The Classical Cat Corner

Wear the old coat and buy the new book. --Austin Phelps

Tuesday, June 28, 2005


I read of a family who uses this for their devotions to start the day. I think I'll be getting these when we finish with the book we are currently using.

Monday, June 27, 2005

I'm back!!!!!

And life returns to the I wish I could have a week or so like I had this past weekend. I think we relaxed so much that it FELT like much longer than a day and a half!

Well, we left here on Fri around 12:30. The boys had basketball camp that morning and the last 2 hrs of that, the church had rented one of those HUGE blowup had water at the bottom so they slid down into the water; they also had one of the jumping "tent" things.

We stopped in Columbia, SC at Fuddrucker's for of our FAVORITE places. We got to Charlotte, NC fine and then it took us FOREVER to get through the traffic. Instead of getting to my brother's around 4:30, it was 5:30. Then we stayed and talked for a little while. My sister-in-law's little boy was so excited to have the Sweet Peas to play with! Those 3 were inseparable!

It was about 2 more hours from my brother's house to the B&B. We were still full from the late lunch so we didn't stop for dinner or anything. The temps got cooler and cooler the higher we went (obviously). It was mainly 4 lane divided highway until several different points in the trip because there just wasn't ROOM for a highway....a drop off on one side and the mountain on the other. It was BEAUTIFUL!!!!

The B&B looks Tudor-style from the outside. The house is from the 1800's. I just LOVED the old look of the inside....Some original wooden floors, walls, pocket doors, stained glass. We ended up with the room I originally wanted (Room 5) with the small balcony. It was a BIG room decorated sort of Victorian-ish....iron bedstead, antique dresser, clawfoot tub in the bathroom (and modern shower stall), more original floors in the bathroom......a snack basket in the room (which we ate when we got there for our dinner), chocolates by the bed, candles on the hearth over the fireplace in our room AND a fireplace in the bathroom.

We rested, and slept late (late for Popeye anyway, my normal time). For breakfast, the innkeeper prepared a fresh fruit cup, egg and cheese casserole (WONDERFUL), cinnamon stuesel muffins and sausage patties, juice and was all GREAT!!!!

We went to Grandfather Mountain. It is the highest peak in the Blue Ridge Mountains. You can't go all the way to the top unless you hike (and we didn't have the right shoes NOR the inclination to hike). We stopped at the highest part that you can drive your car. I believe it is 1 mile above sea level. There is a suspension bridge that you can walk across to another part of the mtn....really neat!!! There are also some animal habitats that you can visit where they have taken in animals that are indiginous to the area. We saw white-tail deer (which we also have tons of those here), otters, black bears, 2 bald eagles....they are HUGE birds; we saw cougars too. There was a mother bear and some bear cubs that they were going to release back into the wild. It was a nice little visit there.

We went back to the B&B and I took a soak in the tub and read for awhile and then we took a nap. We went out to dinner at a local restaurant which is considered the town's "fine dining". After dinner we went back to the B&B.

We read for awhile and got ready for bed for the night...we did watch a little TV together too. Sunday morning we had coffee, juice, bacon, stuffed french was great too!!! It was bread spread with cream cheese, then thin apple slices and apricot preserves (and another piece of bread on top) and they baked it or something but it had the french toast look with the eggs, etc. She also made some bread like zucchini bread but she used cucumbers in it.

Then it was time to head back.....sigh....I was so relaxed and felt like we were gone forever! (which is a good thing I guess since we needed it) We met my brother/SIL and the boys at Applebee's in a town near their house for lunch around 1 pm. Then we went back to their house to have Sweet Pea 2's birthday party...cake/ice cream/presents. It was nice. Then we started our 3.5 hr trek back home.

And guess what????

We booked another room at the same B&B for the weekend of our anniversary in December!!! I can't WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! We will be in Room 1 this time though....we looked at all the rooms and we liked that one next best to try.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Ready for the weekend!!!

I had a major meltdown a few weeks ago. It had been raining for days and days (see my past posts about borrowing an ark) and Sweet Pea 1 and 2 couldn't get outside to get rid of some of their energy. I called Popeye and asked him if he would take me somewhere for a weekend. And that weekend starts TOMORROW!!! I'm so excited. I love my boys with all my heart but I NEED several days without them right now. Arrangements have worked out just right with my brother and his wife keeping the boys (they ADORE their aunt and uncle) and Popeye and I will be off to this Bed and Breakfast. Ahhhhhh!!!!

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The pool....

is on hold....we didn't work on it on Sunday. I was sick on Monday and today. I'll probably try to dig more tomorrow and Thursday. Maybe we'll have it up by next week.

Mandatory Preschool....loosening the bonds

Which Mother's Day Out is your son going to? Oh, don't you need the time away? Which Pre-K plan is your child in?

