Sunday, September 21, 2008

Van Gogh- Our New Artist

We have been studying Mary Cassatt's life and work for the summer and into the school year. We have so enjoyed her life story, especially of her time in Paris, and her friendship with Edgar Degas. As the mom, and the one who was planning the study, I especially enjoyed the novel "Lydia Cassatt Reading the Morning Paper" by Harriet Scott Chessman. It provided an enjoyable read with some good information by a well-researched author about the life that Mary and her family enjoyed in Paris during her painting years and Lydia's illness. The children can recognize and name several of Mary's paintings and are looking forward to seeing some of them someday when we visit their cousins in Washington D.C. and visit the National Gallery of Art.

But, now we are moving on in our art studies and have chosen Van Gogh. We enjoyed some of his paintings while in London when we often visited the National Gallery of London. Here are some of the books that I checked out at the library today in preparation for our study:

*My Brother, Vincent Van Gogh
*Vincent Van Gogh, Modern Artist
*Vincent Van Gogh: Portrait of an Artist
*Vincent's Colors
*Visiting Vincent Van Gogh
*What Makes a Van Gogh a Van Gogh?
*The Yellow House: Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gaugin Side by Side

I am definitely considering how I can gently explain Van Gogh's death if necessary. But mostly, I want to share the wonderful art of amazing artist with my children. Starry Night is my favorite painting of all time and I am hoping that one of my children might love it as much as me!

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LOVE This Quote

"Don't become a stranger to your child's soul." -Abraham Joshua Heschel

Day in the Life of Our Homeschool

Here's a peek into our typical day:

Wake up and do morning routines. This includes bed-making, teeth-brushing, getting dressed and tidying up bedrooms for the children. I assist the youngest with all of the above.

Breakfast. Since Daddy is working remotely from home for the next few weeks until his job is finished, he surprised us with chocolate chip pancakes this morning. When mommy is in charge, much easier fare is prepared!

Next, we do our circle time, which includes going over Bible memory work (Psalm 23 from NIRV, right now), "Windows to the World" for geography (today was Bangladesh) and prayer, reading from "The Story for Kids", and working on patterns. We've been doing a fun thing, where the kids think up patterns to make by clapping, patting, etc. and then we create the pattern using pattern blocks to represent the A,B,C, etc. parts.

Next, individual work begins with the children. While I am working with one child, the others are working independently. (Ideally, of course!). Today, the oldest had to narrate from "Henry and Ribsy". I had him narrate all the chapters from memory and was very impressed with what he had retained, including some interesting phrases and whole portions of dialogue. He also had piano practice and lesson. He worked in his Horizons math book, and worked in his writing journal detailing his football practice last night.

Daughter worked on patterns with pattern blocks, and upper and lower case letters. She and I worked on her scrapbook where she narrated the text to me from the pictures. We played a game with the white board where she had to guess what letter I was making before I finished making it. Then, to keep score, we used tally marks and learned about those. Because it was her first time using tally marks, we talked about and practiced (lots!) counting by 5's. Then, she wanted to go play outside. She is my dig-in-the-dirt girl! She came in with two worms, so then she and I looked up worms in the "Handbook of Nature Study" -- not much there for her, but I will use the questions to formulate some little mini lessons and observation-type projects as we watch the worms. We talked about the importance of only keeping the worms for a short time and then releasing them back into their natural habitat.

The littlest, who is normally with us, was having a playdate with a neighbor. We normally do all the preschool type things with her. Painting and playdough are favorites. And she loves to be read to!

Usually, it's around lunch by this time, so we take a break for that. Then, it's outside for play/nature study. After that, we all do a house project for the next hour or so before rest time. Today we are making cookies for a new neighbor and working in the upstairs bedrooms. All of the children still take a rest each day. The oldest often read or play quietly, while the youngest still naps. This is time for mommy to regroup!

After rest time, there is usually snack and more outside play until supper. On Tuesdays, though, we have "Tuesday Teatime" where we do art study and poetry and manners. We are getting ready to study a new artist after spending several months with Mary Cassatt. We have so enjoyed her art! We'll be moving on to Van Gogh next week. Often, our poetry comes from Favorite Poems Old and New. Our favorite manners game is from EBoo and they are funny flash cards with pigs using nice manners. A book we use for manners is "Everyday Graces" by Karen Santorum. It is a truly beautiful book that we will use for years to come!

That's the short version of a day in the life of our very busy little homeschool!

Monday, September 8, 2008

New DL Article

Our new DiVine Lines women's newsletter is up from our church. Read below for my latest column. Oh, and be sure to check out these links for other wonderful articles.

"Hide and Seek"

Children love to play hide and seek. There’s something about the thrill of hiding and wondering whether or not you will be found. There’s something about being the
seeker and hoping to find the treasure behind the next door. I love to watch my own children play hide and seek. As toddlers, they used to hide and then immediately
call out, “Here I am!” because they really wanted to be found. When they got a bit bigger, they would hide in the most conspicuous places, thinking of course that they were really well hidden, and finding to their great disappointment that they were not. Lately, my son has invented a game called “Hide and Sneak” where it’s encouraged to sneak around and find different places to hide even as you are being sought.

I thought about the simple game of hide and seek recently as I was studying what the
Bible says about seeking God. Psalm 9:10 tells us that, “Those who know your name will trust in you, for you, Lord, have never forsaken those who seek you.” Jeremiah 29:13 promises, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Isn’t that amazing? While our human tendency is to hide from God just like Adam and Eve, God’s holy desire is to be found.

But who are those who find the Lord? Those who know God’s name and seek Him with all their hearts. What? Doesn’t God have one name… namely, well…God? Well, yes and no. The One True God revealed His character through many different “names” in the Old Testament. Names like El Shaddai (God Almighty), Jehovah Shammah (The Lord is There), and El Roi (The God Who Sees) are a few examples of ways in which God revealed Himself to people in certain circumstances to show who He was in their specific situation or trial. Through understanding more about God’s names, we can know more about his character and begin to understand what it means to truly seek Him.

Those who “find” God are also, according to scripture, those who seek Him with all their hearts. Recently, while reading Isaiah 31:1, I was struck by the ways in which human nature has not changed since the beginning of time. Isaiah writes, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the LORD.” As I read those verses, I was impressed
with deep conviction in my own heart. How often do I trust in my flesh even though I am enslaved by it (go down to Egypt for help), find a way of escape to sooth my flesh (rely on horses- a way of escape), trust in power, prestige, or material goods (trust in chariots – the symbol of military prestige and power at that time), and finally, rely on people to solve my problems or dispense advice (trust in the strength of horsemen – who are mere people)? It seems that those to whom Isaiah was writing at the time are no different than me. Human nature is not to seek God, but first to seek other things. That is why so many of the Psalmists remind themselves and the Israelites to seek God. It’s not what humans naturally want to do! But it is the only way to true life and peace.

Throughout the next few months in this column,I’d like to explore with you some of these “names” of God and how knowing them can help us to seek Him diligently and trust Him more. My prayer is that we would all become women who seek God with all of our hearts and not trust in anything or anyone else! Knowing God in this way will increase our trust and will remind us that in Him we will never be forsaken. Won’t you join me for a little game of “Find and Seek”?