Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Cookies: No-Bake Chocolate Fingers

NO-BAKE CHOCOLATE FINGERS, from Canadian Living's Family Cookbook

INGREDIENTS: 

1 pkg (350 to 400 g) digestive biscuits (For those of you who can't get digestive biscuits, you can substitute 1-3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs.)
½ cup finely chopped nuts (we use hazelnuts)
½ cup butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp instant coffee granules
1 Tbsp hot water

2 eggs, beaten
2 tsp vanilla

GLAZE:
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 Tbsp shortening or possibly butter or cream cheese (I do not usually have shortening around so I have tried other things)

WHITE CHOCOLATE DRIZZLE (our addition): A bit of white chocolate: melt and add to the top after the rest is set. NOTE: You do not need to use as much as we did--a little drizzle is good. More than that makes them hard to cut.

INSTRUCTIONS

Line 8-inch square pan with waxed or parchment paper, leaving enough paper hanging over the edges for easy removal later.

1. Using food processor or rolling pin, crush biscuits until in fine crumbs (or use a food processor). Transfer to bowl and add nuts.

2. In saucepan or bowl set over simmering water: melt butter; whisk in sugar and cocoa.

3. Dissolve coffee in hot water; add to pan and cook over simmering water, whisking for 1 minute or until thickened and sugar is dissolved.

4. Whisk in eggs and vanilla; cook, whisking, for 4-5 minutes or until thickened slightly. Remove from heat.

5. With fork, stir in crumb mixture. Mix well.

6. Press firmly into prepared pan (lined with wax paper). Cover and refrigerate until cool, about 1 hour.

GLAZE: (don’t prepare this until base is cooled and ready)

1. In saucepan over simmering water (or microwave), stir chocolate with shortening until melted and smooth.

2. Pour over base, spreading evenly.

3. Cover and refrigerate until set.

4. White Chocolate Drizzle, optional: melt and drizzle. Let set before cutting.

5. Using waxed paper as handles, lift square from pan. Cut carefully into small squares or fingers (running hot water over the knife helps).

6. Keep covered in refrigerator. These will keep for several days.
Previously posted here.

Monday, December 29, 2014

What's for dessert? Cran-raspberry pie.

Today's made-up-as-we-go dessert recipe: Cran-Raspberry Pie.  I did not make the filling very sweet; the only extra sweetener in the fruit part was the cranberry sauce. If you find that too tart, you could add sugar or other sweetener.

Ingredients:

Unbaked pastry to fill a 10-inch pie plate (I used pat-in pastry).  If your dish is smaller, you can adjust the amounts of filling.

1 cup frozen cranberries
Frozen raspberries to fill up the crust
Half a can of wholeberry cranberry sauce, mixed with 1 tbsp. cornstarch, spread over the fruit in the crust

1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup quick oats
1/2 cup oil or choice of other fat

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Fill crust with fruit and cranberry sauce. Combine flour, sugar, and oats, and stir in oil to make crumbs. Top pie with crumbs, right to the edges.  Bake 10 minutes at 425 degrees, then turn down to 350 degrees and continue baking about 40 minutes or until fruit is cooked and topping is golden but not too brown.  Whipped cream is nice on top, but it would be fine alone too.

Flea market finds (books)

From a nearby antiques mall, today:
The Avion My Uncle Flew, by Cyrus Fisher. A 1990's Scholastic printing.
The Golden Legend, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Used in Charlotte Mason's schools.This copy is not in very good shape; the spine is cracked inside. But I think the lady on the cover is delightful.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Charlotte Mason, Salvation and Service

In a post of January 2013, on Philosophy of Education (Volume 6), chapter 3, I wrote this: "[Charlotte Mason] believed that Christian thought had previously over-emphasized the issue of personal salvation, to the neglect of concern for 'the community, the nation, the race.'"

That's a mild way of putting it. In Ourselves Book II (Volume 4), Chapter XI "Freewill," she sends that message home loudly and clearly.  She has been talking about the need for mature adults (not young children who are still developing "the way of the will") to do everything deliberately, even if everything just means choosing which habits you acquire.  She scolds not only those who swallow current "intellectual and moral fallacies," but those who settle for "commonplace respectability which never errs, because every act conforms to the standard of general custom; not by choice of will, but in lazy imitation."  
No risk, no pain, but no gain, and even more, no real giving or serving, no object outside of themselves. Aha. She admits that those entrenched in commonplace respectability are "excellent citizens," but sees that they mostly follow the rules, embrace that conventionality, for their own good.
And for her that wasn't good enough. "Life, circumscribed by self, its interests and advantages, falls under the condemnation,––'He that saveth his life shall lose it.'"
"And this reverence must be paid even to those sinners whose souls seem to be dead, because it is Christ, who is that life of the soul, who is dead in them: they are his tombs, and Christ in the tomb is potentially the risen Christ. For the same reason, no one of use who has fallen into mortal sin himself must ever lose hope..." -- Caryll Houselander, A Rocking Horse Catholic (quoted in Elizabeth Goudge, A Book of Comfort)
"Therefore, Christ ate with publicans and sinners, and pronounced woes against the respectable classes because the sinners might still have a Will which might rise, however weakly, at the impact of a great thought, at the call to a life outside of themselves." -- Charlotte Mason, Ourselves
So much for the sinners: what of the respectable, impeccable ones she was talking about before? She uses the word "unconscious," referring to quick and unthinking decision making vs. using the Will, but "unconscious" can also refer to that state of lifelessness that she saw in those who did not consider themselves sinful. In outright sinfulness, there was at least the potential for repentance; complacency seemed more difficult to fight against.
But this is where is gets deeply theological, and those who have ever questioned Charlotte Mason's commitment to Christianity must have missed this passage. I'm paraphrasing here for the sake of length: if you have to serve somebody, God or man, you might possibly end up serving God somewhat without using the Will IF your personal goal is to help other people. That's possible.  BUT you cannot just "drift into the service of God" (her phrase) if your main interest is yourself, EVEN if that main interest is your own salvation. No two ways about it."Will must have an object outside of itself, whether for good or ill; and, therefore, perhaps there is more hope for some sinners than for certain respectable persons." In her theology, salvation was important; but the aim of the Christian life was to serve God.
She concludes by saying that you cannot catch hold of the Will and analyze it, define it, count all its parts; like a leprechaun in a field, trying to trap it will elude you. Is it then something that you have to allow to sneak up on you, perhaps like grace that can catch you unaware? Without getting into Calvinist/Arminian Lutheran/Baptist arguments, yes, you are caught by grace, but that grace, she says, may come in the form of an idea or a call that your Will responds to, "however weakly." So there is an act of choosing, of answering and following, and that choice brings you to life "outside of yourself."