Here (full article) is what Michael Smith said in the Washington Post.

In the drive to ensure that our children receive the best education, we are in danger of overinstitutionalizing them. A child will develop naturally if the parents give the child what he or she needs most in the formative years -- plenty of love and attention. In this way, the brain can develop freely, and when the child is ready, he or she can begin formal schooling.

The best early-childhood education is in the home. Children's educational, emotional and psychological needs can be provided by their parents in a safe home environment where the children can pursue their own interests without distractions. Then home education could become the natural outworking of the preschool years.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Day 4....pool

Things are looking up with the pool. Popeye was off to Lowes and bought some 12 ft. boards. We are digging a "trench" and laying the board on the skinny 12 ft side then filling it back in with dirt. One board on each side of the "box", then we will nail another on the bottom side of the box. The top side will just be the point from where we started digging. Once the left trench is dug, board laid, trench filled, the rest should be pretty easy....nailing the other board on the end and just filling the "box" with dirt to have our platform (gotta level it though).

I'm still nervous about this pool since we've had such a difficult time with it, but as long as we have no more than a 3 degree slope (according to the directions) everything should be fine.

Wouldn't you know though that rain is in the forecast for all next week???? AND we are going out of town on Friday through Sunday so there will be no swimming for this family for at LEAST another week. :(

Popeye said this will be like that Visa commercial: "Pool, $98; Lumber to make a "box" to support pool $200; Destroyed Deck, $500; Family time together, Priceless".

Feeling good about my choices....

Thanks goes to Mungo for this article about the confirmation of Latin, Greek and Mathematics as core subjects in a student's education, as well as teaching phonics.

Day 3 of the pool....

I'm still digging. :) Good exercise for me if nothing else! LOL Popeye decided that he is going to Lowe's to buy some boards and we are going to build a "box". We have to raise the level of the ground about one foot....sigh. The BAD part is that it is supposed to rain starting Sunday and most of the week, so we HAVE to finish the ground work today....or at least most of it and put the tarp down....I'll report tomorrow.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Day 2 of the pool saga.....

Well, I dropped the kidlets off at Vacation Bible School this morning and came home to dig and dig some more. I decided that I thought we had a better place to put the pool than the origial spot I picked out. I thought it was all nice and level, but guess again!!!! I think we need a cement back yard! I finally called Popeye and told him that I quit and asked him if would help me. He got the line level and we found some string. He showed me how deep we would need to dig to make a level area of dirt for the pool. He and I started digging. Sweet Peas even joined in too. I'm EXHAUSTED after dealing with this pool for 2 days. Popeye is going to look at the area again in the morning before he goes off to work and see what we need to do next. I'll try to get a pic of it when we get it up.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

A Lesson Learned.....

I was trying to take the easy way out. I decided to buy a pool like this for the boys. I was so excited about it but my friend told me how much work it would be to make the ground level....just when you think the ground is level, it isn't!! Our whole backyard is one big slope. So off to Lowe's I go to get play sand to try to build up one area and make it level. Then I had the BRILLIANT idea of putting it on our deck!! I called Popeye to ask if he thought it would be fine to do this and he said yes. Ahhhhh.......this will be EASY now! I swept off the deck, bought a tarp and laid it out to add another measure of protection to the bottom of the pool. I got most of the wrinkles out, started filling it up with water. It was almost full when WHOOOOSH.... there goes part of the deck!!!! It was very scary but I tried to stay calm for the kids. Popeye was home and we were inside talking while the Sweet Peas and their friend from next door were playing in the pool. They got out and it was like a RIVER running down the back and then turning left through the backyard. Guess what I'll be doing in the morning??? Yep, digging and buying more sand to try to make a level place.....sigh.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Quiet this week....can you hear it???

This week the Sweet Peas are at Vacation Bible School in the mornings. I accomplished so much around the house yesterday. Today I spent my morning having my annual, fun! At least I could read.

I finally figure out which "overview" form I want to use in my planning. It is similar to the form that Sonlight uses in their Instructor Guides. I think this will give me a nice overview for each week. I really wanted to see 3 weeks at a time, but I'll see if I can maneuver it to work similarly. All the while I was lookin for the "perfect" form, my MSWord decided to go haywire! That is all fixed now too, so life is good again.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Getting it all together...(planning again)

I'm working on lesson plans this week. The boys will be at Vacation Bible School each morning so that will give me a few hours to work on all this. I've got to pull all these resources together and then fit then into some chart so that I will have a "guide". I've tried many times to create just the PERFECT chart, to not avail. I think I may be just about there though on what will work for me.

