Monday, June 10, 2019

A New Nation to the Civil War Year Recap

This is the recap of topics, enrichment, and books we covered or used during our school year...The New Nation to the Civil War Year (1800-1865).

I did not include science because it was all over the place. My 14-year old focused on biology, and the younger ones did a little geology and astronomy. We did some nature study, but did not form a habit.

Michelle Miller: TruthQuest History: Age of Revolution II: America/Europe, 1800-1865
H.A. Guerber: The Story of the Great Republic 
Genevieve Foster: Abraham Lincoln's World

I LOVE this book!!!!!!

Term One
Louisiana Purchase
Lewis and Clark Expedition (Blumberg: The Incredible Journey of Lewis & Clark)
War of 1812 (Jean Fritz: The Great Little Madison)
The Star Spangled Banner

Term Two
The Trail of Tears (Encyclopedia of Native American Tribes)
The Alamo (Cousins: The Boy in the Alamo)
The Great Migration
The Mexican American War

Term Three
The Civil War (Freedman: Lincoln: A Photobiography; and Murphy: The Boys War)

Washington Irving: Rip Van Winkle and The Ledgend of Sleepy Hollow
Harriet Beecher Stowe: Uncle Tom's Cabin, Young Folk's Edition
Stephen Crane: Red Badge of Courage 

Term One: Macbeth
Term Two: Twelfth Night
Term Three: Othello

Cohn: From Sea to Shining Sea: 
     Term One: "Bridging the Gap"
     Term Two: "Water, Water Everywhere"
     Term Three: "Let My People Go"

Kaufman: Our Young Folks' Plutarch (for my 14-year old)
Beesley: Stories From the History of Rome (for my 10- & 11-year olds)
Mason: Ourselves

Term One
Poet: Lord Alfred Tennyson
Composer: Felix Mendelssohn
Artist: Jacques-Louis David


Term Two
Poet: Walt Whitman
Composer: Frederic Chopin
Artist: John Constable


Term Three
Poet: Emily Dickinson
Composer: Franz Liszt
Artist: Eugene Delacroix


EXTRA STUDIES (for my 14-year old)
Art History: Janson: The History of Painting
Logic: Adler: How to Read a Book
Theology: Lewis: Mere Christianity
Citizenship: Maybury: Whatever Happened to Justice?


We pick up where we left off. Beginning with 1865 and ending by 1900, we will study Reconstruction, Westward Expansion, the Wild West, the railroad, Native Americans and war with the Natives, industrial and technological progress, women suffrage, and the Spanish-American War.

I have already chosen our literature and enrichment for each term. And for science, we are sticking with chemistry for the whole year. I sort of fell off the Charlotte Mason ban wagon. I could not do everything. As my year planning comes together, I will share the details.

Have a great summer!

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Our Year with Shakespeare

This is not my first experience with Shakespeare, but I have only ever read children's versions. However, this is my first experience with Shakespeare in its original language and format. To complicate matters...I read it with my children, ages 14, 11, and 10. These are the plays we read for the school year. By the way, we assigned ourselves characters and read our lines accordingly, sometimes willingly, sometimes under duress. 

Published 1623

So Macbeth was absolutely too violent for young ears; said child did not even watch a film edition with us when we were done reading the play. She is exceptionally sensitive to these issues, and that is understandable. The other two enjoyed the story of Macbeth, once it started to make sense. For my own sanity, I often used a resource to help us comprehend what we read. 

Obviously violence is a theme of Macbeth, and so is fate. Sadly, the main character Macbeth started off as a good general, but he became zealous when he heard a prophecy about his future that he would be rewarded a title and power; thereafter, he schemed with his wife to take control of his own fate and force the result, getting so caught up in their selfish desire, creating such terror and permitting the prophecy to come true after all, though not as they had expected. 

I have to be frank: it really was frightening to see the evil scheme unravel and cause so many others dread and fear. But in the end Macbeth and his wife received their rightful payment for their plot and restitution was given to the one Macbeth owed. 

