Thursday, February 11, 2016

An Update

Here is what has been happening lately in my neck of the woods.

In January David and I hiked or snowshoed a total of 30.29 miles. So far in the first 10 days of February we have hiked or snowshoed 13.62 miles. We are in love with getting outside and breathing the fresh cold air. We much prefer the snowshoeing to the hiking, but when time or lack of decent snow or weather dictates a walk on the streets, we have taken that option. We challenged ourselves to walk between 5 and 6 days each week. So far we have been able to meet that challenge and are rewarding ourselves with a little overnight get away to a nearby Bed and Breakfast. We chose one near a favorite state park where we can go snowshoeing.

Our oldest two daughters have entered the dating world. Both are dating "nice Lutheran boys" but who live three states away. Interesting to note that these two boys are best friends, live in the same state, but not the same town. The world of the internet is small and there is lots of chatting and texting and Skype conversations going on amongst them. Our oldest has a long weekend and will take the opportunity to hit the road for a visit with her beau and his family. A plus is that she is able to take her Grandpa for a visit to his son and family who live right on the way, and we don't have to worry about her making the nine hour trip alone.

The other three kids are chugging along with their schoolwork, instrument practicing, and doing all they can to convince us to watch movies each night and sleep late each morning. Sometimes we let them. Nathan and Sam are currently in swim lessons. Nathan's are geared for passing the Lifeguard test. His summer job is now needing certified Lifeguards and he has his eyes set upon earning that title. We thought lessons designed towards making sure he can pass is a good thing. Sam's lessons are so he can finally learn the strokes. Being the youngest, he often gets the short end of the stick, and swim lessons is one I never followed through on with him. Fortunately private swim lessons aren't too expensive, therefore we can correct our error and Sam can be a more confident swimmer come summertime pool fun.

Abby moved up into the full youth orchestra this semester and is enjoying the challenge. I am enjoying hearing her practice her piano pieces which includes the "Dawn" by Dario Marianelli which is the theme song to Pride and Prejudice (the Keira Knightley movie). It makes me want to watch the movie again and again and again. She is also now learning Latin from Hannah. Her father just doesn't have the time and it kept getting pushed till tomorrow. Now, two days a week she and her sister FaceTime to learn Latin.

Hannah is in her last semester of college. Full of practicing and working on her senior recital, she is looking forward to graduating in May with a music degree.  Ellie is in her junior year and enjoying working towards her English degree, despite some of the books she is required to read. She decided to switch from a Philosophy minor to a Music minor and began organ lessons this semester.

Nathan, Abby, and Sam are doing well working on things I assign them. I've gone to a greater number of books, both historical fiction and non-fiction, for them to read. Add that to our memory work and they are getting a pretty good idea of the era of history we are covering.

Speaking of memory work, it is going quite well. I changed some things. One of the biggest was that now on Even days, instead of going over Latin vocabulary and phrases, we are going instead through the Six Chief Parts of the Catechism. We recite one each even day and this has been a good thing. Nathan, Abby, and Sam are much better at Memory Work than I am. I am the only one continually flubbing the new line of the Latin Apostle's Creed, or forgetting which element comes next in the Periodic Table song or getting the date wrong in our History sentences. Oh well, I'm trying and they can say they know more than their mother.

Here are the books I've read since this year began.
Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child by Anthony Esolen finished Jan. 21: excellent book. I would recommend this to everyone. He doesn't give solutions, but he sure gives lots to think about and therefore how one can change things in their own lives.

Echoes by Maeve Binchy finished Jan. 24: a very good book. I enjoy Binchy novels and her ability to write such intriguing character based stories. They are novels I turn to when I need something easy and quick.

The 17 Day Diet: A Doctor's Plan Designed for Rapid Results by Mike Moreno finished Jan. 27: recommended by a friend who, along with her husband, have been doing this for almost a year. I found it interesting and it showed me and my husband how lazy we had gotten with the food we put in our mouths (too much). It isn't one, though, that we could use as our ongoing way of eating. For that, we much prefer a low-carb way of thinking. This book did remind us of that and therefore that is a good thing.

House of Living Stones by Katie Schuermann finished Jan. 29th: very good book about Lutherans. An engaging tale and set-up for her next book:

The Choir Immortal by Katie Schuermann finished Jan. 31st: excellent! I loved this one more than the first. I hope we get another installment or two. Mrs. Schuermann has done a great job bringing to life real people, their faults, their strengths, and what living together in a church family is all about. Be prepared to shed some tears.

The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter finished Feb. 2: Excellent book I picked up at the library for Nathan and Abby to read for history. It is about a young American boy who is kidnapped at age 4 by Indians, raised by them and at age 15 is forced by the American soldiers to return to his biological family. All three of us really enjoyed this novel.

April Morning by Howard Fast finished Feb. 6th: A very good book, not as gripping as The Light in the Forest. It is also a book I found on the library shelves for Nathan and Abby to read for history. It tells the story of twenty-four hours in the life of a fifteen year old boy who lives in Massachusetts in 1775. The twenty-four hours happen to be April 19th, and he lives near Lexington and Concord. A story about turning into a man, at times you don't like the boy and other times you feel sorry for him.

Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf finished Feb. 8th: Not so good of a book. This was for my book club and we all agreed that it was dull and hard to follow. A stream of conscious book that takes place over twenty-four hours in the life of Mrs. Dalloway which we found hard to follow and were it not for reading Spark Notes, we wouldn't have been able to come up with the themes of the book. To us it seemed like the perfect "English teacher" book that is used to torment the student and keep the love of reading from them.

I'm currently reading:
LadyLike: Living Biblically by Rebekah Curtis and Rose Adle: I read this one aloud to my husband last year, but am reading it again with a Ladies' group at church. It is very good and am enjoying my re-read.

Why We Get Fat: And What to Do About It by Gary Taubes: This is a requirement for my Health class which Nathan and Abby are working through. Since I haven't read it since Hannah and Ellie went through this class, I decided to re-read it and I'm glad I am.

The Puritan Dilemma:The Story of John Winthrop by Edmund S. Morgan: A biography I picked up on the recommendation of a homeschool friend for Nathan and Abby to read. I am finding it very interesting and enlightening. We should finish it by the end of the week.

1776 by David McCullough: Another book I'm having Nathan and Abby read for history. We just began this book and currently are reading a chapter a day.

Concordia: The Lutheran Confessions: A Reader's Edition of the Book of Concord: David and I are following a guide to try and read through this during the forty days of Lent.

The Martian by Andy Weir: This is a book a friend loaned to me and I am just starting it today.

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