Monday, December 27, 2010

My Year according to Facebook

Voyage of the Dawn Treader

As one of our lovely vacation activities, we took the kids to see the Voyage of the Dawn Treader.  I don't want to post any spoilers, so I won't give away any details of the story.  If you want to read a review with which I wholeheartedly agree read here.  The review contains spoilers, just so you know. (Skip the part about William Wilburforce, C. S. Lewis, and social justice in the beginning.  It's apropos nothing, in my opinion.)

It was a great movie, and I wholeheartedly recommend it.  In my world, nothing quite compares to the Chronicles of Narnia and my childhood-into-adulthood attachment to that place.  It lives so vividly in my mind that when I was a graduate student at Wheaton College I made a pilgrimage to see the wardrobe, housed at the Marion E. Wade Center.  I can still remember the feeling I felt as I reached into the wardrobe and sadly, knocked on the back panel.  I just had to be sure (shakes head, deep breath)...well, back to the movie...

I was a bit concerned at first, because the movie changes and adds so much, but in the end, just as every time I have reached the end of this story, I was weeping.  If you are a purist, you will have to lay aside your ideals before walking into the theater.  If you are a movie-goer, just going to see a movie, you'll be entertained, but you won't really understand.  If you are still a child, familiar with the story and still possessing a wild imagination, this movie will satisfy. You may leave believing for a moment that the animated lion with the voice of liquid gold is real, and you could potentially encounter him on your way home from the movies.  But that is the glory of it all, is it not?  I think C.S. Lewis's intention was to show us the Great Lion through the eyes of a child.  He succeeded in his books, and the movie-makers have done a pretty good job rendering Aslan.  But the thing that grabs me every time whether in the book or in film versions, is Lucy's devotion to Aslan.  In the scenes where she encounters him, her response to him depicts so much love, so much absolute trust and surrender, so much awareness of her own need for him, that I come undone.  This part of the story remains intact in this movie.  I wish much more time was given to the scene in which Eustace is released from his dragon-ness...but that story may not resonate with everyone in the way that it does with me.  Even so, it was well-done.

If you are considering 3-D versus regular format, we only had one option at our theater, and that was 3-D.  I did not consider it the best choice, and would have preferred regular.  There were no spectacular things that made you feel you had to duck and cover, or make you feel as if you were flying, so with that in mind, choose regular format and save your money.  I also felt as if the movie needed to be focused was not as sharp and detailed as I would have liked, and the colors (which were probably amazing) seemed dulled by the glasses.

Finally, watch very closely in the end, when the children are returned, and the painting is returned to its rightful place.  Try to notice the hanger.  Tell me if you notice anything about went by so quickly that I'm not sure if I saw correctly...but I'm not going to say what it was I think I saw and spoil it...just leave a comment, and if you have not seen the movie, wait to read the comments until afterward.

Happy sailing!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Week

I'm taking a little blogging break to celebrate Christmas with my sweet family.  I expect that I will have plenty of photos to share when I return sometime next week or the first week in January.  Until then, I will share with you "my" verse for this season.  It is the passage in Luke's gospel when Simeon saw the newborn Jesus at the temple with his parents.  It is a tremendous statement of faith and I have been meditating on it all month.
My eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples.  A light for revelation to the Gentiles and for glory to your people Israel.

Luke 2:30-32

Friday, December 17, 2010

Week 14 in Review: What a Weird Week!

Last week was our official end of regular lessons, but this week we attended a three-day art class with Barry Stebbing, author of art curriculum entitled How Great Thou Art.  What made the class extra-special was that we had the honor of hosting Mr. Stebbing and his lovely wife in our home from Sunday to Thursday.  They were lovely guests and we had a wonderful visit with them.  Unfortunately, however, things were complicated by the fact that our Molly came down with a terrible case of croup while they were here.  By Wednesday afternoon she had developed a bad earache and cough, had to miss her last day of art class, did not sleep at all that night due to the horrible cough.  I was sad to have to miss the third day of class, but this is parenthood.  So the Stebbings left on Thursday while I was with Molly at the clinic.  A shot, two nebulizer treatments and enough pain reliever to numb a horse finally brought her cough under control, and she fell asleep with her head on the kitchen counter, poor baby.  She slept about 14 hours last night and is finally no longer coughing uncontrollably.  She has sore muscles, a few side-effects from the albuterol, and is still pretty weak and running a fever, but at least she is no longer "barking."

Back to the art class and the Stebbings' visit...Matty and Molly loved the class.  I enjoyed the class as well, though I was not technically registered.  I sat with Molly and helped her, as he moved through the material VERY quickly, but she was, as I told her dad, "locked and loaded."  She did not take her eyes off of him the whole time, and she was able to follow along remarkably well.  Matty did very well, also, and thoroughly enjoyed the material.  On the first day the Stebbings arrived, Mr. Stebbing attempted to interest Matty in his sketch journals.  Matty told him rather bluntly, "I'm not interested in that because I don't think I would remember to do it."  By the end of the class, he was dying to get a journal so that he could begin right away.