Saturday, December 27, 2014

What's for supper? Use up your noodles

Tonight's dinner menu:

Pasta and sauce, meat optional
Raw vegetables
Garlic bread, made from homemade whole wheat bread, melted butter, garlic powder, chopped parsley

Ice cream
Tonight's Pasta Recipe:

Part of a package of noodles; part of a package of whole grain spirals
One can pasta sauce, a bit of leftover tomato paste
Chopped mushrooms, yellow peppers, and grape tomatoes
Olive oil for the skillet
1 pound ground beef
Parmesan cheese for sprinkling

Warm a spoonful of olive oil in a large skillet. Add chopped vegetables and tomatoes, and simmer a few minutes.  In another pan, brown and drain a pound of ground beef.  Add half the can of pasta sauce to each pan, and some tomato paste to the vegetable pan.  Simmer while you cook a potful of mixed pasta and noodles because you forgot to buy spaghetti.  Let everyone mix and match sauces as they want.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Quote for the Day, from John Donne: No More Mercy

John Donne, from Sermon preached on the Evening of Christmas Day, 1624. 
One of the most convenient hieroglyphics of God is a circle, and a circle is endless; whom God loves, he loves to the end; and not only to their own end, to their death, but to his end, and his end is, that he might love them still.... God is thy portion, says David; David does not speak so narrowly, so penuriously, as to say, God hath given thee thy portion, and thou must look for no more; but, God is thy portion, and as long as he is God, he hath more to give, and as long as thou art his, thou hast more to receive.... The sun is not weary with six thousand years shining; God cannot be weary of doing good; and therefore never say, God hath given me these and these temporal things, and I have scattered them wastefully, surely he will give me no more; these and these spiritual graces, and I have neglected them, abused them, surely he will give me no more.... God is a circle himself, and he will make thee one; go not thou about to square either circle, to bring that which is equal in itself to angles and corners, into dark and sad suspicions of God, or of thyself, that God can give, or that thou canst receive, no more mercy than thou hast had already.

Do crocheters make New Year's resolutions?

This post lists New Year's resolutions for crocheters.  They're not the funny sort, e.g. I won't try four times in a row to make a mitten pattern that obviously has something wrong with it before unravelling all the attempts and making something else. But you might find them useful anyway.

As for me, I don't have any crocheting resolutions except not to crochet anything in particular for about the next six months.

P.S. The crafts page is now okay for peeking.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Making Christmas Dinner (photo post, now with comments)

Cookies and fudge
Sheri Graham's favourite bread machine roll recipe (we used half whole wheat flour)
Raw vegetable plate: carrots, pea pods, grape tomatoes, and a yellow pepper cut in stars
Cranberry-apricot loaf, oranges, and some very ugly figs because that's what the store had
Ready to put the hot things out.  On the menu: turkey breast, ham, white vegetable lasagna, roasted sweet potato slices, mashed potatoes (the instant kind), corn, salads, homemade cranberry sauce, rolls, raw veggie plate, pickled beets.  Chocolate star-shaped cupcakes with whipped cream squirtles, the cookie plate, raspberries, and the plate of oranges, figs, and cranberry loaf.
The paper napkins were from Food Basics. The matching cardstock for the stars and candy boxes was made by photocopying one of the napkins. We had extra napkins, so I folded some into triangles and glued them together to make a tree for the dining room mirror.

Merry Christmas. Peace on Earth.

Peace Quest poster found here.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Quote for the day: Father Tim likes Marcus Aurelius

In Jan Karon's novel Shepherds Abiding, Father Tim quotes Marcus Aurelius to an elderly friend:
“The first rule is to keep an untroubled spirit. The second is to look things in the face and know them for what they are.” ― Marcus Aurelius, Meditations 
Here are a few others 

“Reject your sense of injury and the injury itself disappears.” 

“How much more grievous are the consequences of anger than the causes of it.”

“The best revenge is not to be like your enemy.” 

“When another blames you or hates you, or people voice similar criticisms, go to their souls, penetrate inside and see what sort of people they are. You will realize that there is no need to be racked with anxiety that they should hold any particular opinion about you.” 

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Quote for the day: from The Wind in the Willows

"The rapid nightfall of mid-December had quite beset the little village as they approached it on soft feet over a first thin fall of powdery snow. Little was visible but squares of a dusky orange-red on either side of the street, where the firelight or lamplight of each cottage overflowed through the casements into the dark world without....the two spectators, so far from home themselves, had something of wistfulness in their eyes as they watched a cat being stroked, a sleepy child picked up and huddled off to bed, or a tired man stretch and knock out his pipe on the end of a smouldering log...Then a gust of bitter wind took them in the back of the neck, a small sting of frozen sleet on the skin woke them as from a dream, and they knew their toes to be cold and their legs tired, and their own home distant a weary way....They plodded along steadily and silently, each of them thinking his own thoughts." ~~ Kenneth Grahame, "Dulce Domum," The Wind in the Willows

Monday, December 15, 2014

What we're singing in French: Voici Noël (Silent Night)

A Christmas carol for French class:

Voici Noël, ô douce nuit!
L'étoile est là, qui nous conduit: 
Allons donc tous, avec les mages, 
Porter à Jésus nos hommages
Car l'enfant nous est né,
Le Fils nous est donné! 

