the reverse of the facts. The fairy-tales are at root not only moral in the sense of being innocent, but moral in the sense of being didactic, moral in the sense of being moralising. It is all very well to talk of the freedom of fairyland, but there was precious little freedom in fairyland by the best official accounts. Mr. W. B. Yeats and other sensitive modern souls, feeling that modern life is about as black a slavery as ever oppressed mankind (they are right enough there), have especially described elfland as a place of utter ease and abandonment - a place where the soul can turn every way at will like the wind. Science denounces the idea of a capricious God; but Mr. Yeats's school suggests that in that world every one is a capricious god. Mr. Yeats himself has said a hundred times in that sad and splendid literary style which makes him the first of all poets now writing in English (I will not say of all English poets, for Irishmen are familiar with the practice of physical assault), he has, I say, called up a hundred times the picture of the terrible freedom of the fairies, who typify the ultimate anarchy of art -
"Where nobody grows old or weary or wise,
Where nobody grows old or godly or grave."
But, after all (it is a shocking thing to say), I doubt whether Mr. Yeats really knows the real philosophy of the fairies. He is not simple enough; he is not stupid enough. Though I say it who should not, in good sound human stupidity I would knock Mr. Yeats out any day. The fairies like me better than Mr. Yeats; they can take me in more. And I have my doubts whether this feeling of the free, wild spirits on the crest of hill or wave is really the central and simple spirit of folk-lore. I think the poets have made a mistake: because the world of the fairy-tales is a brighter and more varied world than ours, they have fancied it less moral; really it is brighter and more varied because it is more moral. Suppose a man could be born in a modern prison. It is impossible, of course, because nothing human can happen in a modern prison, though it could sometimes in an ancient dungeon. A modern prison is always inhuman, even when it is not inhumane. But suppose a man were born in a modern prison, and grew accustomed to the deadly silence and the disgusting indifference; and suppose he were then suddenly turned loose upon the life and laughter of Fleet Street. He would, of course, think that the literary men in Fleet Street were a free and happy race; yet how sadly, how ironically, is this the reverse of the case! And so again these toiling serfs in Fleet Street, when they catch a glimpse of the fairies, think the fairies are utterly free. But fairies are like journalists in this and many other respects. Fairies and journalists have an apparent gaiety and a delusive beauty. Fairies and journalists seem to be lovely and lawless; they seem to be both of them too exquisite to descend to the ugliness of everyday duty. But it is an illusion created by the sudden sweetness of their presence. Journalists live under law; and so in fact does fairyland.
If you really read the fairy-tales, you will observe that one idea runs from one end of them to the other - the idea that peace and happiness can only exist on some condition. This idea, which is the core of ethics, is the core of the nursery-tales. The whole happiness of fairyland hangs upon a thread, upon one thread. Cinderella may have a dress woven on supernatural looms and blazing with unearthly brilliance; but she must be back when the clock strikes twelve. The king may invite fairies to the christening, but he must invite all the fairies or frightful results will follow. Bluebeard's wife may open all doors but one. A promise is broken to a cat, and the whole world goes wrong. A promise is broken to a yellow dwarf, and the whole world goes wrong. A girl may be the bride of the God of Love himself if she never tries to see him; she sees him, and he vanishes away. A girl is given a box on condition she does not open it; she opens it, and all the evils of this world rush out at her. A man and woman are put in a garden on condition that they do not eat one fruit: they eat it, and lose their joy in all the fruits of the earth.
This great idea, then, is the backbone of all folk-lore - the idea that all happiness hangs on one thin veto; all positive joy depends on one negative. Now, it is obvious that there are many philosophical and religious ideas akin to or symbolised by this; but it is not with them I wish to deal here. It is surely obvious that all ethics ought to be taught to this fairy-tale tune; that, if one does the thing forbidden, one imperils all the things provided. A man who breaks his promise to his wife ought to be reminded that, even if she is a cat, the case of the fairy-cat shows that such conduct may be incautious. A burglar just about to open some one else's safe should be playfully reminded that he is in the perilous posture of the beautiful Pandora: he is about to lift the forbidden lid and loosen evils unknown. The boy eating some one's apples in some one's apple tree should be a reminder that he has come to a mystical moment of his life, when one apple may rob him of all others. This is the profound morality of fairy-tales; which, so far from being lawless, go to the root of all law. Instead of finding (like common books of ethics) a rationalistic basis for each Commandment, they find the great mystical basis for all Commandments. We are in this fairyland on sufferance; it is not for us to quarrel with the conditions under which we enjoy this wild vision of the world. The vetoes are indeed extraordinary, but then so are the concessions. The idea of property, the idea of some one else's apples, is a rum idea; but then the idea of there being any apples is a rum idea. It is strange and weird that I cannot with safety drink ten bottles of champagne; but then the champagne itself is strange and weird, if you come to that. If I have drunk of the fairies' drink it is but just I should drink by the fairies' rules. We may not see the direct logical connection between three beautiful silver spoons and a large ugly policeman; but then who in fairy tales ever could see the direct logical connection between three bears and a giant, or between a rose and a roaring beast? Not only can these fairy-tales be enjoyed because they are moral, but morality can be enjoyed because it puts us in fairyland, in a world at once of wonder and of war.
