Sunday, September 27, 2015

Week 5: Thinking About Art

This week has blown by, and now it's Sunday and I realize that I haven't written anything! I know that I'm hitting a groove when I find that I have little to say about the school week and begin thinking about non-school things like watching Downton Abbey (again), and art, and playing the guitar, all of which are in the forefront of my mind at the moment.

On Friday the 18th Molly and I went into the city to see the Gustave Caillebotte exhibit at the National Gallery of Art. It was incredible. Add him to the list of my favorite artists. I had the opportunity to really observe how my daughter interacts with great works of art. She appreciated Rembrandt and the Dutch Masters and the big, showy works of the Neo-Classical era. We walked through those galleries without much emotion. Then we came to the galleries that housed religious art and icons from the middle ages. We found that section to be a tad creepy. I suppose I always have, and Molly was not at ease with them, either. Right after that we walked into the gallery that houses the major impressionists, and Molly's mouth dropped open and she just stared. She walked over to this painting and stood looking for a bit. I walked up beside her and she said, "Now THAT'S art!"

Girl With a Watering Can
Pierre-Augste Renior
I'm not entirely sure why this was the painting that caught her eye, but after that we looked at all the Impressionist paintings carefully, and she was awed by them. Then we went to the Caillebotte exhibit and the first thing I saw walking in was this painting:

Something in me jumped, then felt as if I had just arrived home from being gone for a long time, and I knew I had seen that painting somewhere before. Walking up to it, I realized that its home is the Chicago Art Institute, and of course--I had been there quite a few times when I was in my last months of single life--a poor grad student wishing that I could live a care-free life as an artist and writer. I love this painting. 

But then we turned our attention to this one, and this was the one I really had wanted to see:

We stared at it long and hard when we first went into the exhibit, then toured the whole gallery, then came back and observed some more. Cumulatively we stared at this painting for about 30 minutes, is my guess. If it wasn't that long, it sure felt like it. We were both captivated by it and fascinated by the play of light and the colors and the delicate attention to detail. Molly asked to return to the exhibit after exiting several times, just for one last look. I obliged, of course.

We both agreed that this one was not our favorite. 

Yuck! I'm not entirely sure why he felt compelled to paint that, but apparently it has enough of that je ne sais quoi to hang in the museums of the world. Okay, moving on. I love art, don't get me wrong. I don't like raw meat. Fine art and raw meat cancel each other out. This should not exist based on that little corollary.

Now I am informed that the last edition of the Apostle's edition of the St. John's Bible has just gone exhibit at the Library of Congress. This is a trip we need to take, and will do, ASAP. I have waited to see this for years. I cannot wait!

The Seven Days of Creation Illumination, St. John's Bible

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Week 4: Day in the Life of a High-School Homeschool

7:30  - Woke up this morning and it hurts to breathe. Don't worry--it's only the 90 bar-hanging knee raises I did yesterday. Next week I will have abs of titanium and then it'll be fine. Showered. Dressed. Made the bed. Considered all the clothes I need to put away. Didn't do it.

The Packers beat the Bears this weekend so I'm not overly depressed or concerned about the week, though the upcoming games cause me some real worry--we HAVE to stop the run, men, or Seattle will...I can't think about it. Oh yes, I'm a Packers fan. An owner, even. I never blog about it because it is not directly related to homeschooling, but if you consider the number of times I threaten my kids with disinheriting them of the owner's share if they don't do what they should, then maybe it is.

7:50 - Woke the kids with the promise of coffee when they come down.

8:24 - Sitting here blogging, listening to them talk in the other room. I'm about to shatter their happy lives with the call to get started on their school work. We'll start with Bible and hopefully that will set the tone for the day.

9:20 - Breakfast is done, and Bible is discussed. Matt is working on algebra, Molly is getting ready to start reading her science chapter. I'm trying to get a check written and in the mail before our mailman comes. We have the earliest mail delivery of the whole town, I think.

10:00 - M is stuck on an algebra problem involving time, distance and average speed. ugh. Other M is taking beautiful notes in her Apologia science notebook. I love the time and attention to detail she gives to her notebook pages.

11:15 - Have emerged from algebra melt-down. Stubbornness prevailed here, and now I have a headache. Finally he has moved on to grammar and thankfully he is finding it a quick and easy task as opposed to the algebra ordeal. Molly is reading Dangerous Journey (an illustrated kid's version of Pilgrim's Progress) in preparation for tomorrow's co-op. I need to prepare for co-op, too.

This is one of those moments that I feel I am undertaking the impossible.

3:25 - Broke for lunch somewhere around noon. The kids made lunch today, which gave me a little time to read and gather my thoughts for co-op tomorrow, though I'm nowhere near finished. I would like to try to get to the gym and work out but I am not sure if I can get everything done in time if I go. It seems simple enough--go, work out for an hour, come home. It is a 90 minute venture at least, not counting the socializing, post WOD stretch, potential rush-hour traffic, the rubbing of the muscles, complaining to the husband, showering, etc. Molly and I did math together while Matt finished his assignments for Tapestry of Grace co-op for tomorrow. Leaving in a minute to pick up my farm order from one of the local organic farmers. Matt is about to start his online Latin class at 4:00 and Molly is practicing her violin.