Voici Noël, ô quel beau jour! 
Jésus est né! quel grand amour!
C'est pour nous qu'il vient sur la terre, 
Qu'il prend sur lui notre misère. 
Un Sauveur nous est né, 
Le Fils nous est donné! 

Lydia's Grade Eight: In the week before Christmas comes

Lydia got quite a lot done over the past two weeks, but she managed not to read any science or not to do any composition.  On the other hand, she read all the assigned chapters of Don Quixote and Fierce Wars and Faithful Loves, so that's good.  These are the things left on the list for this week, but there are a lot of them, and the Apprentice is here, and there are things to make and so on, and I am not feeling all that disciplined myself, so we'll see what happens.

Bible Study
o 2 Samuel 10-13:20; Matt 17:19-18:14; Psalm 119:123-136; Proverbs 10:12-21
o 2 Samuel 13:21-15; Matt 18:15-19:15; Psalm 119:137-155; Proverbs 10:22-32

The Bible Through the Ages
o 10 pages/wk: Apostle to the Gentile World; Letter writing; Thessalonians, Galatians; Corinthians, Philippians

Celebrating the Christian Year
o  Look ahead to Epiphany on January 6th.

December hymns and carols: "Wake, Awake" (Nicolai); "All My Heart This Night Rejoices" (Gerhardt)

Reading and Writing Stuff
Commonplace Books, Copywork, and Recitations (Memory Work)
o  Copy passages from poetry, plays, and the other books read
o  Practice Scripture passage(s): (choose which you will memorize)
o  Practice poem(s):
o  Other memory work:

Narration (all subjects)
o  Oral narrations of readings
o  Reader's Journal: one page, twice a week, on any of your readings (choose which you will write about)
o  Keep Book of Centuries and/or other notebooks handy as you read or listen; make entries at the end
o Other kinds of narrations: dramatic, musical, artistic...

Write with the Best Vol. II
o  Unit 4: Persuasive Essays.  Day 1 (read "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine), 2 (look at definitions of essay, thesis statement)
o  Day 3 (reread Common Sense and look for arguments, main point, conclusion), Day 4 (consider topic and thesis statement for a persuasive essay)
o  Day 5 (5 Objectives), Day 6 (Begin writing essay)
Homework over Christmas break: continue working on your essay.  Look at Day 7, 8 etc. for guidance.

Read How to Read a Book, Chapter 10, Criticizing a Book Fairly (this is the point where the reader gets to talk back)
o   Read The Importance of Suspending Judgment, pages 142-145

Mathematics:  Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.  Chapter Three, Functions and Their Graphs

Lesson Four
o  Introductory problems
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-18 (workbook)
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: the price of a pizza

Lesson Five
o  Introductory problems
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III

Lesson Six (you may not get to this before Christmas break)
o  Introductory problems
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond, Set I, Questions 1-13 (workbook)
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond,  Set II, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: racecars
o  Summary and Review, Set I, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Summary and Review,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Further exploration, as time permits

A little more Picture Study:
o  Introduction to Albrecht Dürer (see references at the end of the Renaissance book from last term)
o  Dürer's woodcuts for Martin Luther's Christmas Book

Composer Study: Jean Sibelius - Finlandia. (Chapter in Modern Composers for Young People, by Gladys Burch.) From Wikipedia:  Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

Handicrafts / practical skills
o  Make something decorative or useful for the holidays.
o  Help with holiday baking!
o  Make notes in your Enquire Within notebook.

Literature
Shakespeare: The Merchant of Venice, finish Act I.

Read Mythology by Edith Hamilton, ten pages/week.

Part One of Don Quixote:  (Christmas break homework: finish Part One)

Read History of English Literature
o  chapter 52 Bacon--New Ways of Wisdom.  "'I have read in books,' he wrote, 'that it is accounted a great bliss to have Leisure with Honour. That was never my fortune. For time was I had Honour without Leisure; and now I have Leisure without Honour. But my desire is now to have Leisure without Loitering.'"
o  chapter 53 Bacon--The Happy Island. (About Atlantis)

Read Rawley's Life of Francis Bacon (printout) (read this after the History of English Literature chapters)

Fun Christmas readaloud, maybe: Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Necklace of Pearls"

Geography
Read Journey to The Source of the Nile, by Sir Christopher Ondaatje
o  Read with Mom, pages 27-49 (Chapter One).  Follow on the map provided.

Science and Nature Readings
Keeping a Nature Journal
o  pages 90-91, seasonal changes in winter
o  page 92, "Seeing Signs of Winter"
o  page 97, "Combining observation and research"
o Spend time outdoors and make entries (written, drawn, lists) in your nature journal

Human Physiology and Health: Read Exploring the History of Medicine
o  Chapter 1, The First Physicians
o  Chapter 2, Medicine Goes Wrong. "If the corpse and the book don't agree, the error is in the corpse!"
o  Chapter 3: Fabric of the Body,  Andreas Vesalius
o  Chapter 4: Father of Modern Surgery, Ambroise Paré.  "I treated him. God healed him."
o  Chapter 5: The Living River (William Harvey). Supplement: "William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood," by Thomas Henry Huxley (printout).
o  Chapter 6: The Invisible Kingdom (the microscope)

History Readings
Read The Story of Mankind
o 13. Meawhile the Indo-European tribe of the Hellenes...
o 14. The Greek cities that were really states

Read Canada: A New Land
o England on the Atlantic Coast (spread over two weeks), pages 160-178
o The Dutch Claimed the Hudson River District, pages 179-183

Read Churchill's The New World
o Chapter 11, pages 115-124, to "...Spanish match." (Guy Fawkes, James I, Charles, 1605)
o  pages 124-130, beginning 'In the midst of these turmoils,' ending with 'London greatly aided them in this.' (Mayflower; James's children betrothed; Jacobean Charles I crowned)
o  pages 130-138: last half of chapter 12.

