Thursday, November 30, 2006

Parent day at the studio.

Little girls that exude dancer personalities, all feminine in their ballet splendor, and gracious in their ballet slipper toed movements, are so darned cute to watch.

This week amidst the brouhaha of mice and men (wink), it was parent viewing day at the dance studio, one of two special days held each dance year.

With our youngest daughter taking both ballet and tap dancing lessons, following in her older sisters' footsteps, she assured me I would love her new dancing studio this year, complete with barre practicing, mirrors on every wall and trophies all over the place to admire from former dancer performances earning the studio its incredible and well deserved reputation.

The goal for a dancer; beauty and poise.

With hot steamy latte in hand I had been sipping on rather quickly before slipping into the class, I dropped it into the garbage can near the doorway, moving in and taking a seat to the left after entering the dance studio. It was there I had prepared myself to sit for two performances of the varied dance disciplines back to back this day.

The first class was ballet, and studio uniform was mandatory, so no frilly pink skirts allowed on top of the black leotard and pink tights for the parent day.

It was most interesting to see the advancement in both style and dance this class has progressed in, moving towards their individual exams this year for the first time. The teacher made comment they were all ready for their first exams this February/07.

What a lovely group of little girls, all so sweet and fun loving, enjoying their parents there to observe them at work and play.

Beginning with their barre exercise work, they worked hard and showed us they have learned and progressed well in their technique work, taking their lesson seriously, even with the audience before them they weren’t accustomed to.

Serious faces were showing their concentrated efforts.

As each new French ballet definition has been given, the girls have had dictation to write them down with their corresponding meaning in a booklet they keep in their dance bags, and most of the girls could pronounce them when reviewing each step with the teacher during this class.

I love this photo because her reflection in the mirror is priceless.

After the barre work, the girls performed several dancing exercises, then their main dance thus far. I found the girls were all fairly good at keeping in time to the music, working well with the only exception being one tiny gal, who had her arms in many places but where they belonged, then I realized she was just shorter than the rest and having a good time in front of her parents, because when the diagonal corner to corner movement foot work was next, she could exhibit well and had perfect steps for each and every expectation.

Following the ballet class, I remained seated for the tap dancing being held right after in the same studio. Some of the same gals stayed for this class like our daughter, having both back to back such a time saver for the mothers. A couple of girls joined in from either another studio dance discipline or came only for this class. All of course were lovely little girls too, but I had to chuckle while watching them all open their dance bags and slip into their tap shoes.

Ready to shuffle ball change, and side sweep wild kicks.

Contrary to the ballet class, not one of the girls could stand still after they were on their feet, shuffling about making a lot of racket with their steel taps. Apparently they do this all the time, practicing their steps rhythmically and automatically as soon as the shoes are on. It reminds me of the books titled “The Red Dancing Shoes by Hans Christian Anderson”… (You simply MUST read this lovely little story HERE) where the shoes' self driven action moved around in full motion with feet taking the lead around the room. These young maidens are also likened to the song….”YOU got to move it, move it”.

As well, this type of dance obviously triggers motion, movement at high tapping speeds, noise beyond belief when not all are in sync with one another (believe me), and an all out raucous and rowdy surge of energy ensues, not like those graceful ballet moves when positioning the body to rise en pointe or having whispy and floating grand arabesque moves. These gals had ambition, agility and way too much energy beyond the first group of lovely ballerinas, not to say the ballerinas didn't, rather they were much more disciplined in their movements with these gals letting go, all smiling before the class when shoes were all on their feet, as if to say to the parents;

“Just you wait - THIS class if filled with wild merriment”.

Tap shoes make the feet wanna get up and move.

This dance class takes two years before the girls are well prepared to take examinations, so they won't be participating in any this year.

New children's book worth taking a look at.

The "Madame" of the studio is now retired after fifty years of dancing, but pops in upon occasion to view and assist where she is needed. Her grown and married daughter now runs the studio and has a young girl in this tap class. She was able to pop in near the end to watch her own daughter participating in this lesson, in between teaching her own scheduled dance classes.

