Saturday, September 20, 2014


Just checking in to say.... we're still here. Getting back into doing All The Things has been rather all-consuming.

On the school topic (is there anything else?), Katie is Really enjoying this year's math! I haven't dwelt on it, but the past year, especially, has been awful, mathematically speaking, for her. The program we use for first through sixth grade is, I think, fairly rigorous, and the sixth grade materials are particularly so. When Travis was in 7th grade I struggled to find a good pre-algebra program for him. We actually tried three before we hit on perfection (Derek Owens), and when we did, what we found was that "pre-algebra" was easier than Singapore's Primary Math 6 (the one I've linked is the updated edition of what we used). However, creature of habit that I am, I kept the same sequence for Katie, skipping only the step of trying two other programs before starting her with Derek Owens, the upshot being that, having suffered the torments of Singapore 6, she is now delighting in the clear instructions and short (but adequate) assignments of DO. Happy days!

In other news, Latin this year is apparently going to be quite challenging. Maybe. At least, the kids are having a hard time adjusting to the generous doses of Henle which are added to the regular Fourth Form work. Of course, the start of the year is always a bit hard, just getting back into the habit of working and all, so maybe the drama will ease. I hope so!

Other stuff.....
Katie has started doing a Bible study/dance class (I think they finish one before starting the other, but honestly I don't really know) with what seems to be a nice group of girls, and next weekend she is going to see how she likes a local group of Girl Scouts. She's also volunteering one afternoon a week at the library, though so far half her "volunteer" time has been spent participating in an art class (the librarian's suggestion). Travis has been going to the art class as well, and they both are enjoying it. Travis has finally finished his Android app! It took him ages, but I think it is clever. Well, and very difficult, and not just because I am terrible at games. (If you are curious, send me an e-mail and I'll give you a link, but he doesn't want people searching for his app by name to come across his Mother's Blog. Just Imagine how embarrassing that would be!) He's now started on a new game, which also must remain nameless here. The internet opens up whole new realms of ways for mothers to embarrass their teenagers, but I am doing my best to avoid doing that!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Last Gasp

This is it. Monday we start.
So... today we played!
At church today we celebrated the 92 birthday of a very sweet woman whose plans for rest of her day were "to weed." Given that I sat beside her in the service and helped her hunt through her purse for her check -- she pulled out Food Lion receipts and old church bulletins, hopefully inquiring whether any of them might be her check, because her vision has become very poor -- I am curious about how her flower bed looks after a good weeding. Bound to be better than ours,anyway, which was recently mown to the dirt by someone in a fit of thoroughness. Maybe in the fall (meaning, October or so. September doesn't count) we'll buy a few plants and try again.

In reading news... well, I've been. Currently I'm enjoying Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere very much, I'm listening to Marc Morris's The Norman Conquest (it is also very good). I'm reading The Three Musketeers aloud the kids (we read the first three in the Hitchhiker's Guide series, and Travis and I were ready for a break. Katie was not.) and massacring French names left and right. But The Three Musketeers brings me to my funny (to me) bookish thing this week. In a book I read this month, Joe Abercrombie's The Blade Itself, one of the characters, an inquisitor, has assistants called "ordinaries." I assumed the name was just part of the author's world creation, but then... in Chapter II of The Three Musketeers, there they are again, "...the sovereign appointed Treville Captain of his Musketeers, who in devotion or rather in fanaticism were to Louis XIII what his Ordinaries had been to Henry III and his Scots Guards to Louis XI." Isn't that something? And then, same week, I was flipping through Keith Thomas's Religion and the Decline of Magic, looking for something I've forgotten, when I ran across a "cunning man." A cunning man is a late medieval/early modern wizard or magician, but I'd seen the term for the first time only a week or two before, in Daniel Abraham's The Dragon's Path (a book which started well but soon became so dull I finally gave up on it. And I rarely give up on books.). Again, I thought the author had made the term up, but it is actually a real thing! (Relatively speaking, I suppose, in the case of wizards. But you know what I mean.)
I'm also reading Augustine's Confessions. Slowly. But I've got some Facebook friends reading it with me now, so I really will read it. But not very fast, because the same charming but enabling group of people proposed that we (we readers of ambitious books) would also enjoy War and Peace (they recently finished Anna Karenina). I've never read War and Peace, and the edition suggested is an absolutely lovely shade of blue. So...

Anyway, back to today..
We went to Widow Falls after church. It was a lovely day, but lots of people there. 