French lessons, outlined elsewhere

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Quote for Advent III: Candles in the Wood

From Pilgrim's Inn (The Herb of Grace), by Elizabeth Goudge: on a day of Christmas-season miracles, nanny Jill and the five-year-old-twins look for holly in the woods.
"Will there be candles lit again in the wood as it's nearly Christmas?" asked Jerry.
"No, dear," said Jill. "There are never candles in the wood. There are lighted candles on Christmas trees, and in people's eyes when they're happy, but not in woods."
"There were the first day we came. We saw them when we went away."
"The sunset behind the trees, perhaps," said Jill....
(Later in the chapter)
As she sat on the rock she was not consciously thinking any more of the mystery of that moment when she had thought she saw the shining hoofprints on the path; she was watching a nuthatch running like a little mouse up the trunk of the tree opposite her, listening for the tap of its beak, feasting her eyes upon the glow of the holly berries above; yet because of it she saw a little more deeply into the beauty of bird and berry, heard a music in the tappings that she would not have heard before. And so it would be for the rest of her life. 
The music of the nuthatch was lost in the music of small feet running, and the twins were with her again, incredibly dirty, leaves in their hair, mud on their faces and their reefer coats, but with very pink cheeks and candle eyes....At the door of the Herb of Grace they paused and looked back. It was nearly dark now, with the stars pricking through. The last fires of sunset were still flaming low in the west and  a thousand candles had been lit upon the trees that stretched their shade deep beyond deep in the dark wood.  ~~ Elizabeth Goudge, Pilgrim's Inn (The Herb of Grace)

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Three things we didn't bake today

Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Christmas Trees.  Warning (tip): we used the red gel as recommended, but the dots stick to anything they touch--wax paper, other cookies, etc.  Another time I would probably use either candy sprinkles or some kind of icing that hardens better.
No-Bake Coconut-Date Squares, from Vegetarian Times Magazine
No-Bake Apricot Nuggets, from Canadian Living Magazine (not cut yet). Lydia's turn to make these, this year!

Yum: ambiguity in science writing.

Also called: the importance of commas. Especially when the original attempt at humour falls flat.

I read this to Lydia this morning, from Gary Parker's Exploring the World Around You:

"Consumers include plant eaters or herbivores....An organism that eats anything, such as a teenager, is an omnivore."

Lydia, understandably, looked at me in horror.

Even with the commas, that's a bit creepy, don't you think?

Advent hymn for today: Wake, Awake, For Night is Flying

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Brown Sugar Buttons (shortbread)

Lydia and I made Brown Sugar Buttons today.  

Crocheted Snowflake, and links to more patterns

Today's Frugal Tree Ornament: Yes, there are about as many crocheted snowflake patterns as there are...snowflakes. But this is one I found this year, and I like it because it uses plain old worsted-weight yarn, which I have, and because it's actually pretty simple: no picots or anything fancy, just six points. Each snowflake is meant to be one motif in a garland, but just one makes a good tree ornament.

Are you looking for last-minute things to crochet? Check out Crochet.About.com ; they keep adding "best of" posts with free patterns. There are links to the best ornaments and so on on All Free Crochet, on Craftsy, on Ravelry, and so on. 

Monday, December 08, 2014

Crocheted Mitten Ornament

Today's Frugal Tree Ornament: I had just enough red yarn left to make one doll-sized mitten (from this pattern at Cobbler's Cabin). I put a little craft stuffing into it, ran a ribbon through the top, and scavenged two mini pinecones, greenery and tiny balls (on picks) from an old (thrifted) candle ring.

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Lydia's Grade Eight: School plans for the week

Last Tuesday we got started with Term Two, but we also got interrupted by an unscheduled day-long field trip, an unavoidable church meeting, and a couple of other things I can't remember. This is also going to be a four-day week, but those days we will be doing some Serious School.
So: Bible. Composition. Math. Grammar. French. History. A little more Merchant of Venice, a little more Don Quixote, a few more paintings of the Nativity (part of art study). We will also be starting Journey to the Source of the Nile and the life of Jean Sibelius. And making Christmas cookies.
Those are our plans--how about yours?

My teddy, Grandpa's rocker

Family treasures at Christmas. My grandpa was born on a farm in what's now part of Toronto, at the turn of the last century, and he and his sister used this little chair as children. 

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Dewey's Treehouse Christmas archives: where to look for things

Just so everybody knows: a while back I started a Christmas page, here; that isn't the family-keep-out page, it's a collection of links to our holiday recipes, some seasonal posts, book quizzes, a series about Christmas picture books, and Dewey's Favourite Christmas Songs (with You-tube links, most of which are still functioning). Anything from the past almost-decade, it's there.

The Twelve Days of French Lessons

We have three weeks of school in December, and out of fifteen school days we will probably get to French lessons on about twelve of them.  So: the twelve days of French.  Workbook pages refer to Complete French Smart 7 (Popular Book Company (Canada) Ltd.); supplements are online resources or books we have on hand.