After the main dance number had ended, she leaned over two chairs to ask me (again) if my daughter didn't have previous dancing experience. I told her the same thing, no, and shaking her head she replied that she thought our girl was incredibly gifted with the abiltity to keep the beat and stay on course with the dance number after only having danced such a short time. She told me she marveled at her natural movements because she had advanced so significantly in such a short time to learn the moves and all the dance steps. She also remarked on the great turnout of her feet for the ballet session ahead of this class, as she was watching in the studio door's window at the girls a few times when able. I just ended the wee chat by telling her the talent runs in the family with other daughters who were naturals at dancing too. *smile*

As well while there at the parent viewing day, our other daughter came along on the errands proceeding the classes, curled up and reading the new books she had just checked out from the library in the lobby.This teacher (we all really like her) nabbed her attention, requesting her to babysit her young son three hours this dance day while she taught her classes if at all possible. Apparently they live right around the corner from us, so close. Seeing her there, the teacher was thrilled to remember I had another daughter as she hasn't had a babysitter this year yet to assist her at home while her husband worked afternoon shifts. This thrilled and happy daughter was eager to share this news with me later on and obtain our approval to assist in the request.

You got to move it, move it, just like the song.

When the last tap class was ended, our little daughter removed her shoes, prepared her things and gathered her items back into her dance bag. With crimson cheeks and a glowing face, she hugged me hard telling me she was very happy to have her mommy there to share this dancing day with.

Hurry mom, my class is about to begin.

I can see she favors her activity of dancing very much, however she’s been missing the horse riding lessons when they stopped until later in the spring.

What a combination; ballet and horse riding!


Monday, November 27, 2006

Start them young!

I’m sharing a picture of our young grand-daughter here today.

Life skills begin at a young age.

Here Mommy, I'm your helper...

No one can mistake the sweet face of an eager and contented spirit, volunteering her services to become her mother's little helper, much to mommy’s chagrin of course.

Angelic smiles are certainly not scarce to the observer; an obvious childlike curiosity to the wonderful world around her and her new found walking mobility at an early age has her into everything all the time.

Here, the inner dishwasher holdings are at her eye level, somehow having opened the lid all by herself.

Peeping in and walking around the front of the lid, she admired the inner offerings not even an arm's length away, with a most joyful temptation before her, to reach out and touch the contents, pulling utensils out, and then offering things to mommy when caught in the act.


Very cute!

Sunday, November 26, 2006

While we're on the "thankful" thread...

All this talk of Thanksgiving, and the “thankful” thread" I began, to challenge others for observing the simple things in life they are grateful for, here are a few more items I am most thankful for this week. Though I have many once again of course, these are but a few;

1 - I am thankful for the new drinks featured at local coffee shops, specially the “Peppermint mocha”. I prefer to make a special order, that is; half sweet with the use of skim milk and decaf coffee these days. My stomach appreciates me so much more for this simple, yet complex request, let alone my nervous system. Have you seen this seasonal coffee with the little colorful sprinkles at your local coffee house yet? Oh yummy!

Starbucks current seasonal hot drink menu

2 - I am thankful for finally obtaining a family doctor, a rare thing here I am told, and luckily it happened in record time too apparently. I am thrilled we now have a doctor for referring us to specialists, and the ability to prescribe specialty items or mandatory blood tests for those in our family requiring them. As well I am thrilled with his thorough attention to details, and skilled assessments. Yahoo!

3 - I am thankful for my lavender essential oil in a hot bath later in the evening, when the house is quiet, the lights are dimmed, and there's not a peep to beckon me to them, in the still of the night. Sleep comes a bit easier after having one of these long soaks. I recommend it highly to all. The children love it too, not just me of course.

4 - I am thankful for children who don’t mind working hard to help out, sometimes grumbling a bit, sometimes not at all, though they roll up their sleeves to pitch in. Teaching all our children “the value of the dollar” has been high on our list of mandatory items to convey the importance of finances with them.

Sometimes no monetary amount can equal the experience of simply offering a hand to another person in need, no strings attached....just because. This is another valuable teaching children need to learn.

Last month, the two older children delivered flyers door to door, community to community and farm to farm, assisting in a gentleman’s City Councilor’s political campaign ambitions.

