Sunday, January 08, 2017
We are hibernating in our little den with the blizzard swirling all around outside. The snow has been piling up all day and we have had an accumulation of at least a foot in the past week I think. Several inches today. Pipes in our friends' homes are freezing and our pellet stove is running nonstop to keep our place warm. Schools are canceling and delaying and church was just a handful of whoever could drive themselves there safely. I am missing all the children and praying that they are warm and healthy enough in the middle of this terrible cold, knowing realistically that many of them likely aren't warm and some are hungry, especially if schools are canceling. I am thankful that the Lord promises He is everywhere, that He is good, and that He has good things for His children. We can trust Him with these little ones even when we can't get to them.
The sun catches red hair and glints while she pulls on her boots and I smile to see how fast she is at dressing herself for outside play these days. The season of their complete dependence on mama for snow clothes has passed and I remember just last year and the years before when it took a half hour or more just to get everyone out the door to play and then another half hour to change and clean up when they came back in. It's much simpler now with the two older ones being almost independent, leaving just Rosie needing more help.
I have had time this past week to reflect and plan a little about our school year. I am really satisfied with the curriculum choices I made for my first grader and kindergartner. Ambleside Online continues to be a really good application of Charlotte Mason's methods for us. I love the big scope of each school activity we do. The history reading is beautifully focused on ideas rather than trying to retain facts and details. The literature is beautiful: introductions to Shakespeare plays written by E. Nesbit, gorgeous fairy tales written in English of the past, Just So Stories by Kipling that have us laughing out loud, and this term we are reading AA Milne poetry which we really enjoy. School lessons are each very short (though there are several of them each morning) and we are done with our formal subjects by noon every day. Morning lessons even include sipping tea and nibbling snacks while listening to Gregorian chants this term. Our math curriculum is fast paced and full of variety but I see a lot of fruit already in the ways the girls are applying the concepts to much higher levels than I would have expected for their ages. I glanced ahead in the book and it actually introduces the concept of multiplication in a few weeks. Even their spelling has greatly improved and I can see the groundwork being laid for excellent comprehension of spelling rules for the future.
My new venture is to have a slightly more guided afternoon with several activity choices during quiet time especially since we are cooped up because of the cold. Because both girls are pretty independent for chunks of time with cross-stitch now, it's possible to include that as well as nature notebooks and reading in our afternoon. I really loved listening to this episode of A Delectable Education this week which outlined why afternoons are kept mostly free for the child to ruminate and explore and play. Our afternoons aren't always like that because of our participation in Kingdom Kids, but the days we are home I seek to have that mentality. Although we are having discouraging struggles with behaviors with one of our children right now, I am really thankful that school continues to be a time of joy and delight together.
I've been planning my personal booklist for 2017 and have some books there I've been wishing to read for a long time. I am wishing to read a few more nonfiction stories, like memoirs or biographies. I read a couple last year (The Boys in the Boat, for one) that I really enjoyed and felt like my read world was expanding in interesting ways, so I have added a few of those, although my list is still fiction-heavy. I was trying to decide what my favorite book from last year was and I thought it would be easier than it is because I read a lot of really great books. I think it is between Swallows and Amazons (by Arthur Ransome) or Gilead (by Marilynne Robinson) or Shiloh (by Helena Sorenson, no - not the Shiloh about the dog- this is the first in a series set in another world). All three stories are excellent and completely different from one another so it makes them hard to compare.
Our membership in the Read Aloud Revival has been worth the money. This month all three girls are participating in a daily read aloud challenge, and besides printing out a calendar for them to track their reading, I haven't had to do anything! My favorite thing is when I see them reading to each other but they can even read out loud to a stuffed animal or a pet. A couple days ago Lyddie read out loud to our dear friend and neighbor when she came by for a visit. This week we will get to participate in our first "author access event" where kids can interact live in a webinar with a famous author. This month's event is with Andrea Davis Pinkney who has written several great picture books. I can't believe some of the others that are on the schedule too: Jon Klassen, who wrote the hilarious stolen hat picture books, Jane Yolen (!), Tomie DePaola (!), Marla Frazee (!), Jennifer Trafton, Andrew Peterson...so many favorites. If you are a mom or a teacher and haven't checked out the Read Aloud Revival, the free podcast is worth listening to regularly!
January is ticking by and we are awaiting the official report from the appraisal of our new home. It may be another ten days based on the deadline but we are praying that the report would get in this week so we can keep moving along with buying. In the meantime we are dreaming and planning about the few things we hope to accomplish in the house before moving in - paint colors? Kitchen updates? We'll see!