December 31, 2005

Happy New Year 2006!

Today we took a drive out into the countryside to just spend some time in nature. We like to take leisurely drives and we do it pretty regularly. Both DH and I love to look outside and just watch the cars pass by, look at the houses alongside the road, and stop off for a quick hike or to sit and eat lunch. There is always something interesting to see and getting out in the fresh air is always refreshing.

Our drive today took us up to Barlett Lake (about 45 minutes from home). It was a lovely day, a bit cool and somewhat cloudy. The sun peeked in and out of the clouds and cast shadows on the nearby hillsides. We ate lunch first and then headed out. We hiked by the lake, took a side trip over to Horseshoe lake to watch all the people fish for catfish, and then just settled in at the beach and relaxed.

Our objective today was to spend some time in nature and think about our goals for 2006. It is amazing how quickly this year has zoomed by. It seems like just yesterday we were enjoying summer and then before we knew it, the holidays were upon us. I know that time marches on and that it is constant but it does seem to move faster at certain times of the year.

Well, while DH and DS played by the lake, I sat and took some photos of them. I marvelled at how tall my son is getting. He is nearly as tall as his mother and is growing like a weed. He is handsome (ok, so I am his mom) and is turning into a real 'looker' so says his grandmother. He is a joy to both is dad and me and we love the time we spend together.

Looking at him playing by the lake and throwing rocks into the water (don't all boys do this?), I started thinking about my goals for our school next term and what I would like to see us accomplish. We are on target with our curriculum and will finish most everything by mid-May. I guess one of the things that I really would like to see us do this term is to dive a bit deeper into some of our studies. We read a lot of books and while we do read them slowly and purposefully, we don't always take the time to think about them each week. I also would like for us to study art and music history more closely. Our curriculum, Ambleside Online, provides an artist and composer to study each term. We usually just do a quick study and then move on. I would really like to spend some time studying the particular movements and the artists who developed out of them. But I guess most importantly, I just would like to see my son continue to blossom and bloom, right where he is planted. God has blessed him with natural gifts and homeschooling has been a wonderful process for us both. I want to see him continue to be challenged, continue to grow and develop, and to continue to exercise his brain in ways that are new and exciting to him.

Our drive ended about an hour ago and we all settled back into our routine. I am on my computer, blogging; DH is on his checking mail; and DS is on the work machine, reading his email from cousins.

Happy New Year to you and yours...I wish you all a wonderfully and mightly successful year...doing whatever you do!

December 27, 2005

Oh, How Nice...Or Did You Say Mice?

Mice. Two of them. Blackie and Stripe.

Yes, my DS asked for mice for Christmas. He has wanted a pet of his very own and has asked for cats, kittens, puppies, dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, tarantulas, snakes, and just about anything in between. So far we have held out. We have one cat, a very old one, that lives with us. We have one adopted feral cat that lives out doors. Our second adopted kitty, Caesar, passed away from an upper respiatory infection this summer. It is no wonder why DS wants his own pet. I mean, he is 12, and in the past couple of years, has witnessed the passing of all our beloved housemates, save one (Zachary, soon to be 16 years old).

DH and I discussed our options and decided that mice were a good option. Needing to be considerate of the King and keeping his domain in tact, bringing a larger animal into our home just didn't seem right. Mice are small. They are unobtrusive and if we are lucky, will not even be noticed by Z.

We spent several trips to Petco looking at all the mice and rats. I am partial to rats -- not sure why -- but I know they are keenly intelligent and very friendly. I like them, I like that they can be trained. I like that they live 5 years. But a rat needs a large cage and our goal here is to unobtrusive. Mice are better.

DS recieved a cage and supplies for Christmas and the day after, took his Petco card to the store to buy his mice. He chose one black female and one brown/white striped female. We brought them home and set them up in their new home in his bedroom. Well, wouldn't you guess it but Stripe (can you tell which one??) turned out to be quite the little escape artist. She took 3 tries and then was finally able to flatten her little body and push her way through the cage and outside of it.