Day 1 Page 40 Party vocabulary: food, amusements
1. Read the birthday party deal at the Mont Cascades Waterpark. Pretend the brochure is available only in French and your parent does not read French. Explain what is included in the package.
2. In the workbook, copy out the food words. How do you say "a slice of pizza?"
3. Use the white Larousse picture dictionary, page 40, the large illustration of a party. Locate the person wearing un chapeau de fête. Count les ballons (in French). Count les cadeaux. What are they planning to use for la musique? What are the words for birthday and party? How do you say "we are going to the party?" How do you say "throw a party," "let's start the party!" and "a surprise party?" (workbook page 44) How do you say "happy birthday?"
4. In the workbook, copy the party words.
For fun: L'anniversaire d'Arthur, part 1 (French version of a CD-Rom we used to have)

Day Page 41 Party vocabulary: supplies
1. Collect a pile of real objects: plates, cutlery, napkins, glasses. Play a sort of Simon Says with them: touche les assiettes, etc. (Notice that these are all plural forms.) Be able to name each object, then add the word "jetable"  (disposable) to each one. Then add a camera, batteries, and candles to the mix.   Practice the vocabulary.
2. In the workbook, copy the supply list. Review the meaning of "des."
3. Review: On the Mont Cascades website (from yesterday), find the menu page for school groups.  You need to choose the lunch option for your class trip.  Which one do you think most of the students will like?

Day 3 Page 42 Ce, cet, cette, ces
1. Read through the explanation of these words. Go back through the food list, adding "I like this --" or "I like these --" each time. Repeat, using "Do you like this --?"
2. Do the written exercises in the workbook.
3. Extra vocabulary: learn the expressions for "this year," "we can." Make up sentences in this pattern: "This year we can send a card (envoyer une carte) to Grandmother." "This Christmas we can send a present to Cousin Suzanne."
4. Begin learning the song "Voici Noël." 

Day 4 Page 43 Using ci and là
1. Review the work with ce, cette etc. Say that you would like that dress, those games, those disposable forks, that pizza.
2. Read through the use of ci and là (these ones here are mine, those ones  there are yours). Do the workbook exercise.
3. Read the completed exercise out loud for pronunciation practice.
4. Practice "Voici Noël."

Day Page 44 Fill in the blanks story (about a party) based on grammar lessons
1. Review expressions "à moi," "à toi." (mine, yours). Practice saying things like "This dress is mine," "That balloon is yours." There is another way to say "mine" (le mien): explanation here.
2. Add colour words to sentences, to say things like "This yellow dress is mine," "That blue balloon is yours."
3. Review ci and là, using the expressions for "these () are mine, these () are yours."
4. Review the pronunciation and meanings of the following list: ses; ces; sa; son; ce; c'est; cet; se; cent; sept; cette; ça. Some of them sound the same, but they mean different things.
5. Start working through the story, filling in the blanks.

Day Page 45 Sentences to translate
1. Finish the exercise on page 44 if necessary, or go through the answers as a review.
2.  Treat page 45 as a mini test: can you do it on your own? 3. Practice "Voici Noël."

Day Page 46 Time adverbs; next, last
1. Practice the time adverbs by answering questions such as "How often do you eat candy?" "How often do you brush your teeth?" Answer with "never," "rarely," sometimes," "often," "always."
Allez-vous souvent à la piscine? (Are you often going to the swimming pool?)
Oui, régulièrement (Yes, regularly)
Ah oui? À quelle fr
équence? (Really? How often?)
Deux fois par semaine (Twice a week)

2. That little section at the bottom of the page: these are adjectives, not adverbs. Practice combining them with words for week, year: last year, etc.
3. Chorus to sing: "Hier, aujourd'hui, demain." (Chorus book p.4--French version of "Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow")

Day 8 Page 47 Place adverbs, manner adverbs
1. Study the vocabulary on page 47. Review expressions "Comment ça va?" "Ça va bien." "Ça va mal." 2. Make up sentences with "He plays, "I play," We play," plus the adverbs for together, alone, badly, slowly, etc.
3. Play a game: One person sings a song (O Canada, or "Voici Noël"). The other person directs in French: "Sing quickly." "Sing slowly." "Sing badly." "Let's sing together." "Sing alone."

Day Page 48 Using place adverbs correctly 
Fill in the blanks!

Day 10 Page 49 Answering questions with adverbs

Day 11 Page 50 Time agreement of verbs with adverbs (present or near future)
1. Verb review first! Present tense of -er and -re verbs, and irregular verbs, especially aller. Use aller to indicate futur proche.
2. Go through the exercise, noting only which sentences require present tense and which ones require futur proche.
3. Go through the sentences again, conjugating the verbs.

Day 12 Page 51 Using near future when expressing an upcoming event with "dans" 
1. Review present tense of aller
2. Practice these types of sentences orally. When are you going to send your Christmas cards? I am going to send my cards in a week. When are you going to telephone your grandmother? I am going to phone her in an hour.  When are we going to open our gifts? We are going to open them on Christmas day.
3. Do the workbook page.
4. Watch Sol and the Christmas Tree:  OR  Choose an episode of Arthur to watch in French on Youtube.(search for Arthur and Diminou--Diminou is D.W.)

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Lydia's Grade Eight: Homeschooling in December, and the questions I ask myself

Some homeschool families take December off, or do Christmas unit studies. We did some of that when the girls were younger. But the trouble with trying to squeeze about 39 planned-out weeks of school between Labour Day and the end of June, and include March Break and a few other days off (planned and unplanned), is that you can't really do all that and not do at least some school work in December. So we will get started this Tuesday with Term Two of Year Eight, then take our two weeks of holidays with the public schoolers. (Monday is going to be a finish-exams day.)

