Friday, May 15, 2020

Reconstruction/Westward Ho!: Term Three Wrap-Up and End of School Year

Wrapping up Term Three right at the turn of the century (1899). In addition to Bible, Character, English grammar, math, and chemistry, these are the subjects we explored:

TERM THREE

Poetry: Lewis Carroll (1832-1898)
Composer: Tchaikovsky (1840-1893)
Artist: Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890)

Van Gogh: Cafe Terrace at Night (1888)

Folksong/lore: From Sea to Shinning Sea
     "Tricksters, on Two Feet, Four or More"

  • Tia Miseria
  • The Devil's Questions
  • Iktome and the Ducks
  • Glooskap and Wasis
  • Brer Rabbit in Mr. Man's Garden
  • Oh, John the Rabbit
  • The Connecticut Peddler
  • Sharing the Crops



History
I. Industrial/Technological Progress (1870-1914)
  • Curlee: Liberty, The Brooklyn Bridge
  • Benge: Thomas Edison Inspiration and Hard Work
  • Swain: A Hunger for Learning (Booker T. Washington)
II. Women's Suffrage (1840-1920)
  • Fritz: You Want Women to Vote Lizzie Stanton?


III. Spanish-American War (1898)
  • Benge: Theodore Roosevelt: An American Original
Geography
  • Cuba
  • Philippines 
Literature
  • Twain: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn


Shakespeare: Hamlet

Next fall we plan to begin where we left off, 1900. I'm so excited to head into our next chapter, but first we'll take a summer break. Enjoy your summer!

Monday, April 20, 2020

A Weak Argument for Banning Homeschooling

SOURCE

By now, every homeschooling parent (or organization) who is seriously committed to homeschooling, and pays even a little attention to the backwardness of this world, has read and remarked on a  commentary titled The Risks of Homeschooling, written by Erin O'Donnell and posted in Harvard Magazine (May-June 2020). Now it's my turn. 

Before I begin, examine the image above copied from the Harvard Mag, which depicts a pitiful homeschool child, looking through prison bars of her house of books,  - imagine a house of books a prison! - while the happy public school children run and play freely outdoors. I wonder where this image originated and from what mind because truly this is a reversal of roles, and the person who designed it is ignorant of home education.  

Next, I would like to know if anyone proofread this op ed hit piece? Does Harvard usually support articles lacking supporting evidence of bizarre claims? Are they content with the blaring bias or one-sidedness of the argument presented? I am genuinely curious. 

The author summarized comments made by Elizabeth Bartholet, a public interest  professor (red flag), who wants to regulate or ban home education. Her concerns include:

  • Homeschooling does not provide for mandated reporters to check for child abuse or neglect.
  • Children (up to 90%) may be raised in conservative Christian homes, including some " 'extreme religious ideologues' who question science and promote female subservience and white supremacy." 
  • Children may be taught by parents who do not read or know how to write.
  • A fear that children may not be given the knowledge to get jobs and support themselves.
  • Another fear that they may not obtain a meaningful education.
  • And still more: that children may lack exposure to community, social, and democratic values, and ideas about nondiscrimination and tolerance of other people's viewpoints.

Let's examine these points.

  • Since when is public school the safest place for children? What about the abuse of children by teachers, staff, and other students? The Associated Press reported 17,000 U.S. cases of sexual abuse in public school alone, from 2011-2015. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Education estimated that 1 in 10 students would be sexually assaulted by teachers! According to the National Bullying Prevention Center, 1 in 5 students report being bullied. (That's only what is reported.)
  • I cannot find that wild statistic of 90% conservative Christian, but if the number is high, I would guess it is closer to 65%. And so what if it is? Personally, my first homeschool group was an irreligious, liberal homeschool group that believed in sharing food through co-ops, circumventing doctors for better health, eliminating cows whose flatulence was heating the planet, and shutting down anyone who had exclusive Christian beliefs. I learned early on that not every homeschooler was a radical, conservative Christian like me. Furthermore, Bartholet's views about female subservience and white supremacy is shocking. She zeros in on a very small number of people in the U.S. and I don't know if they all homeschool. Again, she speculated and failed to include sources. She also assumed that the only religious groups who homeschool are Christian and did not include Muslims, many who do teach a female subservient principle. The author must be ok with some radical religious groups homeschooling their children. 
  • Next, again, we are missing more evidence that parents who teach their children are not reading or writing. I would argue that parents who homeschool are more apt to read and write than parents who are not in direct connection to their children's learning (ie. public school parents) because homeschool parents must be abreast of what their children are learning, especially if they are, like me, creating their children's school year, writing up their curriculum, and participating in the learning process. That's all I personally know, although, there are options to buy curriculum or take online classes and have the student self teach. In one article, I found an argument that claimed students did better on their college exams and SATS because their parents tend to be better educated, but it did not include the source for that claim. Still interesting. Anyway, in my family, there is not enough time in a day to personally read or write. But that's me. 
  • This next one: the fear that children may not get a job or fend for themselves - again, I need sources, proof, evidence. Let's look at the drop out rate of public school. Let's compare the number of students who end up on welfare and how they were educated. Basically, let's look at the "success rate" of homeschoolers! Is her fear unfounded? Proof, please! 
  • The meaningful education idea: may I use a typical liberal excuse for a moment? "Meaningful" is in the eye of the beholder. I came to confidently believe that I understood what was missing in my six years of public education (my first six years were in Catholic school, but the last six were wasted in public school), and I believed I figured out what was missing. I wanted to get right to the heart of the topic. I wanted all of our lessons to be one continuous plane in which all of the world's literature, history, music, art, poetry, and science (eww, science) flowed seamlessly as one, not disjointed and butchered as it is in public school. Yeah, call me arrogant...I knew I could teach life to my kids better than what was to me a faceless entity that could not care about my kid's future better than me.
  • The final idea, that homeschooled kids are not getting a healthy dose of good ol' tolerant, one-sided, Marxist education: well, that's tolerant! After all, democratic means supporting democracy and its principles. Isn't that what homeschoolers are doing? Expressing, utilizing, and taking advantage of their liberty in self-government, to live the way they believe is right? I mean, the opposite of democracy is dictatorship. Is Ms. Bartholet suggesting a one-size-fits-all educational approach to learning that one would find in a totalitarian regime? What a sad world it would be if all American children were processed the same through their education, only to express the same ideas and thoughts and worldview. 

