Sunday, June 17, 2018

Poem of the Week: Those Winter Sundays

Those Winter Sundays

Sundays too my father got up early
and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,
then with cracked hands that ached
from labor in the weekday weather made
banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.

I’d wake and hear the cold splintering, breaking.
When the rooms were warm, he’d call,
and slowly I would rise and dress,
fearing the chronic angers of that house,

Speaking indifferently to him,
who had driven out the cold
and polished my good shoes as well.
What did I know, what did I know
of love’s austere and lonely offices?

HT: Poetry Foundation

Not winter, but this poem makes me think of my Dad, shaking down the coal stove at 4 in the morning, then coming in to kiss my cheek before he left for work.  Happy Father's Day!

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Poem of the Week: Invitation to Love

Invitation to Love
By Paul Laurence Dunbar 
Come when the nights are bright with stars
Or come when the moon is mellow;
Come when the sun his golden bars
Drops on the hay-field yellow.
Come in the twilight soft and gray,
Come in the night or come in the day,
Come, O love, whene’er you may,
And you are welcome, welcome.

You are sweet, O Love, dear Love,
You are soft as the nesting dove.
Come to my heart and bring it to rest
As the bird flies home to its welcome nest.

Come when my heart is full of grief
Or when my heart is merry;
Come with the falling of the leaf
Or with the redd’ning cherry.
Come when the year’s first blossom blows,
Come when the summer gleams and glows,
Come with the winter’s drifting snows,
And you are welcome, welcome.

HT: Poetry Foundation

Friday, June 1, 2018

Teaching Tests

Zorg and Leena decided that they like doing math together, and since Zorg has already completed all the math he actually needs, he likes to keep up his skills with her.

Sometime in January they finished up Geometry, but instead of going into PreCalculus, they decided they'd like to do a test review class.

The community college where Zorg takes classes (joined by Leena next fall) doesn't have any entrance requirements, but it does have a placement exam, done on computer.  So far Zorg has only needed the English placement, but eventually they will both need the math placement.

My kids have never taken standardized tests, and that kind of testing is a definite skill, especially since some of the math is presented in a strange format (I know this because Mxyl and Klenda did these tests).

So I got a book on preparing for the Accuplacer test, and they've been enjoying it.  They know the math involved pretty well, but are learning a lot from the presentation.  It's funny, but after many years of intentionally not "teaching to the test," I'm teaching how to take tests!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Hall of Fame and Keeper of the Flame

 Aren't my mom and dad a cute couple?!

They're not really big on awards and recognition, but I got them to put on their ribbons and medals so I could take a picture of them.

My dad just got inducted into the US Army Ordnance Hall of Fame!

My mom was just given the Keeper of the Flame award.  This is actually the companion award to my dad's Samuel Sharpe medal (life time ordnance achievement award- Samuel Sharpe was George Washington's ordnance officer).

It's an award designed to honor and recognize some of the women who kept the home fires burning while their husbands were risking their lives taking apart bombs.

It sound a bit odd when put like that, but it really takes a strong stomach (and a will of steel) to deal with the continuous strain of near constant, potentially fatal deployment.  It's even harder (for both parties) to have a happy marriage while doing it!

But my Dad often said that he could do what he did because my Mom did what she did.

And in my mom's case, she kept the literal fires burning!

That's her with her ribbon, medal, and coal stove!

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Finishing Awesome American History

Hooray!  After three semesters, we finished our book and our study of American History!

Naturally, we had a party.

Miss Shelli brought the photos she had taken for our "Migrant Mother" project way back when we studied the Dust Bowl.

It really is amazing what you can do with a professional photographer (and beautiful friends and children) on staff!

So we took 3 semesters for World History: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern.  We also took three semesters for American History.

What's next?

Well, remember The Big Trip?  It kind of petered out because I wasn't able to keep up with History and Science classes as well as the regular home schooling AND The Big Trip.  But it would make an Awesome Geography class...

Stay tuned next semester, and see where we go with that!

Monday, May 28, 2018

Poem of the Week: The Dead

The Dead
These hearts were woven of human joys and cares,
      Washed marvellously with sorrow, swift to mirth.
The years had given them kindness. Dawn was theirs,
      And sunset, and the colours of the earth.
These had seen movement, and heard music; known
      Slumber and waking; loved; gone proudly friended;
Felt the quick stir of wonder; sat alone;
      Touched flowers and furs and cheeks. All this is ended.