Then the next challenge will be to IMPLEMENT all this great curricula. I am just not looking forward to the fight with my boys though because they will want to play with the neighbor child. The live to play with her right now, which drives me CRAZY!!! At least for the next two weeks, their mornings will be taken up with Bible School and Basketball Camp. I also have some afternoon activities and play dates with other children set up for them. The child is a pretty good little girl, but I just don't get the peace that I normally feel when they are playing with some of my friend's children. I think the thing that bugs me the most is that they think that the "world" revolves around her. I'll be VERY glad when she goes back to school in August. The only "bad" thing about that is that we will in full gear with our own school year. I'll manage somehow. I really need this time off from our lessons to get myself geared up again for the new year and excited about it and then I let that "fun" fade away because I'm upset about this child. This too shall pass.

Friday, June 10, 2005


It was another wonderful evening with my homeschool mom friends. We all use different styles of homeschooling (although all bordering on eclectic), but it was so fun. I was once again encouraged to pursue Latin and Greek with a vigor. I was not looking for her or anyone's approval on this, but just in the course of conversation, she was encouraging me because of the good that Latin will do for my children in all areas of their lives. To steal someone else's phrase (a nod to I can't remember who that the moment-sorry) Latin is the "secret spy language of languages". And that alone thrills Sweet Pea 1. Greek is "cool" to him because of the symbols (another spy language). I had decided to put Greek on hold until we had a good handle on Latin, but I believe that we will be able to start that sometime this fall or winter. Even if it is just as simple as teaching Sweet Pea 1 the symbols and the sounds they make--for now.

This reassurance gives me the push I need to keep going in this creates a bigger flame from the spark in my soul.

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Great book finds....

At the library today I was scouring the shelves for some great books. Amongst all the twaddle I found these. I think they may be of value to those looking for something good to read to the children.

They Walk in the Night by Elizabeth Coatsworth

This is a story based upon the continent of Africa...elements of Africa but an Africa of the mind.

A Place Called Freedom by Scott Russell Sanders

This story is about a slave family who was given freedom. Nice drawings in this book.

Grandfather's Journey by Allen Say

Tells the story of a young Japenese man who traveled the world then went back to Japan.

Brother Wolf of Gubbio - a Legend of Saint Francis by Colony Elliott Santangelo


Let me know some of your favorites!!!

Chronic Resistance to Homeschooling....

Do you have a child like this? Is it really the child? MFS on WTM created this GREAT "essay"....makes you think, doesn't it? Maybe you might need this today? I know it served as a great reminder to me.

Chronic resistance to homeschooling... some thoughts

Posted by MFS on WTM boards

Most of the time when things "break bad" here (and they do; not often, but they do), it's more about me than about anyone else. When the work is taking forever to complete, when the quality is less than expected, when enthusiasm has waned, etc., I don't need to look much further than the example I've been setting. Have I been on-task? Have I been doing my job(s) with attention to detail? Have I conveyed my love of the subject and of the family-centered learning project? Or have I been dealing with our accountant in a series of longwinded telephone calls? Spending twenty extra minutes on the treadmill? Checking email or blogging? Planning activities for next week, month, or year when we haven't completed the activities for this week, month, or year? (Actually, I gave up that last bit during year one of this adventure. One of the first hard lessons I learned about home education is that my time is best spent not on elaborate lesson plans (no matter how ingenious, inventive, or inspiring to other hs-ing mothers), thumbing through catalogues, drafting curriculum wishlists, or bouncing from one resource to another but on the simple task of focusing on the moment we're in. It has saved me years of angst and wasted time, talent, and treasure, that lesson has.)

Don't misunderstand. I think that it's important that we parent-educators tend to our needs, but I also think it's critical that we do it on our own time. (For me, that's in the wee, small hours of the morn' or the late evening hours after they head to bed or, sometimes, during the day on "free" days (one benefit of year-round studies).) When I forget this self-mandate (e.g., when I take a call during lesson time or blog while the kids are laboring over math sheets), I send the following mixed message: Leading the family-centered learning project is my first and most important job -- except when I want to do something else. Make that mistake too many times, and it's really no wonder when the youngest dallies over a sheet she previously needed only thirty minutes to complete for three, four times longer than that; no wonder that they're feeling recalcitrant, unmotivated; no wonder our interactions are laced with discontent.

Lest you or someone else click away in anger, note that this is not a criticism of any sort. I don't know how you approach your work. You asked how to reach your daughter's heart, though; I can only tell you how I reach my own children's hearts and minds:

With as much consistency as is MFS-ly possible, I model the behavior and standards I want the kids to maintain.

And I've been doing that since we began this adventure.

By necessity, this means I haven't adopted then abandoned multiple approaches to parenting or learning. It means that I decided on a fairly certain course early on, a course chosen to match my personality and goals well.

And I've stuck with it.

There is an unmistakable rhythm to our days, a dance of daily routines and rituals that guide this family's life, and everyone, from the generally happy-no-matter-what youngest to the uber-sensitive-artist-type middle to the man-boy oldest sways to the silent music

...because it has been playing since they they arrived.

