yarn along

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This past weekend we went to a lake house a couple of hours away.  I thought I would get more knitting done than I did (as all knitters think when they go out of town).  I did make a bit more progress on my nordiska and it’ll be ready to wear as soon as the weather starts to require it.  After months and months of hibernating, my marley shawl project did get some attention.  Suddenly I’m re-inspired to work on it.  It is really quite far along and with a few weeks of devotion I know I would have it off my needles.  It’s one I love knitting but also really can’t wait to wear.  Brioche is both relaxing and easy but also requires some light focus and attention.

The kiddos and I were reading from Parables from Nature this morning and I so enjoy this book, as do they.  Not only do we learn more about some facet of nature (this morning, honeybees) but also the stories are so rich and full of meaning while being highly engaging.  We are always left with so much to think on and discuss.  I’m still reading Beauty for Truth’s Sake and will be for some time as it is a really slow/chewing sort of read for me.

Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On.

mountain farm museum

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Maybe they were some of the last hot days of 2019, and if so, thank goodness!  As we left the campground the other weekend, we stopped by the Oconoluftee Mountain Farm Museum down the road eager to explore the little old homestead.  The historic log farm buildings were moved to this sweet valley tucked beside the Oconoluftee River in 1950, and it was neat to peek inside this old home built from chestnut wood before the chestnut blight hit our mountains in the early 1930s and 40s.  I found the home to be quite charming and marveled at how much of that lifestyle from over 100 years ago now appeals to me (and many of you too, I would guess).  It would be a beautiful little spot for a real homestead.  The children enjoyed running free and seeing the free-range chickens and the smelly old sow in her picket enclosure by the river.  And of course, the elk again with the sweet fawns, so close to our car.

Afterward we had planned to begin the drive home but the kids begged and pleaded for us to let them swim in the river again before we left.  It’s truly a beautiful river so we let them swim one last time before heading home.  It was a really sweet, fun weekend (even though camping with kiddos is a ton of prep and work!) and a good way to make the best of these last warm summer days.

yarn along

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I’ve mainly been focusing on my nordiska sweater this week.  I added a bit of length to the body to make it not quite so cropped and then the color work section flew by.  It’s just so fun. I tried it on last night because now I’m trying to decide if I add length to the sleeves also so that the color work on the sleeves hits at the right spot in proportion to the body.  But now I’m wondering if I have enough yarn because I can’t remember if I factored in added length when I purchased the main color yarn.  Oh well, I’m adding just a little extra length to the sleeves and then I’ll start the color work there as well.  Hoping it moves just as quickly and I’ll have a finished sweater soon!

My attention and thoughts are starting to shift toward birthday sweaters for the kids.  I wasn’t planning to knit one for Philippa this year because of all of my children, she seems to like wearing hand knit sweaters the least.  Last year she refused to try on her birthday sweater and never really wanted to wear it unless I asked her to.  I honestly don’t buy them many warm upper layers because their hand knit sweaters are supposed to serve that purpose.  But she is making requests for one and assuring me that she really wants to wear my sweaters now.  So, we’ll see.  She mostly just loves when I knit her socks.  Anyway, I know I need to get started on sweaters soon if I plan to knit one for each child since they’re getting bigger and their sweaters are taking longer.  I’m thinking of doing a color work one for Phoebe for sure but then maybe all of them would love a little color work this time around.

I’m slowly reading along in Beauty For Truth’s Sake.  So rich but also heady for my little tired mom brain at bed time.  It is really blowing my mind to learn and also remember that math is at the core of so many things, music, art, how interconnected it all is.  I am reading Mathematicians are People, Too to the kids during morning time, just a chapter here and there.  It’s part of my covert plan to change the dynamics and atmosphere around math here in our house.  I think it may be working because Phoebe hated the book initially just because it had something to do with math, but she loves stories and as we are reading the interesting life stories of real and famous mathematicians, she now begs me to keep reading it.

