Thursday, June 29, 2006

Come have a Field Day!

The first edition of Field Day, a nature study blog carnival, is now up at By Sun and Candlelight. I really love the idea of this carnival, and hope that you will go check it out! You might see an entry by someone familiar... :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Augustine on my side

Here's an interesting quiz. (H/T: Lapaz Farm Home Learning) Discover which philosopher you agree most strongly with. My top 2 were not a huge surprise. And I admit that while I'd heard of 14 of the 19 philosophers listed, I am not really familiar with the works of more than a few of them. But, at least now if one comes up in conversation, I know if I agree with them. Ockham? Why yes, he does have some interesting ideas, doesn't he? That Thomas Hobbes, though - what on earth was he thinking? Did his mother drop him on his head as a baby? He certainly had a tenuous grasp of reality at best.

Your Results:
1. St. Augustine (100%)
2. Aquinas (88%)

3. Ockham (73%)
4. Kant (67%)
5. Plato (67%)
6. Spinoza (61%)
7. Aristotle (53%)
8. John Stuart Mill (51%)
9. Prescriptivism (46%)
10. Jeremy Bentham (38%)
11. Nel Noddings (38%)
12. David Hume (36%)
13. Ayn Rand (31%)
14. Cynics (25%)
15. Stoics (25%)
16. Jean-Paul Sartre (23%)
17. Nietzsche (18%)
18. Epicureans (12%)
19. Thomas Hobbes (0%)

The results are scored on a curve. The highest score, 100, represents the closest philosophical match to your reponses. This is not to say that you and the philosopher are in total agreement. However this is a philosophy that you may want to study further.

26th Carnival of Homeschooling... here, at the Homeschool Café. Get yourself a cup of coffee and enjoy the good company!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Well, what did you expect?

I took this quiz a long time ago and got the Swiss Family Robinson result. I think I had high ambitions of self-sufficient homesteading at the time. Which I still think would be cool, theoretically, but I'm a bit more realistic now. So, I am now classified as follows:

What Type of Homeschooler Are You?

Salvador Dali Melting clocks are not a problem in your reality. You are an unschooler. You will tolerate a textbook, but only as a last resort. Mud is your friend. You prefer hands-on everything. If your school had an anthem, it would be Dont Worry, Be Happy. Visit my blog:
Take this

No big surprise there. Dh is "Abraham Lincoln", also no big surprise. I think we'll be able to work out a compromise. :) I like Melissa Wiley's description that what they do is Charlotte Mason, and how they do it is unschooling.

Hey y'all!

Your Linguistic Profile:
70% General American English
15% Dixie
5% Upper Midwestern
5% Yankee
0% Midwestern

Monday, June 26, 2006

wiki wiki wiki

That's a fun word! What, you didn't know it's a word? Me neither, until I read it on Melissa Wiley's blog. (Is she the expert of what's happening on the internet or what?) Anyway, a wiki is a website that anyone can edit. You know, like wikipedia. Well, there is a new wiki in town, one devoted to homeschooling. It's called Know Homeschooling. And, you can add your homeschool blog to their directory. And, you can win $500 for contributing! So get on over there!

A different path

Today we went to Turkey Run State Park in Indiana. This is one of our favorite places to go, as it provides a nice contrast to the usual scenery of very flat cornfields. Turkey Run is a fascinating little chunk of Indiana that was carved out by receding glaciers during the last ice age. The climate there is normally only found much farther north. So, there are beautiful hemlock trees, and ferns, and all sorts of interesting things growing all over the sandstone canyons that you don't normally see in this part of the world.

I had several ideas for educational activities we could do along the way, and planned to bring a sketchbook, camera, etc. I ended up forgetting all of that and was a little disappointed that I missed an opportunity to make something more of our trip.