I'm thinking...I'm always thinking about this, but I have varying degrees of success...how can I take this list of mostly readings, and make it more of An Atmosphere, A Discipline, A Life? And still be a little bit relaxed, because it's December after all?  If I were doing Charlotte Mason consulting for some other family, what would I add or scrub? Where is Mrs. Dowson's unity of thought? Where is the thing that engages attention? How do we encourage delight? Where is Lydia the person, and Mama Squirrel the teacher, and Mr. Fixit the principal, and the rest of the family, and the community and the world (physical) and the universe (spiritual) she lives in? What relationships are we building?

And how does one do this most effectively with just one eighth grader who enjoys doing most of her work independently?

Some ideas, things we might do: Re-emphasize a certain kind of routine or "horarium," one that offers both discipline and atmosphere--for instance, having readaloud times in front of the fireplace upstairs, instead of shivering in the basement. (It's only an electric fire, but we like it.) But also maintain quiet, non-distracting spaces where a person can focus on math and grammar. Make things graphic where that helps (using notebooks, visual organizers). Give her enough opportunities to use her power of choosing.

School goals for December (three weeks' work):

Read The Bible Through the Ages, begin the section on the New Testament
o 10 pages/wk, starting at page 132: The World of Jesus; Life and Ministry of Jesus; Spreading the Good News
o 10 pages/wk: Apostle to the Gentile World; Letter writing; Thessalonians, Galatians; Corinthians, Philippians

Bible Study
o 2 Samuel 10-13:20; Matt 17:19-18:14; Psalm 119:123-136; Proverbs 10:12-21
o 2 Samuel 13:21-15; Matt 18:15-19:15; Psalm 119:137-155; Proverbs 10:22-32

Celebrating the Christian Year
o  Look ahead to Epiphany on January 6th.

December hymns and carols: "Wake, Awake" (Nicolai); "All My Heart This Night Rejoices" (Gerhardt)

Donatello, Madonna Pazzi
Art History / Christian Studies
Read Seeing the Mystery: Exploring the Christian faith through the eyes of artists
o  Preface: What do artists really show us?
o  Chapter 1: The great paradox, pages 13-26.  Works featured in this chapter: paintings from the Roman catacombs; Correggio, Adoration of the (Christ) Child (1520); Madonna and Child on a Curved Throne (Byzantine icon); Donatello, Madonna Pazzi; Caroline Hamilton, "Mary and Baby Jesus"; Inuit carving, "Mary and Jesus"; Gentile de Fabriano, The Adoration of the Wise Men (Magi); El Greco, Christ Driving the Money Changers; James Ensor, Ecce Homo (Christ and the Critics); Christ Pantocrator (icon).

A little more Picture Study:
o  Introduction to Albrecht Dürer (see references at the end of the Renaissance book from last term)
o  Dürer's woodcuts for Martin Luther's Christmas Book

Composer Study: Jean Sibelius - Finlandia. (Chapter in Modern Composers for Young People, by Gladys Burch.) From Wikipedia:  Finlandia, Op. 26 is a symphonic poem by the Finnish composer Jean Sibelius. It was written in 1899 and revised in 1900. The piece was composed for the Press Celebrations of 1899, a covert protest against increasing censorship from the Russian Empire, and was the last of seven pieces performed as an accompaniment to a tableau depicting episodes from Finnish history. A typical performance takes anywhere from 7½ to 9 minutes.

The Twelve Teas of Friendship
o  Read pages 88-89, Gifts of Friendship.

Handicrafts / practical skills
o  Make something decorative or useful for the holidays.
o  Help with holiday baking!
o  Make notes in your Enquire Within notebook.

Outside classes: weekly drama class.

Citizenship
Keep a calendar of current events in the back of your BoC.

Read Whatever Happened to Justice
o chapter 16, Political Law.  "It is made up law, created out of nothing."
o chapter 17, Discovery vs. Enactment

Read Ourselves Book II, Part II, THE WILL.
o  page 137-middle of 138,  Chapter III, "Will Not Moral or Immoral." Before reading, review the idea of putting a "dividing line" between people who have acted with Will, and those who have acted with Wilfulness. "The wilful person is at the mercy of his appetites and his chance desires...without power or desire to control the lead of his nature..." But Will "implies impersonal aims...[it means] the power to project himself beyond himself and shape his life upon a purpose." There are also those who do not call upon Will, who "think as other people think, act as others act, feel what is commonly felt, and never fall back upon their true selves, wherein Will must act...Life is to such persons a series of casualties..."

This is the whole section to read:
To 'Will' is not to 'be Good'––Perhaps what has already been said about Will may lend itself to the children's definition of 'being good,' and our imaginary dividing line may appear to have all the good people on the one side, and all the not good on the other. But the man of will may act from mixed motives, and employ mixed means. Louis XI., for example, in all he did, intended France; he was loyal to his own notion of his kingly office; but, because he was a mean man, he employed low means, and his immediate motives were low and poor. An anarchist, a rebel, may propose things outside of himself, and steadfastly will himself to their accomplishment. The means he uses are immoral and often criminal, but he is not the less a man of steadfast will. Nay, there are persons whose business in life it is to further a propaganda designed to do away with social restraints and moral convictions. They deliberately purpose harm to society; but they call it good; liberty to do as he chooses is, they say, the best that can befall a man; and this object they further with a certain degree of self-less zeal. It is the fact of an aim outside of themselves which wins followers for such men; the looker-on confuses force of will with virtue, and becomes an easy convert to any and every development of 'free-thought.'
It is therefore well we should know that, while the turbulent, headstrong person is not ruled by will at all,––but by impulse, the movement of his passions or desires,––yet it is possible to have a constant will with unworthy and even evil ends. More, it is even possible to have a steady will towards a good end, and to compass that end by unworthy means. Rebecca had no desire but that the will of God should be done; indeed, she set herself to bring it about; the younger, the chosen son, should certainly inherit the blessing as God had appointed; and she sets herself to scheme the accomplishment of that which she is assured is good. What a type she offers of every age, especially of our own!
The simple, rectified Will, what our Lord calls 'the single eye,' would appear to be the one thing needful for straight living and serviceableness.
Literature
Shakespeare: begin The Merchant of Venice (you have already read about this play in History of English Literature, Chapter 47).  A thought for this play: can we decide which characters have Will, and which ones are just Wilful?