Sure, there's spontaneity. And fun. Lots of it. Surprise. Humor. Laughter. But that's the harmony. The melody is one of clearly stated goals and plenty of examples of how to achieve them.

We parent-educators love to point out that the benefit of homeschooling is that we can tailor the curriculum and our approach to our students' needs. As I wrote in "Be a sun," I suspect there is a point at which this becomes too much of a good thing. Clearly, when an elementary school student fails to understand that his or her job is to learn and study and grow (and to do so without a big fuss), he or she needs less "heart talk" and more "hard talk" -- mixed with a healthy dose of the teacher modeling the same level of commitment to task.

What is "hard talk"? Well, I can tell you that there's little secular prayer involved. (*wry grin*) It might look something like this: Quite simply, education is the law here; as in, parents must provide their children with an education. If my child isn't learning (barring some sort of organic issue), we are not complying with the law. If I am doing my part (check), that leaves you, the child. You must do your part. In this house, that means that the following activities must be completed on a daily (weekly, monthly, annual) basis. Until we're in compliance, we will skip the following activities: [insert favorite programs, extracurriculars here].

I'm going to circle back to my original premise: It all begins with the parent-educator. Anger and sadness are one response to a recalcitrant student. Humor is another approach. But, in the end, unwavering purposefulness may be the best choice, and that's hard to achieve if we haven't done the hard work of laying out our own courses. As I said, this is not a criticism but an observation based on my teaching and parenting experiences: Things work best when I work best.

Monday, June 06, 2005

Where do these kids come from???

Well, today was not a good day. It was fine as far as our summer school schedule goes. But I can sure tell that the child Sweet Pea 1&2 were hanging out with today leaves MUCH to be desired. I think he may have to be "busy" or I'll take them to the park ALL day or SOMETHING when she is here visiting her dad. Words that Sweet Pea 1 thought were innocent have now become words that some people use as "bad" words. It just breaks my heart. I'm just going to have to find something to do away from the house when she is here....luckily, she doesn't come that often because of dad's weird work schedule. And I'm sure the big kids down the block that come into our street to play have said this word too. I remember hearing them one time....I'll just have to bring the boys in when those guys are out there....sigh.

Things are shaping up for our next school year to start officially in a few weeks. But before then Popeye and I are going to take a romantic getaway for a weekend in North Carolina. I can't wait!!! I gotta get my planning finished for the next year before we go, so that will be my goal for the next two weeks. We are going to try a year round 3 weeks on, 1 week off schedule.....just keep the learning going and going and going and going.

Friday, June 03, 2005

These are the cutest books......

I just had to tell you about them. A fellow blogger posted about these and I couldn't resist. I had to buy them.....all FOUR in the series!

A friend of mine told me about these books so I checked them out at the library. Such a different way to talk about different math topics.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

I "borrowed" this....

from Mungo's site....or whatever the internet terminology is from taking something from someone else's blog.

The Value of Learning History

Some powerful stuff here!

The skies are clearing.....

in more ways than one. I saw the sun peek out a few minutes ago. I think our flood may soon be ending. :) Scattered showers in the forecast today. At least the boys can get out and run for awhile.

And the skies are clearing in relation to the Greeks and Ancient myths. I need to do more praying and talking to Popeye but I do feel much better since I have received some comments about it. I am REALLY feeling the lack of education on my part coming through when it comes to this. Did you know (thanks, Mungo) that no matter which educational philosophy you follow in homeschooling OR in public schools that the Ancient writings help to understand literature and art? Where was I? I guess I was there, but it was never explained to me. I never understood literature! I vaguely remember reading some Greek myths and doing the required "comprehension questions". But I didn't learn how it all fit together. And in college? Those memories are so fuzzy I have no idea WHAT I learned. Except for reading The Great Gatsby and I couldn't tell you what that was about either!

Anyhoo, I think I have a handle on this now.....or I'm beginning to.

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Does anyone have an ark I can borrow???

This weather is driving me crazy!!! No more rain!!! And God promised not to flood the earth again....sigh. Yes, He always keeps his promises, but it sure feels like flood. The kids are going stircrazy and I'm being VERY one is happy in this house right now....except Popeye, but he is off in his closet at work.

Greek myths....and being Christians....

Can these two really mix? Are my boys at their young ages really ready to hear about "Mother Earth" or the "Lord of the Universe"? Am I missing something here? I mean listen to this: "Uranus became the Lord of the Universe by daring to obey his mother and taking a sickle to his father, Uranus." What do I say to my boys? This is what the Greek people believed way back when? What good are they supposed to get out of this? I've been really wrestling with this....maybe some of you can give me some insights. We are Christians and I just don't see how reading this will help my children educationally OR eternally.

Poppins? Mungo? Comments?