We sometimes hike for hours, but decided to take it easy today and just meandered up one of our favorite trails. Samuel made the first exciting find of the day, a lizard warming himself (herself?) in a little patch of sunlight filtering down through the trees. We then headed up Trail #3, into Bear Canyon and up the 3 ladders where we stopped to admire a little waterfall. A little farther and then- was that thunder? Yes, then came another distant rumble. We were now out of the canyon and in the woods where there was no shelter, so we picked up the pace! I carried Samuel piggyback part of the way because there were many steps and he had trouble keeping up. Finally, we made it down into another canyon where there were abundant overhanging areas should it start to pour. We managed to get down past the most slippery parts before the rain hit, and then we climbed up a hill and found a nice cozy ledge sheltered by a wide overhanging rim of sandstone. We were very thankful that we sought refuge when we did, because right after that, the lightning got a lot closer - once striking a tree across the canyon from us - and the rain became torrential. We were safe and dry however, and got to enjoy the show. Samuel was a little frightened the few times that the lighting struck very near us, but overall we were just in awe of nature. We had such a beautiful view from our perch, looking out across the canyon, watching the stream that flows through it swell, and listening to the symphony of rain splashing and spattering, wind rustling the trees, and crashing thunder. To pass the time, we prayed and talked and played. But mostly we watched and listened. And I realized that God had other plans for us today than taking pictures and drawing in notebooks. We didn't get photos for my blog or drawings for Grandma. Instead, we got an experience.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

I am from

I discovered through Melissa at The Lilting House that Loni at Joy in the Morning proposed this writing contest based on the poem "Where I'm From" by George Ella Lyons. I am too late to enter, but wanted to try it anyway. If you decide to give it a shot by using this template, please leave a link to your poem in the comments section, as I would love to read it! Here's what I came up with:

Where I'm From

I am from ribbon barrettes, from Reeboks and roller skates.

I am from the little ranch house,
in Alabama, New Mexico, Texas, Mississippi, Illinois
From grapevines and yucca plants, lizards and squirrels, and always flowers.

I am from the cactus,
the piercing needles when I fall off my bike.

I am from driving aimlessly looking at lights on Christmas Eve
and political indignation,
from Mom, Dad, and Tara
and Grandmas and Granddaddies.

I am from the biting sarcasm
and well-hidden emotions.
From "Because I said so"
and "Do your best".

I am from lukewarm Catholicism, agnosticism, and finally orthodoxy.
From hot, itchy Sunday dresses, almost fainting during an endless rosary on a hot Biloxi afternoon,
From turning my back,
From kneeling at the feet of Mary.

I'm from Virginia, barbecue and cherry pie.
From the dirt in the dugout while Dad played softball, the splinters from the fiberglass bleachers, and the first steps of my little sister next to the chocolate brown ottoman.

I am from big leather albums in green and red,
Mom with a pregnant belly and Dad in a flight suit,
Tara in big shoes and a washcloth on her head,
Air shows and balloon festivals,
Disneyland and Sea World,
A long-haired white dog, caked in mud,
Chronicling a family that stuck together when there was nothing else to stick to.

Sail away, sail away, sail away

Touch Tank
Originally uploaded by
We went to Shedd Aquarium in Chicago on Thursday. Shawn and I had both been as children, and wanted Samuel to experience it. It was amazing. Unfortunately, it was hard to get good pictures as flash photography is not allowed in the majority of the exhibits. But, we got this great one of Samuel making friends with a starfish in the touch tank. It was SO soft. I guess I expected it to feel similar to the dried ones you can buy - silly, huh? How different to feel a soft, fuzzy, living sea star.

There were many, many things I wish I could show you pictures of. First on the list would be the look on Samuel's face when he saw a dolphin do the first trick of the show. It reared up out of the water and "walked" backwards on its tail, and Samuel was a combination of amazement and bliss.

Other memorable sights: dolphins swimming up to the glass in the underwater viewing area to look at us, the graceful dance of the beluga whales, the undulating red jellyfish, the beautiful alien sea dragons, the gliding stingrays, the rainbows of fish, the incredible energy and speed of Rockhopper penguins, the curious shape of the Shovel-Nosed Guitarfish (really!), and the sharks. Oh, the sharks! We could have watched them circle for hours, especially the sawfish.