Read Mythology by Edith Hamilton, ten pages/week.  Alternatively, read Till We Have Faces.

Read Part One of Don Quixote, John Ormsby translation, adapted for schools by Mabel Wheaton (we have a copy of Ormsby, which I've edited temporarily using a pile of Post-It Notes).  This will probably be a readaloud for us, at least until Christmas.
o  Mabel's introduction
o  Chapters 1-5 (pages 1-18 in our copy)
o  Chapters 6-10 (pages 18-54, following the Post-It Note skips)
o  Chapters 11-15 (pages 54-92)
(Homework over the break: finish Part One, chp. 16-19, pages 104-199 in our copy, with omissions)

Read History of English Literature
o  chapter 52 Bacon--New Ways of Wisdom.  "'I have read in books,' he wrote, that it is accounted a great bliss to have Leisure with Honour. That was never my fortune. For time was I had Honour without Leisure; and now I have Leisure without Honour. But my desire is now to have Leisure without Loitering.'"
o  chapter 53 Bacon--The Happy Island. (About Atlantis)

Read Rawley's Life of Francis Bacon (printout) (read this after the History of English Literature chapters)

Poetry:  Read Fierce Wars & Faithful Loves (Spenser's Faerie Queene Book I with contemporary explanations and footnotes)
o Read the Introduction and "Beginning"; then read Cantos 1, 2, and 3.  I would say let's read it aloud, but there are so many notes and things that it seems to make more sense to read it to yourself.

Fun Christmas readaloud, maybe: Dorothy L. Sayers, "The Necklace of Pearls"

Geography
Read Journey to The Source of the Nile, by Sir Christopher Ondaatje
o  Prologue: A Song of Africa.
o  Read pages 27-49 (Chapter One).  What led up to this (1996) journey to the source of the Nile? Compare with the reasons for beginning the Kon Tiki expedition. What did Ondaatje hope to achieve?

Science and Nature Readings
Keeping a Nature Journal
o  pages 90-91, seasonal changes in winter
o  page 92, "Seeing Signs of Winter"
o  page 97, "Combining observation and research"
o Spend time outdoors and make entries (written, drawn, lists) in your nature journal

Ecology and Nature Study: Read Exploring the World Around You
o Chapter 7, Food. "Hydrogen atoms [are] neither created nor destroyed [in photosynthesis], but just rearranged. That's an expression of one of the most fundamental laws of science, the law of conservation of matter."

Human Physiology and Health: Read Exploring the History of Medicine
o  Chapter 1, The First Physicians
o  Chapter 2, Medicine Goes Wrong. "If the corpse and the book don't agree, the error is in the corpse!"
o  Chapter 3: Fabric of the Body,  Andreas Vesalius
o  Chapter 4: Father of Modern Surgery, Ambroise Paré.  "I treated him. God healed him."
o  Chapter 5: The Living River (William Harvey). Supplement: "William Harvey and the Discovery of the Circulation of the Blood," by Thomas Henry Huxley (printout).
o  Chapter 6: The Invisible Kingdom (the microscope)

History Readings
Keep a Book of Centuries with all history studied (Bible, English, Canadian, etc.)

Read The Story of Mankind
o 13. Meawhile the Indo-European tribe of the Hellenes...
o 14. The Greek cities that were really states

Read Canada: A New Land
o England on the Atlantic Coast (spread over two weeks), pages 160-178
o The Dutch Claimed the Hudson River District, pages 179-183

Read Churchill's The New World
o Chapter 11, pages 115-124, to "...Spanish match." (Guy Fawkes, James I, Charles, 1605)
o  pages 124-130, beginning 'In the midst of these turmoils,' ending with 'London greatly aided them in this.' (Mayflower; James's children betrothed; Jacobean Charles I crowned)
o  pages 130-138: last half of chapter 12.

French and Latin
French
o  Unit 7: The Party.  Demonstrative adjectives.
o  Unit 8: Where, when, how?

Latin: catch up on the lessons we had started earlier.

Reading and Writing Stuff
Commonplace Books, Copywork, and Recitations (Memory Work)
o  Copy passages from poetry, plays, and the other books read
o  Practice Scripture passage(s): (choose which you will memorize)
o  Practice poem(s):
o  Other memory work:

Narration (all subjects)
o  Oral narrations of readings
o  Reader's Journal: one page, twice a week, on any of your readings (choose which you will write about)
o  Keep Book of Centuries and/or other notebooks handy as you read or listen; make entries at the end
o Other kinds of narrations: dramatic, musical, artistic...

Easy Grammar Plus (workbook), pages 188-205

Write with the Best Vol. II
o  Unit 4: Persuasive Essays.  Day 1 (read "Common Sense" by Thomas Paine), 2 (look at definitions of essay, thesis statement)
o  Day 3 (reread Common Sense and look for arguments, main point, conclusion), Day 4 (consider topic and thesis statement for a persuasive essay)
o  Day 5 (5 Objectives), Day 6 (Begin writing essay)
Homework over Christmas break: continue working on your essay.  Look at Day 7, 8 etc. for guidance.