Last week they were hired by the piano teacher to rake her yard of leaves. No easy task, there are many dozen mature oak and maple trees that are bare now, their leaves on the ground for all to step deep within. The task was complete after several hours with them at the helm, rakes in hand, happily egging on the teacher to keep up her raking alongside of them.

Also, this weekend, our older son here assisted me in literally gutting the kitchen in a spring cleaning like workbee. All the appliances were wiped down and buffed to a shine, every counter was cleared and swabbed, the sink cleaned, every small kitchen appliance was washed and many of these were able to fit into the dishwasher to get a good scrubbing.

All the fish tanks were cleaned as well, so we have happy little fishies again.

5 - I am thankful for the brilliant idea of Costco selling three floor mops together in bulk! After all the bathrooms were complete by yours truly, all the children pitched in and all four floor mops were moving madly about, for two scrubbings, floorboards to wallboards, nice and clean now.

6 - I am thankful for a good book after a day’s work when the muscles lay screaming to settle down.

7 - I am so thankful for my Fed Ex man and the UPS guy, who bring me multiple orders each month. Some orders contain special items for hubby, some contain BOOKS, my most valued earthly possession addiction.

8 - I am thankful for my little post office similar to my Fed Ex and UPS deliverers, as she now knows my interests and found me a few contacts for things I personally wish to find out more about. She too happily hands over many parcels since we’ve moved here and has invited us to her family farm to meet her animals, horses too.

Recent book order to complete our World History 1 & 2 high school "Living History" reading requirements for the second semester in the New Year. Alas, the book orders cease for a time!

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Daylight and Moonlight

Daylight and Moonlight
by; Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

In broad daylight, and at noon,
Yesterday I saw the moon

Sailing high, but faint and white,
As a school boy's paper kite.

In broad daylight, yesterday,
I read a poet's mystic lay;
And it seemed to me at most
As a phantom, or a ghost.

But at length the feverish day,
Like a passion died away
And the night, serene and still,
Fell on village, vale and hill.

Then the moon, in all her pride,
Like a spirit glorified,
Filled and overflowed the night
With revelations of her light.

And the Poet's song again
Passed like music through my brain;
Night interpreted me
All its grace and mystery.

View from our parlor last night...

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The tack room.

The Tack Room

Just as my parlor is a favorite room for conversations and a stack of good reading material to conquer in a tranquil setting, so too is this "tack room" our daughter's new favorite room at the horse stables. She has her riding lesson each week, followed by her volunteer work, checking off a list as she works to gather those horses in need of their evening grooming sessions and tack removal if necessary.

Yesterday we met our horse lady next door formally, learning much during the short visit together, and of course, our younger daughter asked quietly and giving her girly grin, if she could see her barn. I was surprised at her bold request, but because of it, we were all given the royal tour of the barn interior, and I have to admit what a great CLEAN barn it was!

Our neighbor was an only child, growing up with a father who actively bred horses and enjoyed riding for pleasure. She too grew up riding, teaching and has now retired from that to become a horse show judge, traveling all around North America getting paid for her first love. As a travel agent also, and having her childhood spent in this area, she has much to share. Married with older children, she owns this childhood home, the same as the other four neighbors around our vicinity. No one seems to move far around here.

She also introduced her new horse to the girls, one she is training to ride some day, and told them if they saw her outside in the barn to come over any time. Already today, they were at the fence brushing the horses and waving to our neighbor, so in time I can see them assisting her with her barn chores too.

Glorious sunshine!

Cool and frosty mornings...

We've been so blessed with crisp and cool, frosty white mornings and glorious sunshine throughout each day this week, ending with most incredible pink and blue sunsets.

At dusk when hubby arrives home, we have developed our little ritual when evenings permit, to sit a spell while discussing the day's events while unwinding before and sometimes, also after dinner.

It used to be we sat on the back deck catching the last of the sun's rays while watching it bid farewell into blasts of color while setting, but as winter has progressed our stolen moments are now enjoyed in the warmth of the library/parlor.

When we are indulging one another for pleasant conversations, the children are aware this is "mommy and daddy's time" together, and allow for our privacy for a as long as they can stand it, then all join in with us a little while later to converse along with us.