If you are in the area, do not miss Shedd.

After our feet had had enough meandering through the oceans of the world (though the rest of us was only getting warmed up), we headed over to our dear friends' house in Elk Grove, where we dined on the Best. Pizza. Ever. Really. We have been craving it ever since, and are sincerely glad that we do not live in Elk Grove, because as much as we love Steve, Sheila, David, and Joshua, we would gain about 300 pounds from eating that pizza 7 days a week.

Needless to say, we'll have to visit Chicagoland more often, to see friends, visit the sights, and, well, eat pizza. Hey Steve and Sheila, doing anything tomorrow?

Catholic Homeschool Blog Directory here. Add your blog today!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

On the farm

Last weekend, we trekked up north with Grandma and Grandpa to visit dh's family in Wisconsin. We got there LATE Friday night, and left Sunday afternoon, but we sure did pack a lot into that visit! We stayed with Shawn's Aunt Jacqueline and Uncle Roger, and cousins Britney, Tyler, and Brandon. On Saturday, we all went to visit Uncle Terry and Aunt Jackie and see their new house and dairy farm. Here is Samuel with one of the calves.

We also visited with Shawn's grandparents, and got a tour of their workspaces. Great-Grandpa has a huge woodworking room (2, actually) where he makes the most beautiful furniture, cabinets, toys, etc. Shawn is so jealous. Great-Grandma has 2 rooms dedicated to her quilting. The house they are in used to be a duplex, and in what used to be the other kitchen, she has her sewing room. Can you imagine a whole kitchen, with cabinets and counters, all just for sewing? And, if that weren't enough, she has another whole room for her gigantic quilting machine. I am so jealous.

After that we headed over to Uncle Tony's, where we got a tour of their farm for rescued llamas. The llamas all answer to their names and are quite friendly, although they were a little skittish about all the kids. They also have a couple of goats, a miniature pig, and a chinchilla.

Then it was over to Uncle Tom and Aunt Helen's where we saw another menagerie. They have guinea hens, peacocks (traditional and white), a goose, quail, turkeys, emus, donkeys, Scottish highland cows, rabbits, hares, potbellied pigs, goats, and horses. And I'm probably forgetting a few. While we were there, we saw a bald eagle circling over some distant trees, which was very cool. I got a picture of it, and if you zoom the picture to the point that it is getting grainy, you can see that it is indeed a bald eagle. (Did I mention they were distant trees?) Then, back at Roger and Jacqueline's, we saw another bald eagle eating dinner in a field.

On Sunday after church, we went out on 4-wheelers for a bit. Samuel was very unsure about riding them, but once we convinced him to try it, he didn't want to get off. After a couple trips around the hay field on 4-wheelers, Roger took the kids for a ride on the hay wagon behind the tractor. Samuel had a blast with his second cousins, and did not want to leave! We will have to make the trip up there more often.

Here are all the kids with a 2-week-old Sicilian donkey. To see the rest of the pictures from our trip, go to my Flickr page here.

25th Carnival of Homeschooling for the birds. Fly on over there!

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Laugh or be furious?

Samuel: Um, Daddy?

Dh: Yeah?

Samuel: How 'bout you put Mommy to workin' on our dinner?

(Just so you know, Daddy often helps with dinner. Mommy just usually prefers to do it herself and have some quiet time while Daddy entertains the hyperactive five-year-old.)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A big day for Samuel

Here is Samuel, triumphant after swimming lessons today, because today he voluntarily put his face in the water! Several times!

And (you mean there's more???) he asked to take the training wheels off his bike today. So, we had our first trip down the sidewalk and back with me holding the back of his seat, telling him to keep his hands on the handlebars instead of reaching for me, and him replying in an anxious voice, "I don't like this... it feels weird... Mama!" We decided to take a break and try again later. He did not ask to put the training wheels back on, so I consider it a success!