Read How to Read a Book, Chapter 10, Criticizing a Book Fairly (this is the point where the reader gets to talk back)
o  Teachability as a virtue, pages 137-140.
o   Read The Role of Rhetoric, pages 140-141.(Note: this is a short section, but I think we might need to explain about the Trivium a little more than Adler does here)
o   Read The Importance of Suspending Judgment, pages 142-145

Mathematics:  Mathematics: A Human Endeavor.  Chapter Three, Functions and Their Graphs

Lesson Three
o  Introductory problems
o  Functions with Line Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-23 (workbook)
o  Functions with Line Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-21 (workbook)

Lesson Four
o  Introductory problems
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-18 (workbook)
o  Functions with Parabolic Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: the price of a pizza

Lesson Five
o  Introductory problems
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs, Set I, Questions 1-16 (workbook)
o  More Functions with Curved Graphs,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III

Lesson Six
o  Introductory problems
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond, Set I, Questions 1-13 (workbook)
o  Interpolation and Extrapolation: Guessing Between and Beyond,  Set II, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Optional: Set III: racecars
o  Summary and Review, Set I, Questions 1-15 (workbook)
o  Summary and Review,  Set II, Questions 1-14 (workbook)
o  Further exploration, as time permits

Friday, November 28, 2014

Lila: A Novel, by Marilynne Robinson (book review)

Lila: A Novel, by Marilynne Robinson. Farrar, Straus and Giroux (October 7, 2014)

If you've read Marilynne Robinson's earlier books Gilead and Home, you know who Lila Ames is; she's the second wife of an elderly, widowed, small-town preacher named John Ames. Gilead is his own memoir, written to their young son who will, presumably, read it when he's older. Home concerns John Ames' friend Boughton and his family. And this book is Lila's own story: where she came from, how she wandered into the old man's church, risked trusting him, and became an inseparable part of his life.

Without trying to give away too much, Lila had a very rough beginning, an alienated upbringing, and a mostly-horrible young adulthood; it's a miracle that she survived at all.  Soon after her arrival in the town of Gilead, somewhere around 1950, she "borrows" a Bible from John Ames' church, and begins reading from the book of Ezekiel: "In the day thou wast born thy navel was not cut, neither wast thou washed in water to cleanse thee...No eye pitied thee." As she explores Ezekiel and, later, the book of Job, she discovers more images of loss and abandonment, and then redemption, large ideas that resonate with her own experiences. By the end of the book, life for Lila and "the Reverend" has changed in many ways; "she could make a pretty good meat loaf now and a decent potato salad." They have settled into their own version of "normal," which includes their new baby. But many questions remain, both spiritual and everyday ones; there are things that will never be known for sure, including the fate of the woman who raised Lila.  The time they will have together is also uncertain. Does it matter what can or can't be known, as long as love and grace are there? 
 
Recommended for those interested in thoughtful fiction by Christian writers. 

Education is a discipline: shopping with mother, and the end of the series

(All posts in this month's Education is a Discipline series)


Charlotte Mason defined "Education is a discipline":  "By Education is a discipline, is meant the discipline of habits formed definitely and thoughtfully, whether habits of mind or body."

Purposefully. Intentionally. The opposite of automatically, thoughtlessly--which sounds like a paradox if you're talking about habits, letting your feet take the path they have always walked on. But it's the formation of the habits themselves that needs to be definite and thoughtful. There's nothing wrong with a habit if it serves a purpose. I've used this CM quote before:  "Shall we live this aimless, drifting life, or shall we take upon us the responsibility of our lives, and will as we go?" (Ourselves Book II)  
And also this one:  "Before she goes 'shopping,' she must use her reason, and that rapidly, to lay down the principles on which she is to choose her dress,--it is to be pretty, becoming, suitable for the occasions on which it is to be worn, in harmony with what else is worn with it. Now, she goes to the shop; is able to describe definitely what she wants...judgment is prompt to decide upon the grounds already laid down by reason and what is more, the will steps in to make the decision final, not allowing so much as a twinge of after-regret for that 'sweet thing' which she did not buy." (Formation of Character)
These could be restated from the adult's point of view: Shall we allow our students/children to take upon themselves the responsibility of their lives, and will as they go?  Will we allow them to learn to use their reason, to choose, to know definitely what they want, to make decisions without regret?
So let's talk about shopping. A couple of days ago, Mr. Fixit and Lydia went to a thrift store which was having a half-price sale, so it was quite busy. In whatever other respects my girls' education may have failed, they are at least good clothes-choosers. Lydia came home with a lovely pair of two-tone pumps, which she actually needed to go with a dress, and she bought a couple of other things. She told me that in the change room next to her there was quite a lot of drama going on between a girl about her own age and a mother. The mother didn't like what the girl was choosing, the girl didn't like what the mother was suggesting. The mother kept bringing skinny jeans and trendy clothes, the girl wanted more casual sweaters. The mother said, "You're too fat to get into these anyway. You should lay off the Christmas cookies." (Lydia says the girl did not appear to be overweight.)
Obviously, none of us want to act like that, for quite a few reasons. But particularly in the teaching of Will, that mom gets an F.

Remember the House of Education student who got the comment from Miss Mason, "You have come here to learn to live?" You can interpret that in different ways, but in this context I think she meant living with purpose. Having a sense of who you are, what you're doing, and why you're doing it. 
What's the "real world," anyway, and who's to say who is or isn't living in it? Is education just what a teacher tells you to memorize, and information just what comes at you over whatever gadget you carry around? Do we have to rebel so hard, trying to get whatever knowledge is out there, that we frighten ourselves? Or do we allow the hard work of learning to turn us into computers wearing tennis shoes? -- Dewey's Treehouse, 2010
Teaching discipline does not mean making them scrub the latrine with a toothbrush.

It does not mean parents always telling our children what to wear.  It does not mean teachers laying down meaningless assignments (especially under the rationale that hard work builds character).

This is what I think it means: teaching I am, I can, I ought, I will.

And this is also what I think it means:
 14so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. 15Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, 16from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love. (Ephesians 4:13-15, ESV)