Here's our favorite wing back chairs we love to sit in while chatting in the evenings, also catching glimpses outdoors of the sun setting out the window together.

Evening conversational parlor.

Also in this same room this week, the sun has shone on and on all day long, filling rooms with bright wonderful summer-like lighting and sensational sunshine. How good this feels to have such lovely brightness in the dead of winter fast approaching.

Finding "shade" in the library while reading on the floor today.

This young lad decided the floor was the best spot to be in today while grabbing a book later in the afternoon to read for fun. It became rather warm in this room, so the windows were cracked open to allow for some air. Then a few moments later when he was still hot, he scooted over to find "shade" from the glare of the sun. Eventually he gave up altogether and left the room to find "shade" in another area of the house. But the book was a fun read he said before leaving.

Thoughts on quality of reading...

If any one finds that he never reads serious literature, if all his reading is frothy and trashy, he would do well to try to train himself to like books that the general agreement of cultivated and sound-thinking persons has placed among the classics. It is as discreditable to the mind to be unfit for sustained mental effort as it is to the body of a young man to be unfit for sustained physical effort.

-- Theodore Roosevelt

Monday, November 20, 2006

The Library.

I thought I'd share with you a special heritage site, a home, actually a very unique dwelling place which is home to a book filled and active library.

"East Range"

During the year of 1875, the home was built on the most easterly side of the 10,000 acres in all, all belonging to one family, though separated into five farm parcels for the extended family to build their own individual homes on. This particular home was nicknamed “East Range” being the home furthest to the east on the land, and erected by a soon to be Colonel, commanding the local military district until after the Fenian alarms of 1866-1868.

The home was designed for comfortable living and gracious entertaining and all was situated along with the waterfront gentry. The grounds were a beautiful landscape with imported trees and a garden to wander through along it's many paths and curves to the waterside, giving the family a boost into the upper socialite status, a most important part of the British influence during that historical time period.

The original hand carved wooden crafted staircase in intact and in full use to this day, sturdy as can be and lovely!

The original staircase is still used today.

Over the years and after the deaths of former owners, the home was sold several more times, the home and grounds fell into disrepair but were lovingly restored to their former beauty with its many imported trees and gardens tended to.

It was once used as a summer resort for the famous golfing areas nearby, and later when not lived in permanently, it was rented out to summer vacationers. Historically it carries huge notoriety for being the chosen spot for a somewhat famous summer rental guest, that of "John Labatt" of the brewery family origins, who remained there for an entire summer. He was kidnapped during his long journey home, a local tale of wonder even though it was almost eighty years ago now when it had occurred!

It’s a beautiful spot still with dedicated parkland around it today, mature trees swaying and dancing in the wind and squirrels running all over the grounds in search of winter bounty. I love to visit this library upon occasion even if just to stand in the foyer, glance up those stairs and imagine life all those years ago within, a home that bestowed many happy times for a family of five all those years ago. History at its best, "living history" at its finest.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Pillow pals

Pillowy pals...

A lovely lady for a ballerina girl

When we are able to venture out and meet hubby for lunch these past few months, the trip is rather long to say the least, so the DVDs are packed up for the drive and while out in the major city, mom carries along an agenda the children must endure just as she must endure listening to videos along the drive herself.

It hasn't proven terribly horrible though for a few children to be dragged into some of the "Home" shops I like to frequent while in the city, for now they know perfectly well what treasures may be lurking while coerced shopping events are forced upon them, sitting there to feast their eyes on shelves within the store's aisles.
Ducky duck to add to the other friendly pals..

To date it would appear as though "Pillow Pals" have become the decor of preference since the summer, sitting lovely on top of freshly made beds. We carried one such "Pillow Pal" to our grandson for his recent birthday when we flew west in September, an adorable one another son just had to have for his own room too. "Now we're like twins" he said.

Mom, his little nose just fell off. Can you sew it back on?

But the monkey pals have long since been in the tradition of this family with other sons and their cousin, so this request never came as a great surprise.
Here are a few of the children's "finds". You like them too?

Baa Baaaaaa

Friday, November 17, 2006

Bird house

The Birdhouse Building Evening

Preparing my work station.