Mom left DS at home manning the cage and headed back to Petco to purchase a 10-gallon tank. Once home, Stripe and Blackie, were moved into their second home. Much safer for me and much safer for them.

I have to admit...these little gals are really cute. They are very friendly and now let us pick them up (they actually come to our hands on their own). I really like to watch them - they just never stop working, digging, or burrowing. They are very clean and neat and just are so adorable. DS loves them and has gotten used to the wheel squeaking every night. The water bottle clacks - still need to figure out how to keep that from happening. Overall, we are very happy with our newest little pets.

December 22, 2005

G.K. Chesterson...

is on my reading list this month. I have wanted to read something literary and apologetic so I downloaded Chesterson's "Orthodoxy" from the Christian Ethereal Classics Library. I should have downloaded and read "Heretics" first, but didn't read the intro closely enough. Anyway, I have downloaded the first and will read it next (oh well).

Other books on my list include Chesterson's "What's Wrong with the World" as well as one or two of his Father Brown stories. I also hope to get to Lewis' "Mere Christianity" as well as a couple of Spurgeon's sermons.

What's on your reading list?

December 6, 2005

Reading...

I don't know how many times I have been asked this question since we began our homeschooling journey a little over 2 years ago. Maybe a dozen times, maybe more. It seems like it is the type of question that usually follows our brief introduction (aka...that we homeschool and what type of curriculum we use) whenever we meet someone new.

It is hard to explain exactly what we do all day long as our school curriculum really doesn't fit a 'tradition' approach or method. I have written openly many times and shared that we school using "Charlotte Mason's methods." For most people, they usually ask..."Charlotte who?" Some homeschoolers, however, are familiar with her methods and as such will often simply say "Oh!" Our homeschool is an eccletic mix of things, as is our life. Our home is warm and friendly (or so I have been told) and on most days is quite messy (not of my choosing though I will admit that housecleaning is not my area of giftedness.) I try to keep things orderly and neat so to give the 'impression' that our home is neat and tidy and always in order. The truth is that we work at home, school at home, and generally live a messy life...at home. Our office is a large room, converted from a carport into a home-based office for my dh's business. It measures roughly 400 SQ ft and we are truly blessed to have the extra space (we live in a 1000 SQ ft home). We have made the sacrifice and have given up a garage with oodles of storage space for an office. My dh loves it, I love it and our son loves it. It is nice to be able to work at home and walk from the kitchen into the office and begin our day.

Our office/school room/work room is messy to say the least. DH is a paper collector and has magazines and books, all meant to be read shortly, scattered about. It does remind me of an English country home (though not in styling) where there are piles of papers and books and magazines and other things stacked in piles and piles and piles. When we clean the office, we straighten our piles and move them about a bit. They always looks so nice and neat -- until we want to read something and then we start the scattered look all over again.

Our school day begins here in the office, with bookshelves overflowing, filing cabinets covered in magnets and other treasures, with the cd player playing soothing music, and the computers and laser printer softly humming. It is a nice way to start the day and I enjoy it. I like living in my little home, with not so neat kitchen and bathrooms, with all our books and magazines, and our way of doing things.

I know that this blog post was about reading and somehow I got off track and started to write about our homeschool/office...well, I guess that is the cool thing about blogging. You start with one thought and before you know it you are over on another path completely.

My point about reading is simply that we are a family of readers and we like our life a lot. I don't want to make it sound like that is all we do but in reality it is a big part of our day. My dh reads newspapers from around the world, I read articles on the internet for business and pleasure, and ds reads just about anything on the computer (and his school books). We like to read and we read a lot of different types of books, newspapers, articles, magazines, and other interesting things. Reading is the key to learning and I feel sorry for people who cannot read (because they never learned) and for those who choose not to read (because it is boring or not fast enough). Reading is a dying art and I am glad that in our little corner of the world, it is alive and well and that we have made it our daily habit.