Monday, May 24, 2010

Vacuum Losing Power?

You might check the hose for clogs:

Just a thought...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Poetry in Motion

"How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!"

1st verse of "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson

Memorizing poetry has been part of our homeschooling life from the very beginning. We don't always proceed with vigor, but we've never quit, either.

Poetry adds richness to our days--the cadence of language, beautiful images, history, hidden meanings, and more. And the shared experience of reciter and listeners is valuable in itself. We've heard and learned favorite works over and over again through the years. Anyone in our house can recite the six succinct lines of RLS's "At the Seaside", for example.

We begin memorization even before officially starting kindergarten. Almost all our early poems are from a beautifully illustrated copy of A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. The older children move on to selections from The Harp and Laurel Wreath and Favorite Poems Old and New.

Rebecca just finished learning one of my favorites by RLS, "Foreign Lands."
"Up into the cherry tree
Who should climb but little me?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad on foreign lands."

(1st of five verses)

BTW, that's her in our own cherry tree a few days ago. Can you see how high Becca climbed? Probably not--she is a full story up, level with me on the deck! (Can you see the yellow-green fruit?)

This year the 4th and 6th graders have memorized several classic ("The Village Blacksmith") and historical ("Pocahontas", "The Gettysburg Address") works. Right now Joseph is enchanted by the whimsy of Lewis Carroll.

Explaining the context of historic poems can bring those older times to life, as well as making the facts memorable. When we toured the National Portrait Gallery, our guide was impressed that Marianna already knew so much about Pocahontas (her Christian name, her husband, her son, where she died, etc.). Here's a windy video of Marianna reciting "Pocahontas" at Jamestown last fall.

A final note: Last year Lauren made elaborate jewelry from paper for one of her art classes. Her teacher wanted the project to be personally meaningful, and that happened in an unexpected way. Lauren found an old book in the park, liked the paper, and proceeded to use it. As she looked more closely, it turned out to be the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. Leafing through, Lauren discovered words and cadences remembered from her childhood poetry sessions. She still knew the work. How cool is that?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010


My mom responded to my Mother's Day post by suggesting I not discount the effect of hormones on my psyche. She compared the 40's (okay, late 40's) to the teen years in the sense that changes and imbalances and transitions can make for unsettled (and often unpleasant) emotions.

When I was a teenager and a young woman, I took great offense at any suggestion that my gripe, complaint, anger, or sadness might be related to my hormonal stage. I believed that was a belittling of my experiences, as if they didn't matter or weren't true/real.

Now the same idea brings me relief! The thought that at least some of my angst or easily triggered unhappiness might be due to chemicals is more pleasant than the belief that life is really that tough.

Knowing that my life stage itself may be a factor helps intellectually, although I doubt it will change any emotions. I've never been one to successfully talk myself out of a bad mood. I can understand, but that doesn't change my feelings--it seems they need to fade on their own.

Final quote from Mom: "It does get better!"

Monday, May 10, 2010

Good Sports

Since David's been driving to school (since March 15th--thanks for asking), I've been reveling in my freedom from rush hour. Unfortunately, now that I'm not needed for transportation, I've attended only two lacrosse games this season. Bad mom.

Their team made it into the state tournament, so tomorrow they'll be riding a bus to the game. Four HOURS away. Yikes!

Last week, Len, the younger siblings, and I watched our boys play and their team win on a beautiful, sunny day.These aren't exciting shots except that I can recognize my son. Mostly it's hard to tell who's who under all the gear.And some action: How can you go wrong with a ball and sticks and a game that encourages hitting players with said sticks? I'm pretty sure that's David's favorite part. ;-)Daniel does spend most of his time ready to play. He's the backup goalie, but will likely be a starter next year (our current goalie is graduating). He did play one entire game (strep throat sidelined the other guy) and performed well (11 saves out of 14 shots).

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Mother's Day

I've struggled through the past week or two, fighting (and sometimes not) angst and gloom, and on the edge of tears multiple times a day (even in public!). The causes were various, including outside circumstances, my own temperament, and my character flaws. No fun.

The intense emotions began to dissipate, but I felt certain that I wouldn't be able to enjoy Mother's Day. What if no one did anything special for me? What if they did but only because I guilted them into it? Shame on me for caring anyway, when my family loves me every day. Not a productive internal dialogue...

As I began to calm down, I found myself easier to live with. (Hopefully everyone else did, too!) There are still some stresses and worries on my plate, but I am more peaceful. And this morning's plate held a delicious breakfast:Everyone pitched in to prepare my pre-Mass treat. Daniel even walked the dog! Note the interesting touches: the spiral cut orange and mini vases filled with cream and sugar cubes (clever, and just the right size). If I remember later, I'll post a picture of our family's "special day" plate.

Fan Photo

My sister-in-law recently bought me Elizabeth and Danielle's book as a "sursi"* and I managed to get to the Catholic Shop yesterday to have it signed. (I ended up buying myself the companion journal as well.) I appreciate their reassurance in the introduction that there is not a wrong way to use Small Steps; it's okay to read it each day, or many entries at once, or once in awhile. Life changes, and so will the way I use this resource.

I stayed for an hour as online and IRL fans and friends of Elizabeth arrived, chatted, and left, smiling, with their books in hand. It was a refreshing breather in my week.

*Sursi is a word my mother invented when I was a child. It means a spontaneous, usually small, "just because" sort of treat or gift.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Dream Come True

We interrupt our current Lauren coverage to bring you news about . . . Lauren!

She called this morning to let us know she's been accepted into the fall 2010 program at the Aegean Center for the Fine Arts. Applications were due May 1, and the odds were about 8 to 1 against her, but Lauren received her good news this morning. So soon!

This 14 week classical arts program is held in Italy and on the Greek island of Paros. If I wasn't so happy for her, I'd be extremely jealous.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Great News

I don't have much to say lately, but let me tell you about Lauren again...

  1. She's turned in her application, personal statement, and some photos to the Aegean Center. Please pray she is accepted into the fall program.
  2. Lauren has been hired to sell fireworks this summer. It will be an incredibly intense three weeks, and should provide fodder for plenty of fun stories!
  3. Best of all (so far--see #1), Lauren has landed an exciting internship with a studio photographer in Baltimore. A talented friend had a fabulous experience with Roy Cox, and mentioned the opportunity to Lauren. She'll save significant commuting time by spending a few nights a week at my sister's house.
My blog is not really turning into a kid-brag sheet (is it?)--it's just that right now some of their lives are more newsworthy than mine.