Last night we attended a very special parent participation project for our young "Brownie" daughters to work towards earning their "woodworking badge".

We met at a warehouse store altogether at the scheduled time, met by a woman who then escorted all the girls and parents on a tour of the store, offering awareness on safety issues, types of hardware and the store inventory for uses in woodworking.

Finally at long last after the tour dragged on for almost one hour (the girls learned alot, the parents strolled along making a wish list to purchase - laugh), we settled around several tables prepared with a woodworking station for each girl.

Hammering 101 - where to place your hand...

No one forewarned me that I'd have an active part in overseeing the construction of a bird house, though I knew she'd be making one. She donned her safety glasses and had trouble seeing through the bulky parts, though eventually she got the hang of wearing them as I tightened them into place on her head. An apron was on the table to wear they could keep when finished their project. A hammer just her size sat next to a bird house kit and the instructions there were for the parent to assist with hands-on assembly. Uh boy!

Following the instructions was easier
for the kids than the parents...laugh

She threw that hammer up and down ever so carefully, trying to bang with all her might, but soon fatigue took over and she needed to rest and shake out her arm out at times. With great determination, she succeeded in the creation of her very own birdhouse. She's so proud of it, and will paint it up this weekend.

Proud of her accomplishment to say the least

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Thoughts on education.

The Lesson

Pierre Auguste Renoir - 1841-1919

Almost eighteen years ago, we made a decision that proved to “rock our world”, then when we recovered, there was no looking back.

We hesitated, but it was the most convincing idea we could connect with at that time. We chose the route to home educate one daughter for Grade seven, a grade often known for hormonal rushes and mass confusion. The elementary school she was registered in, employed a newly certified teacher thrust into a Grade 5/6 split class, too much of a newbie to become enabled to deal with the age level, nor teach to both grades at one time with their varied curricula, therefore dumbing down the teaching to only encompass the lower grade, a repeat for many of the students present from the previous year.

1. Confusion 2. Class Position 3. Indifference 4. Emotional Dependency 5. Intellectual Dependency 6. Provisional Self-Esteem 7. One Can't Hide. It is the great triumph of compulsory, government monopoly mass-schooling that among even the best of my fellow teachers, and among even the best of my students' parents, only a small number can imagine a different way to do things

- John Taylor Gatto

Boredom ensued all year long for our daughter, a child who loathed summers when school wasn’t in session because she loved the mental challenges she had become accustomed to, a child who always loved a great read in hand, musing, learning, thinking and mulling over all the topics of interest to her. After cleaning many chalkboards and listening to younger children read in lower grades when her work was completed before others, it was time to re-energize this gal and allow her to move forward at her own pace, usually ahead of the pack. Her first year learning at home allowed her to do just that, 1 ½ grades in full motion, speeding ahead and enjoying the rush of the challenge.

"Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children" - United Nations, Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 26(3)

It was not our actual intention to continue beyond that one grade initially, however during that same year, one son seriously desired to school at home too, and when both sons wished to “do what their sister was doing”, it was by grace we continued to move forward with our educational pursuits at home. And so it began, a lifestyle of learning, at home instead of in an institutional building our taxes supported. We used our own funds to support our educational needs with curricula, outside courses or sports, and allowed it to become a way of life for all future children born within our home, who too, have been educated the same way as their elder siblings, though from birth.

I am beginning to suspect all elaborate and special systems of education.
They seem to me to be built upon the supposition that
every child is a kind of idiot who must taught to think.

- Anne Sullivan (Helen Keller's teacher)

Home schooling is not “school at home”, set up like a school with specific hours and bells. Home schooling is educating children as a personal “way of life”, with the heart of the home being a fundamental realization education is found in every facet of life, and can occur at any hour of the day, not limited to a fancy room, having recess whenever a break is necessary or not, no silly bells to signal time outs or back to class lineups. We in our family continue to work as a team, even as some of the members have moved out or married.