Comments from Samuel

We went to a going-away party for a priest (dh's boss) who will be leaving us to go teach at a seminary. Samuel was not quite finished with his pbj sandwich and I told him he'd have to leave it in the car, to which he replied, "But peanut butter and jelly sandwiches make a funner party."


Dh went to bed before we did last night, and when Samuel was ready to hit the hay, he went to the bedroom, came back and complained, "Daddy is taking up a little of his part, and a little of your part, and all of my part!"


Samuel scooted over to snuggle by me when we woke up today, and after a few minutes asked, "Do we have to get up now?" I told him yes, that we should get up and have breakfast. He sighed and said, "Bummer."

There's more than one way to eat a hot dog

Yep, Samuel has taken an anti-unnecessary-bun stance.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Final Planting!

No, my marigolds don't look this good. That's a stock.xchng photo. My marigolds look pretty bad at the moment... but they are in the ground, marking the last of my spring planting. Probably my last until next year, unless I get ambitious and decide to do a fall planting. I always intend to, but am usually so fed up with my garden by that point that the only thing I want to do with it is throw rocks at it. However, this year things seem to be growing better. Maybe this year will be the year, the year when the cost we put into the garden will finally be justified by the bounty we shall harvest from it. As the summer is still young, I will try not to get my hopes up. There is still plenty of time for weeds, Japanese beetles, rabbits, and overgrown tomatoes to destroy the beauty that is now my vegetable garden. But for now, it is peace and tranquility. Unless those marigolds don't perk up. Then somebody better fetch me a rock.


I am trying to figure out how to get pictures on here, and if I need to size them differently so that they don't take forever to load. Bear with me here. All of our current pics are still on the camera (as usual) so I will post one of my old favorites, Samuel age 18 months, dressed as a Cardinal for Halloween/All Saints' Day.

It would be helpful if anyone who views this can tell me if it did indeed take forever to load. Thanks!

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Disco Lemonade

Our treat for the day:

Heat 4 cups water and 2 cups sugar over medium heat until dissolved. Cool 20 minutes. Add 2 cups lemon juice, and some lemon zest, if desired. Stir this mixture into an equal amount of ice water. If you, like my son, prefer pink lemonade, smash up about a half cup of raspberries, strain out the seeds, and stir that in too. Can substitute lime juice and zest for the lemon juice and zest, or strawberry or cherry juice for the raspberries. Enjoy! For extra elegance, garnish with ice cubes made from the lemonade containing whole raspberries. Makes great popsicles too. :)

PS: The title of this blog post comes from a horrible song, with a horrible name that I won't even type here. But dh and I always liked the phrase "disco lemonade" for some reason.

Friday, June 02, 2006

A pronouncement from Samuel

Last night dh got home late, we didn't feel like cooking, and basically we'll take any excuse to go out. So, we went to the local Mexican place, Sol Azteca. About midway through dinner, after polishing off his bean burrito, Samuel said (in a loud voice - is there another way?), "Do you know what my favorite restaurant is?" After a dramatic pause, during which we waited for him to name the establishment in which we were dining, he announced, "Monical's!" (A pizza chain.) At least there weren't any waiters standing nearby just then. And he did follow up by saying Sol Azteca came in second.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Read, already!

I've decided that unschooling will be a lot easier once Samuel can read. Sure, there's TONS of stuff we can do now, but I feel like he'll be able to really take off and be more self-directed once he can read. He says he wants to learn, but rarely does he want to sit down and actually work on it. We have been using the Little Stories for Little Folks program from Catholic Heritage Curriculum. It is a great program, and since we do it when the inspiration strikes, I still feel like it fits into our unschool-y life. I can see Samuel getting closer and closer to really making an effort to learn to read, but he's just not quite there yet. In the meantime, we are doing lots of read-alouds, and when I find little things I know he can easily sound out, I'll encourage him to give it a shot. He is very overwhelmed by reading, and usually spends twice as much time telling me it's too hard as he does actually reading, which he can almost always do pretty easily once I convince him to just try it.