Here’s a little excerpt from Beauty for Truth’s Sake:

“The purpose of an education is not merely to communicate information, let alone current scientific opinion, nor to train future workers and managers.  It is to teach the ability to think, discriminate, speak, and write, and, along with this, the ability to perceive the inner, connecting principles, the intrinsic reasons, the logoi, of creation, which the ancient Christian Pythagorean tradition (right through the medieval period) understood in terms of number and cosmic harmony…”

And another:

“Mathematics is the language of science, but it is also the hidden structure behind art (the philosopher Leibnitz famously described music as the pleasure the human mind experiences from counting without being aware that it is counting), and its basis is the invisible Logos of God.  We do not have to follow the ancient symbolic reading of mathematics slavishly, but only be open to the presence of meaning where the modern mind sees none.  Then it may be that we will open up a lost dimension in which the disciplines themselves will discover their relationship to one another.”

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.
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maiden voyage

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About a year ago, a very kind neighbor of ours gave us their pop-up camper.  It has since been an eyesore in our backyard for lack of a better place to store it.  We’ve set it up a few times in the yard, but it took us this long to finally take it out on it’s maiden voyage.  It is pretty old but they kept it in mint condition and made many happy family memories in it and they wanted us to be able to do the same now that their kids are well out of the home.  Isn’t that so generous of them?

We went to a beautiful campground that is close to Cherokee, NC with my brother and sister-in-law and their daughter.  It was their first time camping as a family so it was a maiden voyage for them, also, I suppose.  The weather was beautiful, there were no bugs pestering us and there was a good breeze.  The daytime was warm and sunny, the evenings and mornings were cool enough to be cozy.  We enjoyed all the things that make camping special — strong coffee, food that tastes better cooked out in the open air, hanging out around the campfire, hiking, swimming in the river, s’mores, and good conversation.  Phoebe made a sweet little friend named Holly which worked out well because she had hoped to have someone her age to play with.  We also enjoyed watching the elk nearby, and I loved hearing them bugling in a field just a short drive down the road from the campground.  So neat to be able to share that with the kids and see their wonder and excitement to be so close to such majestic animals!  (They were really close at times, right up near the edge of the road).  We also had some rowdy campground neighbors who kept us up late into the night, but we paid them back with early morning screaming babies.  Good sleep is not something you can typically expect while camping, but it is truly all worth it.  Coming home tired and smelling like equal parts sweat and campfire is all part of the experience and we truly loved it.  It was a treat to have some extended time family, and I could really see Brandon unwind, too.  The pop-up is pretty fun but I don’t mind tent camping at all either.  We didn’t get to use too many of it’s fanciest features (we didn’t hook up to electricity or water) but it is fun to dream about taking it on a longer voyage one day.

(I’ll share a few more photos from camping in another post, this one seemed long enough.)

yarn along

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We went camping over the weekend and I knew I would need a simple project to work on in the dark around a campfire and while chatting with family who we would be camping with.  So I set my nordiska aside again since I’m nearing the start of color work, and cast on a pair of these socks.  The colors remind me of fall.  There is something so simple and grounding for me about knitting socks.  I enjoy knitting anything really, but I do like to always have a pair of socks on the needles to have while out and about.  As much as I prefer vanilla sock knitting because they are so speedy and comforting, the pattern of this sock is so pretty and I think they will fit so nicely.  They will be a gift.

I didn’t make much headway in Beauty for Truth’s Sake in the past week.  The children and I have been really enjoying reading Paddle to the Sea slowly, they beg me to read just another page.

Joining with Nicole’s weekly Crafting On.

yarn along

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September days are upon us, earliest foliage beginning to change.  The garden is tired, the days are shortening ever so slightly, the mornings are beginning to cool.  I separated for sleeves on my nordiska sweater and just need to try it on for length soon before starting the color work portion that goes along the bottom.  I’m still torn about the colors I’ve chosen for the color work so we’ll see.

I finished The Brave Learner and am now reading Beauty for Truth’s Sake.  This is one I am curious about and interested in for sure but also am disciplining myself to read to continue my own learning.  I think in particular the author’s emphasis on the beauty and order in mathematics will be necessary for me as I try to ignite my own sense of wonder and curiosity so that I can hopefully do the same for my little learners.

Joining with Nicole’s Crafting On and Ginny’s Yarn Along.