We roll through our days with a natural rhythm everyday, rising in the morning, proceeding with assigned daily chores, enjoying a breakfast meal, then rolling into daily schooling schedules, and continuing throughout the day working as we need to, in order to keep our regular routine in focus and in balance, yet remaining flexible enough to bend should the need arise. Our bending has included time off when hubby has his vacation days, time off for the birth of new siblings or grandbabies, time off to celebrate special feast days in the liturgical year, time off to celebrate personal Saint days or Name days (baptismal anniversaries) and allowing for those buildups of assorted doctor and dental appointments. Time off lately was to visit a daughter visiting from the west as I wrote about last week.

Upon occasion too, in and around all the hubbub of ever growing scheduled children’s activities outside of the home, mom and dad have “date times”, and mom often schedules in “mother culture moments” when necessary to recover from life’s busyness.

Our family’s home education has always required a huge commitment in all ways from we parents and certainly on me for sure, as I seem to participate and render the bulk of the teaching, purchasing of curricula and organizing of the family schedules. There are often depleted physical, mental, emotional, and financial moments, yet this educational adventure has been a personal vision we developed years ago as parents, loving it, embracing this way of life that others may or may not share or even understand our passion for. Certainly it’s equaled to a fulltime job for me, and there has been much in the way of sacrifice. Even still, though sounding a bit daunting when remembering it’s already pushing towards eighteen long years of teaching, we will continue to be diligent and press on with the pursuit of this lifestyle of learning.

In its Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis (GE) 3, the Vatican Council also forcefully reminds parents of this natural-law right and obligation to educate their children, teaching: "Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators."

Having accepted a work transfer geographically, and currently living in our new residence at the east end of our country, we value our ability to enjoy continued historical and geographical explorations. Along with this selected pursuit of education, we will forge ahead, plug along with tweeking schedules as necessary, and attend conferences to select and purchase curricula to enhance learning styles, raise our readers to think and dream, motivate, correlate and finally, assist them with their future plans for their personalized career or continued education choices down the road.

Here’s a peak into our required subjects and schooling philosophies….

In my opinion, many schools have given up on teaching classic and timeless literature. There is no pursuing the interests of the child (how can they, they are an institution so it’s highly impossible to do), nor often no whetting the appetite for the world around them through hands on nature studies with sketching and daily walks or hikes through their young world.

Poetry has been long forgotten, but it’s so important to include into our lives as we still use this communication art throughout our lives. If you don’t believe me, check out your local Hallmark store and watch their stocks climb year after year. I once wrote an article with our use of poetry in our home, and the response was enormous. It’s not passé so let’s get the books out and dust them off again!

Historical readers for most of his year..

One daughter’s favorite author in Grade 5 was “Charles Dickens” and the teacher was stunned when all other girls her age preferred “Judy Blume”, cornering me one day asking “how” in the world we were able to get our child interested in such a great author. At first I was amused, and then saddened as children are likened to sponges, so feed them well! Use good literature & throw out the junk is my motto!

The introduction of good literature happens at an early age of course, and our little ones always had an older sibling and/or mommy, reading aloud to them each day. There’s always a family novel on the coffee table in progress.

All men who have turned out worth anything have
had the chief hand in their own education.

- Sir Walter Scott

The younger children love to curl up each evening with dad as he retires early; waltzing toward him with puppy dog eyes every night and their favorite book in hand to read. He obliges them well, and these have become special moments as they tuck in beside him, often up to four children at one time in the past have cuddled up for the nightly readings. Favorite authors to date are; Charles Dickens, Aesop’s Fables (all of them), James Herriot, Thornton Burgess, Beatrix Potter, Laura Ingalls Wilder and selected stories from “Beautiful stories from Shakespeare for children”.

Of course too, we read many biographies of those folks who walked this earth before us, lives of those who lived in various centuries, those who battled, conquered and survived world disasters. Reading the lives of the Saints, lives of great explorers, convinces them those men before us have passed on much for continued skills relevant today.

Math lessons

We use a planned cycle for learning our history, this year the younger two are learning World History 1, elementary year level. We are into the explorers at this time, and when Canada celebrated Canadian Thanksgiving, we were also celebrating Columbus Day with a study of this explorer geographically and making replicas of his ships, the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

A retro-project, completing an older brother's
models of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria.