Chesterton, G. K. All Things Considered. London: Methuen, 1908, 1915.
Virtues define the character of a person, as well as his ideals and possibilities. Is it so wrong to hope my children's sense of virtue is a moral-laden, as opposed to a value-laden, one? Inspired by former Education czar William J. Bennett's books on virtues for children and adults, Max and I will be creating our own book of virtues over the coming year. The book will contain:
Since Bill Bennett's list of virtues concentrates on qualities associated with the Protestant work ethic, Max and I added a few Christian virtues to his hardworking list. The ones we selected were inspired by the Beatitudes and various verses found in the Bible. In the list below, our virtues are written in green, while Mr. Bennett's virtues are written in brown.
Seventeen beautiful virtues to inspire our everyday strivings. Bill Bennett does have an online educational program for homeschoolers called k12, but I'm not a fan of online learning when it involves my little ones and my laptop. As we explore the virtues, I'll keep sharing any fun finds for virtue books as well as inspirations and framing tools. Here's a little intro and I'll devote individual blog posts to each virtue as we mosey on through them.
Scouring the web for copywork and other fun items, I found a number of things worth sharing... Most are in PDF format, and there is no organizing theme or method worth seeking.
Yesterday afternoon, we received a surprise visit from dear Connie Robertson, who brought a six-pack of cupcakes for Max. He was thrilled to see her and even asked if he might be allowed to "walk her to her car because she is a lady".
Then, our lovely neighbors from almost-across the street dropped by with a trunk-load of Halloween decorations which they wanted to give to us. Max was dancing on his tiptoes; he loves decorating for any holiday on the calendar. Honestly, we didn't have Halloween decorations apart from our sweet pumpkin, so Patrick and Max started decking the dogwoods with pumpkin lights and skeletons. I am constantly overwhelmed by the kindness of others.
After decorating the house and our own bodies, we loaded our costumed selves into the car to attend the fundraiser at the Arboretum. I was dressed as a Romanian sheperdess, while Patrick played Pocahontas. Micah started off as a pirate and gradually turned in to a pumpkin as the evening got colder, while Max wore his dragon costume. Out of the 30 kids who competed in his age group, Max won second place in the costume contest!
Typical Maxer, he took his fancy umbrella and gardening gloves- a prize I confess to coveting- and raced off to join the hayride. When he returned, all red-cheeked and dragon-tailed, he exclaimed:
"Mommy, I saw a vampire! And he didn't want to eat me because vampires don't eat people- they just suck their blood!"
Micah look relieved. After downing two burgers and one hot dog, "relieved" is not quite the word to describe my feelings at the time.
We ended our evening without the little ones, who slept snugly on a pallet in the den with their babysitter, Angie. Since our neighbors hosted a costume and dessert party, we walked to their home and enjoyed a little adult company.
Believe it or not, we still woke up early enough to forget about daylight savings time and arrive at Sunday School an hour early as the church musicians straggled in for their rehearsal.
So our veggie delivery for the week contained a large portion of collards, which I used to make a soup. The recipe is my own-- a combination of several recipes and ideas, mostly simple because our pantry is on the empty side.
1. First cut the very bitter stem root in the collard greens. If you add this stem, your soup will be spoiled.
2. Heat one or two tablespoons of olive oil in a soup pot, the bigger the pot, the better.
3. Add the following to the heated oil:
4. Cook this mixture over low heat for about 10 minutes, then add 6 cups of chicken stock or water.
5. Cover and bring to a boil.
6. Lower heat to a simmer for about 20 minutes.
7. Add as much of 1 bunch of collard greens (stemmed and torn) as you can fit, cover and wait a few minutes for the greens to cook down.
7. Keep adding greens in batches, waiting between additions for them to cook down, which they eventually will.
8. Cook for a few minutes, then garnish with sour cream or freshly sliced jalapenos.