There are waters blown by changing winds to laughter
And lit by the rich skies, all day. And after,
      Frost, with a gesture, stays the waves that dance
And wandering loveliness. He leaves a white
      Unbroken glory, a gathered radiance,
A width, a shining peace, under the night.

HT: Poetry Foundation

Friday, May 25, 2018

Seven Quick Takes: Easter Rodents, Goslings, and Nuns Falling Down Stairs

 How's that for an appallingly click-baity title? Well, I may be throwing my sister (the nun in the title) under the bus, but at least I didn't throw her down the stairs.  Ahem.  On to the Takes!

1.  Klenda took first for her watercolor in the community college's art! Here she is with her ribbon and trophy!

Which leads us to her next big announcement: in the Fall she will be starting full time art school!
She picked the Schuler School of Fine Arts, a school known for teaching the classical art she loves.

She'll still be living at home, but commuting by train to Baltimore.

2. Oob: Come quick, Peter and John are looking for Jesus!

Me: ????

Peter and John turned out to be Sun and Moon, Leena's gerbils.  They were running in and out and all around our Easter tomb, looking very much as if they were looking for someone.

So I ask you, Catholic home school win for knowing scripture?  Or lose for rodents in your Easter display?

 3.  I'm pretty sure this photo encapsulates everything I like about Boy Scouts.

The boys in blue are Choclo and Oob.
 4. I went up to NJ on Mother's Day weekend to see my folks and my youngest sister, who was home from North Dakota for her home visit (she's a SOLT sister).

A few days before I arrived, she slipped down the basement stairs and badly sprained her arm.  (But she's feeling muuuuuch better now!).

When I got there, I realized that the outer edge of each step was worn into a slanted groove that could have been designed to shunt people down the stairs at high speed.   Klenda and I (hopefully) solved the problem by stapling these high traction stair treads across the top and under the lip of each step.

I mention all this because I accidentally took a weird picture of it: this is a photo looking down from the top of the steps, but, to me, it looks uncannily like it was taken looking up the steps.

4. After 4 days of heavy rain, we had a Ducky Day!  I haven't had one of these in years, but we did this whenever it rained when the Zoomlians were little!

The kids play in the biggest puddle we could find, quacking like ducks, then it's home for baths, popcorn, and warm chocolate. Yum!

It was kind of bittersweet knowing that this was one of the last Ducky Days I'm likely to get as a mother,  but watching Zorg and Leena swing dancing in a giant puddle sort of made up for it!

5.  The giant puddle happens to be next to Lake Artemesia (on the road between the parking lot and the lake),so also enjoying the wet weather were actual ducks and these fine geese.

Yeah, this is a gratuitous gosling post, but they're so cuuuuute!

 6. Wrapping up Awesome History, my photographer friend, Shelli, did a black and white series modeled on the classic Migrant Mother photo by Dorothea Lange.

Shelli came up with this shot of Klenda looking beautiful and serious.

I, on the other hand, couldn't keep a straight face,

7.   Choclo: What do you get when you cross Captain America and the Hulk?
Me: What?
Choclo: A Star Spangled Banner.

And with that, I hope you have a marvelous Memorial Day weekend!  We'll be busy visiting our family graves, hosting a cookout, celebrating another birthday, and helping our local veterans celebrate the big day.  More fun with Kelly!

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Visit From Angel

 Way back when we started this blog, when Oob was just a baby, we had Angel living with us.  She was getting a Masters degree at the JPII Institute and needed a place to stay.

She got the Zoomlians started swing dancing, and she took Hula Girl for a boat ride.

She reminded me about the wonders of jello, and I advised her on naming her children.

She did award winning gingerbread, and she dove headfirst into the Zoomlian craziness.

She's a dear friend, and she helped me sooo much!
 And now she's married and lives in Switzerland!

And has 2 little ones of her own with a third on the way!!

So, when she was passing through the States on her way back home, we jumped at the chance to see her and her dear ones.

How adorable are her kids?!

And how great to catch up!

Here's hoping we get to see them all (and her sweet husband) more often!!