"To know nothing of what happened before you
were born is to remain ever a child"

-- Cicero

All of the children could tell you details of the Homer’s “Trojan War”, and “the Odyssey”, as well as; Egyptian, Greek and Roman histories, and of course – their own beloved science specialties; astronomy in our country dark night skies, and animals being the new favorite these days. *wink*

How about the long forgotten introduction to great musical composures (it’s been proven listening to Mozart improves the brain’s ability to absorb more and allow for better concentration), or introducing famous artists throughout the ages, those that lived and breathed on this earth in another era on the history timeline, gifting us with great historical values within their paintings of the time for continued study today.

The two younger children are currently attending an eight week art class offered by a local art gallery successful artist. So far the art mediums have been interesting with more to come to experience. To date they have sketched with pen and ink, molded clay to make two pieces of pottery and sketched with oil pastels for creating a unique piece of artwork scenery. Each week the teacher keeps their own individual art works in their portfolios for storage and will present them to the parents on the last day in an “art show” we are to attend in December. I can hardly wait to see it all, but here are a few pictures I took while there watching twice….

Art class items so far, pottery above, oil pastels below.

Our children still living at home could show you their sketch books and their beloved nature find collections. They can play a tune for you on the piano (or the many recorders in several keys), as music is one school subject they must attend and practice each day, and if I may say so myself, they are all becoming established musicians which is a great bonus for we the parents to listen to each day. *smile*

Lastly, I can’t stress it enough, there is the importance of teaching children and teens as much of the “Classical Trivium” especially during high school years as possible, being a gentle leader into the classical style of education, teaching the student to “rationalize and use a defense of clear logic”, rather than have their heads “crammed and filled” with irrelevant twaddle, hardly memorable in the future as a pleasant schooling experience to brag about.

One quarter of our family library filled with "living" books.

If you offer your children a book, ensure there is an efficient amount of “meat” in the vocabulary context, the story line isn’t silly or the book itself doesn’t dumb them down educationally. Toss out those garbage books and fill the shelves with “meat” for the mind. The brain is a muscle. Challenge the muscle to grow and get strong!

“Nourish a child daily with loving, right, and noble ideas...
which may bear fruit in his life.”

--Charlotte Mason, 1842-1923

Half of our "Great Books of the Western World" encyclopedia collection.

Our choices for curriculum as I’ve mentioned before change with each child leading the way with his specific interests in regards to his/her future, though mom has her own specifics which must be scheduled in as well. Take for instance the desire to enhance studies by use of a Liberal Arts education (back to good literature), getting thoroughly involved in the “Great Books of the Western World”, meeting up with great minds such as; Socrates, Aristotle, Cervantes, Aeschylus, Plato, Plutarch’s lives, Augustine, Shakespeare, and many more to equal an entire set of 60 precious classical readings still popular today centuries later. Yes, Mortimer Adler was able to reprint this “Great Book” series into a set of encyclopedias in the early 1950s and we’ve obtained a used set to use for schooling. It is best coupled if possible with a Socratic discussion method, and today you’ll find groups meeting all over the world to “suggest”, “discuss”, “debate”, and "conclude" on their relevance in education still today. These great minds of days passed had a heavy hand in molding the future of the world, teaching wisdom beyond the comprehension of mankind in their day, YET, their words ring true still, are in print for all to peruse and one cannot go wrong by absorbing them deep within our minds. Surely they are classic in nature and we can benefit from their written word for years to come.

Historical readers for Grade 9, 10 plus 26 more on order!

"Employ your time in improving yourself by other men's writings,
so that you shall gain easily what others have labored hard for."

-- Socrates

Mother here insists on “living books” that stand the test of time, those that make history come alive by making you feel as though you were there experiencing each and every detail along with the characters. We begin with a repeated cycle of Ancient Egypt, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, Middle Ages, and onward ho through the years, to the present modern day era. All the readings from historical timelines presented teach us about man and his life before us, what he did, what he thought, how he lived, where he traveled, customs of the day, family lifestyles and so on. These days with the assistance of the information superhighway of the internet, teaching and assimilating the wisdom in these great books of varied authors, has taken the student out of his own comfort zones, placing him/her before his webcam and microphone on the computer, to learn with fourteen others and two moderator teachers, live, in a cyber space class setting, discussing and throwing more logic and thinking into any arena available with the Socratic discussion methods being taught today. One daughter was present for such a class for the duration of three years, and not once did I have to remind her to catch up on the 4600-7000 plus (!) pages of reading expected each year.