The material that is covered in the 3-day class is very basic, fundamental drawing and painting.   As a classical educator, I really appreciated the approach because he hammers the essentials of art in a very structured way.  He teaches what we would call the "grammar" of drawing.  Perspective is presented on the most basic level, shading and mixing of color is understandable, and coloring from light to dark, using lines and dots to fill in make perfect sense.  I'm excited to see where we take this and to see how the kids do with the curriculum.  Matty also attends an art class once a week, but the approach to drawing is much different.  There they use a much more technical approach, drawing from a grid rather than life.  The combination of the two may be very effective.

So, in spite of my best intentions to take all kinds of wonderful photos at the workshop, I captured none...I was simply too busy to stop and get a look at things.  Hopefully I will be able to get a few pictures of the kids as they work on the curriculum...later.  As it is, I have a girl to get back to health, Christmas to prepare for, and rest to catch up on.  I also need to try not to end my sentences in prepositions, but don't feel like bothering right now.  sorry.

I'll write more around Christmas time.  I expect that I'll be taking a break this week unless something totally inspires me and I'm compelled to write.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Week 13 in Review: Finishing Well

This week was our end-of-term review week.  Then Matty came down with a really. nasty. cold.  So it's been a short review week.  Even so, I was determined that we would not carry this semester-long lap book project into the new year, and insisted that we finish it up before we could break for Christmas.  I do believe that deadlines and "due dates" are of value, even if we are masters of our own schedules.  We've been making mini-books all along, following along with the CC history sentences for cycle two.  It was remarkable to compile all that he has learned this semester, and really, the lap book only scratches the surface.  Even is the completed project.  If you are a lap-book junkie, perhaps you will find this interesting.

The black pie wheel includes interesting facts about the plague, the brown strip on the right is a timeline. Each date flips open and has a fact behind it. The map is the spread of the plague through Europe, and the blue and red minibooks contain information about the hudred years' war and Joan of Arc.

This was a spontaneous drawing he did one day of the Crusaders attacking Jerusalem.  We decided to include it.
Inside each matchbook is a small report on the various kings, in his own writing.
In addition to completing the Middle ages lap book, we managed to review all of our CC work in preparation for the review day that is taking place tomorrow.  This will be the second year for this campus to hold a "review day" at the end of a CC term for students who are interested in becoming memory masters, or simply want to really have a handle on the material.  Molly will opt out in favor of a play date with one of her classmates, but Matty will participate.  I have not yet been a part of one of these review days, but our director described it as a situation in which the students quiz each other on the memory work.  It is designed to help students begin to take responsibility for the material and understand that they are not dependent on Mom or Dad to help them become memory masters.  I can definitely see where this will help my son, should he continue to pursue this goal.  Our CC memory work takes a significant chunk of our school time, and I would like to see him take it on as part of his independent work so that we can work on other things like living books, lap books and science experiments.

So for the first time in our homeschooling career, I feel that we are really "finishing well."  I have always felt that this was important, but at the same have allowed one thing to just sort of roll over into the next term without a clearly defined "finishing point."  I am glad that I have given him this experience of knowing what it means to have completed something concrete and know that he really is on break for a couple of weeks until we begin again in January.  Boundaries and expectations are set--we begin working with a whole new set of parameters this way, and I think that at his age and ability, it is time.  ((sigh))  It is a good feeling, but I am tired and ready for a break.  I can't wait for always.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Week 12 in Review: Wonderful!


This week was such a wonderful week.  Perhaps we were bearing the fruit from having taken a week off for Thanksgiving, but regardless of the cause, the week just seemed to flow, and a lot of learning happened this week.

The highlight of the week was capitalizing on week 11's Shakespeare theme.  We memorized some lines from Henry V, read a beautifully illustrated version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, watched Much Ado About Nothing and downloaded King Henry V which we plan to watch tomorrow night as a family.  Of the clip shown above, Matty memorized the last part, starting with "We few, we happy few, We band of brothers..."  When he watched it he said, "That's what I want to do.  That really stirs me."  Then again, I doubt that I will ever forget the sound of my son's voice saying, "Mom, please can we have pizza and watch Shakespeare tonight?"  Um...sure.  Sounds fine to me.  We also completed all of the math, writing and science and (gasp!) even worked in a science experiment, and did a very thorough review of CC work.

As I have been reflecting on this week, I have been thinking about the things we covered, and why things unfolded as they did.  I believe that not formally testing my child on what he knows is so liberating, and in all honesty frees us to pursue the things we really love without worrying about how he will perform on an assignment or a test.  He doesn't have to write a paper about Shakespeare, he doesn't have to answer fill-in-the-blank questions about his life, and yet he has his stories stored up, lines from plays memorized, and an appreciation for the man himself because he is familiar with his life.  He genuinely loves Shakespeare.  I believe I am able to engage / indulge these interests with impunity because there is no test looming over our heads, no standards of learning to fulfill, no one telling us how many school days we have to have.  This is the time in childhood when learning can happen as learning will and building solid foundations.  Tests will come soon enough.