Then ice cream. Someone was sitting on "our" porch swing, so we sat inside. Which means we'll have to make another trip, on a less popular day, so that we can get our yearly picture of the kids swinging and eating ice cream. I had Moose Tracks, and it was an excellent choice.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Still August

And I am clinging to summer with grim determination. We are starting back to school at (fairly) full force on September 1, but I am pretending that that date is not looming. I have enough of a roughish idea of what we are doing to get started on, and, Lord willing, once we actually start I will be filled with passionate enthusiasm for the whole learning/teaching thing. If not, faking it works too.

The pictures here are a hodgepodge that give an idea of what we've been doing. 
These are the brownies that Katie made for the Kate Campbell concert we were given free tickets for. She was lots of fun, and the reception, afterwards, in the church hall, was very nice. Katie's brownies were a hit, which was great, and Katie enjoyed Kate Campbell's stories about how she had started singing and writing music with a ukulele (Ed is currently on the lookout for a second hand ukulele, which Katie says she wants to learn.

Cats. Harry is still wicked.

Travis. Panda Cart (though the panda is no longer actually in a cart) is coming nicely.

Katie has been leaving me poems, either at  my place at the table, to find at breakfast, or on my desk. I think she is incredibly gifted.

Katie's very marvelous, amazing cousin (Ed's niece) sent a surprise gift (gifts, actually). This was the first part.

We went to the local pool. Hardly anyone there, which is the way we hermits like things.

And here Katie is opening the second part of her amazing surprise gift...
 (You can't tell from the pictures, where she is looking very composed (because she is self-conscious about smiling and showing her teeth), but she was very excited!)
 She saw these Doctor Who TARDIS/Dalek ice trays/chocolate molds on Amazon and wanted them. Ed said "no," being the reasonable man that he is, but I posted them on FB because I thought they were a hoot. And Katie's sweet, indulgent cousin decided to indulge her!
 Not only did she send TARDIS trays, but she also remembered that Katie had wanted Spotted Dick after reading about it in Harry Potter, and sent that too! If it were up to me, I would save that can, unopened, forever, just because the label makes me laugh, but Katie has already found a recipe for the custard that is suggested to go with it, so I suppose we will be opening the can and eating it soon.

Did you wonder what all those chocolate bars were for? Katie sure did! I let her open and share a couple of the KitKats and Reeces cups, but I made her wait, though I wouldn't tell her what for, to open the Hershey bars. They are now transmongified into delicious chocolatey daleks and TARDISes.


 The face off!

Today we meant to go back to Virginia, to Hungry Mother State Park, but there was a miscommunication and it turned out that they only have very short beach hours this late in the summer. Too short to be worth the drive. So...
Ed found us this wonderful pool/recreation area in Mount Airy! Closer to home, and, aside from the lack of a walking trail and my favorite ice cream store, quite perfect.
 There was a diving pool down the far end, beside that liveguard house.

 The kids had a great time with this thing -- a rope set up to swing out and drop into the water! Travis eventually scraped the dickens out of his foot on it, somehow, but up to then it was excellent!

And both kids climbed more stairs, thanks to this slide, than they do in months at home! There were only a couple other people there, and they had babies, so Katie and Travis had all the slides, diving boards, and rope swings to themselves. The place was a bit pricey, by our cheapskate standards, but we definitely got our money's worth!

Me. Ed cut my hair. It is still a mess, but there is less of it, anyway.

Afterwards Travis treated at the Dairy Queen. That is a happy expression, if you can't tell.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Lake Day!

Today was gorgeous, and we drove up to Hungry Mother State Park, in Virginia! There were very few other people there (maybe Virginia schools have started?) and it was lovely

The kids pooled their money and bought this excellent sand bucket!

And Ed surprised us by renting a paddle boat! We've talked about it, but now the kids are finally big enough to be useful "paddlers!"

The duck. Travis was very fond of this duck, and we followed it a long way up the lake!

The beach from the paddle boat.

Travis turning Katie into sand art.

She wanted to be a mermaid, but she wound up looking more like a turkey drumstick.

Me. It was a bit chilly by my (Floridian) standards. But that's why God gave us flannel.

We had a great time, and I think I've talked Ed into maybe taking us back next week!

And this is a drawing Katie made last week. We've been reading and discussing The Lord of the Rings. This is Treebeard holding Merry (or maybe Pippin, but probably Merry because Katie favors Pippin.). In the book he mentions that he initially took them for orcs and might have "trodden on them" if he hadn't realized they were not, but in Katie's version he has decided to squeeze the little orc's juices out into his goblet.