That’s a lot of reading!

That’s a lot of history!

That’s a lot of wisdom attained!

This same daughter’s Grade 12 English professor who also taught in a local Western University admitted to her even he had not read all such titles and marveled that she had. She had fun poking quotes and text with him throughout her course, and wants her very own set of these “Great Book” encyclopedias for a wedding gift someday. Like her and the older ones, the younger ones are following suit with the completion for two of them of a first round of Great books readings in the Socratic discussion style online.

With these Great books in mind, Grade 10 math in high school, includes the use of “Euclid’s Elements”. One son works online with the Socratic Method discussions using Books I-III this year, for a Part 1 on this classical geometry. It will enhance his logic abilities for Algebraic question solving for the future, a huge advantage these days for our young people to give them confidence for future types of math and physics.

Online course - Euclid's Elements.

Shakespeare is a must! Oh yes, we read, absorb, act, attend live plays and giggle over his crazy famous coined sayings. And did you know many of his quotes are within Aesop’s Fable stories? I’ll quote one for you… “All that glitters is not gold”… Remember that one? Would you like to read more quotes yourself, try this link HERE;

The Bard visits our home frequently.

Education is a discipline.

Education is a life.

Education is a tremendous gift for those rich or poor, just for the taking.

Education does NOT end at graduation from high school, or college, or further studies.

Life is filled with educational possibilities making the old saying ring true; “If you aren’t learning something new everyday, why not?”

Our G.A. Henty collection grows and grows...historical classics all.

Perhaps this gives you an insight, if not a wee bit of clarity as to what our schooling philosophies include, either seeing the big picture we strive for in the education arena on behalf of our children, or perhaps you're certain now that we're totally nuts! *smile* It's okay you know, I think we've been subjected to almost every kind of kudo, scorn and direct insult over the years, still though it hasn't deterred our desire to continue inching forth towards our educational goals thus far. After almost eighteen years, those remarks roll off and our course stays firm.

Ride on cowboy!

If all this education sounds as though it can pass any academic testing around, it can. However without our faith permeating throughout every subject, through the liturgical year as well (great history significance here to note with this and a Bible in hand), and taking time to teach children to pray and know their catechism, all is lost. I can attempt to create and organize the perfect yearly schooling syllabus for each child to follow, tweeking as I go, but there are issues entering our lives to deal with no book ever taught us how to navigate around. Since we aren't perfect, there doesn’t happen to be a perfect curricula either. But, the good news is we were given a map to find the treasure, with three specifics called faith, Bible and tradition to find the "gold". In Deuteronomy 6:7 we are commanded to;
Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.

A high school diploma is not the only goal in life worth striving and sacrificing to attain, rather the ultimate goal to keep in mind is entering those pearly gates of heaven with our own salvation as the super life long goal overall. I would be remiss to exclude thoughts of these in the formation of our children's education, passing along the practice of virtues to challenge them and hopefully have them yearn for in the process. The learning curve is huge, intense upon occasion and worth every bit of it in the end.

Life is hard work - period!

Life is fragile, handle it with prayer.

Raising children is hard work - period!

It's a tough walk for each and every person somewhere along the journey

It can be often a long and sometimes difficult journey, not always a cinch to press onward, forks often appearing for us to choose which way to go, crossing our fingers and just hoping our choice will be the right one.

Likened to a race where winner takes all, "Life really is a Highway" but if we don't attempt to use our controllers to stay on the road, we can get a flat tire along the way...laugh. For this, AAA just can't help us out. But imagine how elated we will be just hearing the words at the end of the race of life.... "Well done my good and faithful servant"..... ahhhhhhhhhhhh......

It'll be worth it all! That's what we believe....

Tough as heck for sure, but at the very least, we all can try to do our best while walking along through our journey.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.

- Philippians 4:8

Good night, goodnight - Parting is such sweet sorrow….