 

another school year begins

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I have been trying to get this post up for two weeks now but we have been busy getting our “school legs” back under us again, and also I’ve not been feeling well with full-body hives all over since Tuesday morning of this week (honestly made me feel really strange).  So, here I am with a post at long last, and a good long one for you today, too!

We are wrapping up our second week of school today, and it has been good to back in this rhythm, finding our way once again through what always feels a bit like new and unfamiliar territory.  This is our fourth year homeschooling.  Phoebe is in 3rd grade, Noah is is 1st.  I’m not doing any formal schooling with Philippa or Wren, although Philippa is participating for the first time in our weekly co-op (Classical Conversations) in her own class so she is getting some instruction here and there.  However, there’s no real pressure or expectation on her yet.  She’s only 4 years old and I’ve always erred on starting my children later than earlier, longing to give them as long of a childhood as possible to explore and wonder without busying up their day with book work.  Philippa can join in and do whatever work she finds interesting but when she tires of it she happily trots off with Wren.  I see a new little bond forming between the two younger girls as they begin to have longer morning stretches playing together while the older two are engaged in work.

Every year this endeavor becomes both more comfortable and more daunting.  Children grow and change, their needs, weaknesses, and strengths fluctuate and we keep a close eye on where help is most needed.  While I gain more understanding of my little learners and myself as a teacher, there are always new wrenches thrown into our best laid plans and the home dynamic changes as the littles grow and interrupt in different ways.  I understand now why older more seasoned homeschool mommas told me at the outset 4 years ago that I would need to be prepared to be more tired than I ever imagined.  I can feel that now and we aren’t still that far along.  Truly, this is such a monumental task.  Teaching to multiple ages, keeping a close eye on their progress, adjusting as needed, juggling the work of being both their mother and teacher–it truly is far harder than I imagined.  I am learning so much about myself, and also my understanding of “education” is really shifting and morphing, coming from a traditional public school background.  I studied Outdoor Education in college, which falls under the umbrella of experiential education.  I fell in love with that major because I found it to be so effective, teaching and learning experientially.  I am thankful for that background which helps just ever so slightly as we find our way along this arduous journey.  I never imagined giving so much of my life and mental energy to this work, but I do truly love it, even despite the many days and moments where I feel totally overwhelmed and under qualified.  I don’t know where this journey will lead us, but I feel confident we are in the right place.

And so we embark on another year.  Even as a child, I loved the beginning of a new school year, the fresh supplies, the excitement about growing older and discovering new things.  I try to fill our children’s hearts with that same eagerness, purchasing some fresh supplies, filling our morning basket with new books, showing each of them what they’ll be tackling this year and asking them what they hope to learn as well.  I love dreaming up a few field trips or ways to bring learning to life.  I love surprising and delighting them.

Occasionally I get questions about what curriculums we use and I always hesitate to answer because I guess I feel inadequate in a lot of ways and it feels vulnerable to open our little humble home school to others opinions.  I also feel like there’s a lot of temptation for us mommas to compare ourselves to one another and measure ourselves against one another, which is never the goal.  However, if those specifics can be helpful to someone, then I’m happy to share.  I’m still learning and fumbling my way through this in so many ways, and nothing is done perfectly.  We have many frustrating moments, and there are tears and arguments had by all.  Such is the nature of being together 100% of our time.

I have always used The Well-Trained Mind by Susan Wise Bauer as the backbone for our curriculum choices.  We have also always done one day a week with our classical community (Classical Conversations) which takes a bit of pressure off as they provide basically everything except language arts and math.  I love the emphasis on memory work through music and am always amazed at my children’s capacity to memorize huge amounts of information.  They always astound me!  This year I am beginning to do more Ambleside Online readings as I’ve always been drawn to move fully in that direction.  Charlotte Mason’s philosophy has resonated with more than any other approach I’ve encountered.  Some other books that have been instrumental in shaping our home school have been For the Children’s Sake by Susan Schaeffer MacAulay, Mother Culture by Karen Andreola, Charlotte Mason Companion by Karen Andreola, The Brave Learner by Julie Bogart, Teaching From Rest by Sarah Mackenzie, The Hidden Art of Homemaking by Edith Schaeffer, Mere Motherhood by Cindy Rollins, and Home Education by Charlotte Mason.  There are many I’m forgetting, I’m sure, but these have been so helpful and memorable.