It's 6:50. We are about to eat. I didn't work out, but I think it's okay, seeing as how the two-day soreness from yesterday's lifting is really starting to settle in my quads. I'll get moving tomorrow. This evening I'll finish up the plan for tomorrow's discussion and get to bed at a decent hour. I hope.

It was a day. I am having a glass of wine to un-wine, I mean unwind. ;-) If you ever were wondering how these things go, it ain't pretty, but somehow it all seems to work out in the end.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Week 3: In Which I Exhale

We have successfully sustained three full weeks of school work. I find that I place high standards upon myself, especially when we first get started. I have the habit of over-planning, and then having to pare back a little from my original plan--kind of like grocery shopping when you're hungry. You get home and ask yourself, "Why on earth did I buy all this food?"

Anyway, yesterday Molly and I allowed ourselves a girl's day out. We went and got our hair and nails done, went out to dinner with girlfriends, and did a little shopping at the new organic market that just opened up.

We came upon this in the store, and found ourselves very amused.

Ew. I'm not against recycling. They just might want to re-word the packaging.

Overall it was a good week.  The Biology class collected pond water from a local pond to grow specimens of various organisms. I didn't get to go because I was teaching the girls how to draw lemons in a bowl, but it looks like they had fun. 

Somewhere down the line this week I started to relax. I think the kids are working hard, finding a routine, and managing their time well. Now I can take the days as they come and feel more at ease. 

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Week 2: Law of Inertia

We had another great week--busy, tired at the end, but very productive. It appears to be a season of hard work for our family, and we are okay with that. Work hard, play hard--I know we will be grateful for the breaks when they come.

Over the last year since losing my mom, life has gradually taken on its regular pace. I am very glad that I allowed myself the time to grieve and to take school and commitments lightly. I believe it is why we are able to attack this term's objectives with purpose. We have enjoyed a long season of rest. Now it is time to get back to work.

We accomplished a lot this week! Here's a look:


Biology: Finished chapter 1 text, labs, notebook and test
Tapestry of Grace: Finished week 20 (Year 2) assignments and started week 21 after meeting for co-op
(this includes significant amounts of reading, a written response question, timeline and map work)
Algebra: Worked on reviewing skills that got a little rusty over the summer.
Grammar: Continued work in season 3 of Analytical Grammar
Latin: Completed the week's assignments given by his online instructor
Bible: Started week two of his study of John


Zoology 1: chapter 1 and notebook pages
Math: still working out the summer kinks. I expect to add some new material later this week.
Grammar: Jr. Analytical Grammar, Lesson 2
Spelling: Phonetic Zoo
Writing With Ease: Week 4
Tapestry of Grace: week 20 completed, started week 21

Matt got in five workouts, I got in four, Molly and Dad got in three each, so it was also a great CrossFit week!

I have been amazed at how hard the kids have worked, their growth as students (while I wasn't looking) and their great attitudes. I realize that they are hungry for routine as much as I am.

I went snooping on an old hard drive today and found a video I made when the kids were small and Molly couldn't talk yet. We used to say she spoke "Mollish" I can hardly believe she was ever that little, and yet it seems like yesterday. This evening we took them out for a rare and overdue dinner out at a nice restaurant and we reminisced about how we used to think we would never be able to go out to dinner without them creating a scene. Tonight we four sat and had a very civilized and pleasant meal together and enjoyed each others' company. There is no one on earth I'd rather be with than my peeps...I know the time is flying.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Week 2: Starting Back to Co-op

It's Wednesday. That means co-op for us. It's a great day for the kids to look forward to a break from the regular grind and gives them accountability and an opportunity for them to interact with other students and the material they've been studying.

Today was our first week of 27 that are planned for the whole school year.

It looked something like this:

From 9:30-10:45 the younger (upper grammar age) girls did art using Artistic Pursuits as their base curriculum.

Learning to find the outside edge of an object in drawing.

The rhetoric level students reviewed their first chapter in Apologia Biology and did their lab.

The pros and cons of home get to stay home, but the cat helps.

Identifying the parts of a cell

At 11:00 the younger girls started their science discussion and lab from Apologia's Flying Creatures book. 

Test flying gliders of different wing-lengths

Then we took a nice break, ate lunch together and headed over to our friends' house for Tapestry co-op. This is the first major location shift we've had in a while as we've always had it at our house, but we've decided to move this year so babies and toddlers and little siblings can nap and play and not be disturbed. It worked out great!

History discussion
I was a little nervous coming into today. We had not had co-op for most of last school year, and when we did decide that it would be better to have some kind of group work three students of our regular group was missing, and it was only for writing and lower-grammar stuff. We had not really tackled the main Tapestry of Grace topics for over a year together, and there have been changes in all the kids over the last year. We went from a group of early middle-schoolers to high-schoolers, and we're now working with the material on a higher level. When we sat down to discussion, however, I was gratified to see how hard everyone had worked on the assignments that they had been given, how well they understood the material, and how well they could discuss it and synthesize the information. My job was very easy. We covered everything from the founding of Jamestown, the 30 Years' War, to Don Quixote and literary terminology pertaining to it. 

I'm so proud of the kids and all their hard work, and can't wait until next week to do it all over again!