Twelfth Night
Published 1623

Twelfth Night was not murderous or violent, but extremely confusing and meant to be silly. And the silliest character of them all, the clown, is also the wisest. Pay attention to him whenever he joins the set. Characters in this play are not who you think they are, unless you follow easily; there is a lot of cross dressing and name changing. It was like doing brain hurt. 

Although Shakespeare broke a lot of protocol for playwrights in his day, he cleverly cleaned up the confusion in the end. But over all, he is no different than artists today who pressure the status quo, provoke thoughts, and influence the culture.

We watched a film edition of this play, and it was really weird. Not surprised at all.

Published 1622

Finally, we read Othello, and I knew this was one of the more controversial plays to read with young children. We skimmed over the disputable sections, though much of the context went over their heads. Whew. 

A major theme of this play is envy and jealousy. One man, Iago, ruins so many lives because of his greedy desire to be more important than everyone else. Though Othello is the object of his hate, Iago spreads lies and defames anyone involved with Othello. The frustrating thing is that we are not sure why he hates Othello, who is a righteous man. Is he motivated by racism, envy, jealousy, or even lust? We never find out. But like Macbeth, the evil scheme spreads like cancer and causes such horrible results. Unfortunately, there is no retribution here. It was literally a mess.

Aside from the mess, I found this play easy to read and understand. Reading aloud was smoother than the previous two plays. And no, we did not watch a film version of this play. Of course.

So...why read Shakespeare in the original format and language? Because it is like learning a new language, such as Latin. It is like physical exercise for your cranium. It is challenging, and young people should be challenged. It is too bad Shakespeare is not required reading in grade school. 

For fun, here is a skit from Kiss Me Kate, called "Brush up Your Shakespeare."

Monday, June 3, 2019

When Hard Work Pays Off

In May, my younger daughters participated in the production of Cinderella with their dance studio. Auditions were back in December. My older daughter performed as an extra townsperson and ballroom guest. The ballroom dance was rigorous, especially in hoop skirts. My youngest one was cast as Gus Gus. 

For several months the girls learned their routines, and as showtime approached, practices and rehearsals increased. It is a great parental sacrifice, having to drive, drop off, pick up, and volunteer. The entire show is run by staff and parent volunteers, and it is amazing to see it all come together so smoothly.

A five-hour rehearsal was set one Thursday night in May. The next Friday morning was children's theater, in which the show was performed for local school children for free. I volunteered for side stage work during rehearsal and children's theater. Saturday and Sunday the studio presented three shows of Cinderella, and I will explain how that went off in a moment. 

First, here is my youngest getting whiskers, as Gus.

This is Gus and Mary.

This is my oldest as a townsperson.

And in her ballroom gown.

And here is my youngest with her class of mice characters
during studio pictures. 

Gus, Jacques, and Mary

Fooling around on rehearsal night...

A parent took this picture during one show day...

Friday afternoon we learned that my mother's husband had passed away; therefore, in addition to juggling dance classes and my son's piano rehearsal that night, we were now planning a trip to Missouri to attend a funeral. 

Saturday morning I dropped my girls off at the college for their first public performance of Cinderella, at 2pm. The girl's hour break between shows was right in the middle of our son's piano recital, which was also the same day and at the same college, just two parking lot's away. A friend volunteered to take my girls between shows. Whew.

Following is a clip of my younger one's performance in "We Can Do It."
Gus is in the yellow t-shirt.

Meanwhile, my son's recital began at 4pm, and the first of his five pieces was Chopin's Waltz Op 64, No 2. He was fifth up to perform when he began...and about 1/3 way into his performance, the lights suddenly went off. My son...continued playing. He did not flinch. The room became unsettled, and everyone was looking about, questioning; his teacher was frantic, trying to find the problem, while others were trying to help...all while my son mesmerizingly played Chopin. When he was done, he received a rousing ovation. 