Last year was such a challenge with our mornings being interrupted with a baby who needed mid-morning nursing and nap time and who was frequently up in the night, leaving me very groggy and slow to get up in the mornings.  It felt like we weren’t getting into a good groove until 10 am.  This year I am enforcing a stricter schedule for our morning and it’s been making a huge difference.  I am getting up far earlier to ensure that I have time to enjoy coffee, the scriptures and some knitting before our day begins.  Phoebe begins promptly at 8 am with math, which is her most challenging subject and it is her preference to tackle it first rather than dread it.  (My aim this year is to recapture her wonder and love for math, if at all possible.)  By about 8:30 am Noah begins and I bounce around between them both doing hand writing, copywork, grammar, spelling, reading, and math until about 10am.  Then we break for snack and morning time — scripture reading, hymn singing, catechism memory work, poetry, ambleside readings, or whatever else strikes our fancy.  Then we get back to work wrapping up whatever we can until 11:30 am.  If the weather allows we head out for a walk.  By noonish we are having lunch, some read aloud time, naps, and then everyone has a quiet time from about 1-3pm.  This break allows them to read or play, while the little girls sleep.  During this time I usually catch up on housework, workout, rest/knit, or work on this blog!  If we still have work in the afternoon (usually history, science, nature journaling, or art), we will finish that up between 3-4pm.  Then they are free for the remainder of the day and usually encouraged to spend the rest of the afternoon outside.  As the warm days give way to cooler temps they will enjoy being outside for longer stretches.  Of course we still do some read-aloud or game time in the evenings before bed and we finish our day off with scripture and prayer once again.  I try to allow for at least one day a week that we do lighter work in order to be able to get out for a fun outing or hike.  I’m also trying to fit in a few more extracurriculars, like music lessons and sports.  Anyway, that’s a loose picture of what we are attempting this year and so far it is working more smoothly.

I finally named our school this year after deliberating over it for, well, the past few years.  A name that we will carry with us throughout the years feels important and shaping somehow.  So, I have named it Scattered Beams Academy after a very favorite quote of mine from Jonathan Edwards:

“The enjoyment of God is the only happiness with which our souls can be satisfied.  To go to heaven, fully to enjoy God, is infinitely better than the most pleasant accommodations here.  Fathers and mothers, husbands, wives, or children, or the company of earthly friends are but shadows; but God is the substance.  These are but scattered beams, but God is the sun.  These are but streams.  But God is the ocean.”

And these words by Matt Papa in his book Love and Live reflecting on this quote:

“The creation is ‘scattered beams’–God’s artwork, full of glory and dignity.  But Christianity is not secularism–we do not run to the world.  We don’t feast upon the world for its own sake, because these are just ‘scattered beams.’  They are not the sun, and thereby they are unable to bear the full weight of our worship and interest.  To be a Christian means we don’t from the world, and we don’t look to the world.  To be a Christian means we look through the world.  Idolatry looks at the world in amazement.  Worship, true worship, looks through it in amazement.  To its source.  To the One who is infinitely more amazing.  More interesting.  These things God has made–these shadows, these scattered beams, these shallow streams–are good.  And God is better.”

Romans 1:20 tells us that God has revealed his invisible nature and eternal qualities in everything that He has made, so we can look at every subject as a scattered beam that points us back up to the source, the brilliant Sun which we cannot gaze on directly but by which all things are visible, beautiful, enriched, alive.  Every creature and every subject of study has value and finds its place in the kingdom of God, revealing His nature, His beauty, His order, His brilliance, His delight, His creativity.  I could go on. 😉  It is our aim to see everything through that lens and find Him in everything.  (Hello, name of my blog..)

So that’s a little bit about us, four years in.  To everyone else who is beginning a new year, whether homeschool or public, private or some combo in between, may we do that work before us (of shepherding our child’s hearts and minds) with diligence, with curiosity, with fresh eyes and faith, with joy and dependence on the one who breathes the energy and ingenuity into our sails daily.  And to the students, which is hopefully all of us in one degree or another, let us keep an open learning mind!  Know that I’m cheering you on from here, dear ones!