Later he said, if Dr. Minasian, his teacher, really needed him to stop, she would have said so; but she did not, and he continued on. Meanwhile, the rest of the recital went on in the dark, with some natural light shining into the room through two propped open doors. That was the best that could be done, and it worked.

About two hours into the recital, we took an intermission. My husband stepped outside for a moment and informed me that people were leaving the the theater, which was visible from the music room. He suggested I check my phone in case my friend caring for my girls contacted me about a problem at the theater. 

Sure enough, she did. She said there was a power outage that affected the entire campus; the 6pm show was postponed until 6pm Sunday instead. She brought my girls to me, and they were able to watch the end of their brother's recital with us.

Since we had planned to pack on Sunday night for our flight on Monday afternoon from Las Vegas, we now had to pack Saturday night, since Sunday would be taken up with the postponed performance. We were able to see the 2pm show and later finished our packing and plans for travel before the end of Sunday night. It was crazy, and I am leaving out the emotional details and specifics that also occurred in addition to the power outage disrupting the piano recital and Cinderella performances. But in the end, all worked out well.

After all was done, we were so exhausted and drained, but I had a moment to think about how proud I was of my kids'. They worked hard all year and they did really well. I never think about it while I am driving about, waiting here, going there, and rearranging our days to fit in the commitment to this work. But when it is over, I can see the whole picture: the sacrifice has more meaning and purpose because it matters to dedicate yourself, and it pays off to work hard and be your best. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Field Trips

Living in Southern California is a benefit and a headache and backache and mental get the point. There is so much to do, but to do it, one must get out two hours early, fill up the vehicle with petro, and mentally and physically prepare to It will take the whole day, and when you get home, you will feel comatose; everyone will take a nap, so do not expect to do much else.

Having said that, we got out on our spring break week to visit a garden and museum. It took two hour to get to Descanso Gardens, and while we were "down there," we stopped by the Norton Simon Museum, which was 20 minutes away. It took another two hours to get home. But I am appreciative of these times with the kids and that we can enjoy these trips. So I am only half complaining.

My kids bring bags to collect samples, and when we get home they are supposed to look at them under the microscope; but that did not happen because we were pooped.

 Descanso Gardens in La CaƱada Flintridge

This was a first to see...a mule deer.

Next was the Norton Simon, a small museum, which took us an hour to go through. 
They have Picassos, Degases, Manets, Monets, Riveras, and Van Goghs.

Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena

And then there is contemporary art...always pointless.

Although, I think my mathematical-brained son enjoyed the lines and geometric shapes.

The Norton Simon has a garden and pond, too.

And a replica of The Thinker.

My front of The Thinker.
Me, sauntering under The Thinker,
though I probably should not have had my feet on the pedestal. 

Then we saw this cute little guy, which I was able to get a close up; when we got home, 
I looked him up and he is a male (obviously) Western Bluebird.

OK, my favorite field trip was in the heart of Los Angeles, at USC, which took us 2.5 hours to drive to, and another half hour to find parking! It was the annual Festival of Books, and it was awesome. We did not listen to any speakers, but only walked about for several hours browsing all of the vendors selling books, new and used, or showing off what they do. There were many new authors trying to sell their works, and some established authors giving autographs. 

The only sad thing for me was the overall lost atmosphere of many people who write and sell book related items. Some of the themes of books were dark, pushing evil as good and good as evil. Every worldly religion, Islam, many Eastern religions, witchcraft, pagan, atheist, and the like were present, except Christianity. I only saw one vendor who was outwardly Christian and sharing his book, while everything else was lost. I cannot explain how badly I wanted to talk to all of them, but my husband told me later it would not have been the place...or why even give them attention. But that is not how I feel; nonetheless, while I know it would have been futile on that day to say anything, you do not know if a seed is planted for a long time off. If I get to go next year, I will bring Bible tracks with me.

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books @ USC

By the way, my husband received numerous (he counted eight) compliments on his shirt. I also heard people say things about it in passing, as they were walking by! And me? Nothing! It was a book festival, for goodness sake! I give up. People thought the shirt was Game of Throne related. Ugh.