I think it was Bartholet who suggested that "requiring children to attend schools outside the home for six or seven hours a day did not unduly limit parents’ influence on a child’s views and ideas." But I disagree. That is the perfect opportunity for impressionable minds to be influenced by their peers and other adults. Of course it is going to happen. 

Once a friend put it this way to me, "Everyday I have to spend the next few hours undoing what my kid learned at school that day." (Sorry, but what do we expect?) Why else would Bartholet and like-minded adults want to extract children from their homes, away from parents, and into an institution 6-7 hours a day? To influence them according to their beliefs!

And finally, the last statement of the article: 

“The issue is, do we think that parents should have 24/7, essentially authoritarian control over their children from ages zero to 18? I think that’s dangerous,” Bartholet says. “I think it’s always dangerous to put powerful people in charge of the powerless, and to give the powerful ones total authority.”
Again, same problem. Yes! Leftists (that is what they are) truly believe you cannot raise your children. You are dangerous! Only they know best how to raise your child. It's not even about education anymore. It's about confusing, deadening, and programing your impressionable child's mind and senses to question truth, reality, and tradition.

How dare you think you can "train up your child in the way he should go..."

And these are the people who will be hosting this ideological anti-parent pow wow and how to push this worldview into political policy down to the individual states. Again, I can't stop reiterating: this is the same ideology that says you are not capable of knowing what is best for you, your own offspring, society, the future, or the world. You absolutely need educated thinkers, like, from Harvard, to make policy to dictate how all people must live the same. This is their world, and they don't need people like you, who don't think like them, to mess it up.

Elizabeth Bartholet

By the way, if you want to read her thesis on the dangers of parental absolutism, you can read the 80 pages right HERE Maybe she scrapped up supporting evidence for her case in it. I'm not going to waste my time because I already know they are a stretch, and sadly, it does not matter.

They will win out, not because parents or homeschoolers can't make a good case for themselves, but mainly because a very small group of elitist, like Bartholet, control government policy in the end.

And though she complained that homeschoolers right now are "getting their way" because no legislature has succeeded to regulate them enough, you can be sure these elitists won't stop until they have their way and parents lose complete rights to raising their own children.

UPDATED: Additional op ed via Forbes: To Save the Children, Harvard Magazine Calls for the Abolition of the Family.

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Reconstruction & Westward Ho! End of Term Two Wrap Up 2020

With all that is going on, I forgot to share a review of Term Two, which ended the last week of February. Following are poet and poems, composer and pieces, artist and works, and Folksongs/lore that we covered, as well as history we read, geography we studied, and literature completed. We also finished our Shakespeare earlier than expected. For science, we used experiments from MelChemistry.

Poet: Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

  • A Better Resurrection
  • Dream Land
  • Color
  • A Birthday
  • A Christmas Carol
  • Love Came Down at Christmas




Composer: Johannes Brahms (1833-1897)

  • Concerto in D for Violin
  • German Requiem
  • Piano Music, Op. 116 - 119
  • Variations on a Theme by Haydn
  • Waltzes, Op. 39
  • Hungarian Dance




Artist: Pierre-Auguste Renoir (1841-1919)

  • Two Sisters on the Terrace
  • La Loge
  • La GrenouillĂ©re
  • Girls at the Piano
  • Portrait of Mademoiselle Irene Cahen d' Anvers
  • Dance in the City & Dance in the Country


The Two Sisters on the Terrace (1881)

Folksong/folklore: From Sea to Shinning Sea: "O Pioneers!"
  • Handcart Song
  • Febold Feboldson, First Citizen of Nebraska
  • Oh, Susannah
  • The First Woman to Vote in the State of California
  • Sweet Betsy from Pike
  • The Darning Needle
  • Acres of Clams
  • Dakota Dugout
  • By'm Bye



History
Native Americans: Indian Boyhood - Charles Eastman
War in the West: Custer's Last Battle - Paul Goble



Geography
Native American Tribes (Plains, Apache, Comanche, Cheyenne, Shoshone, Sioux)
Battle with Native Tribes: Little Bighorn, Wounded Knee

Literature: Around the World in Eighty Days (1873) - Jules Verne (1828-1905)




Shakespeare: Hamlet



End of Term One: HERE

Thursday, April 9, 2020

Isolation Virus Update #4

Day 24 in isolation. I think.
Yesterday was challenging.
My patience is being gravely tried.

This was our spring break, but it has been cold and rainy since Monday; at least if it were sunny, we could sit outside in the backyard. Nonetheless, we cannot go anywhere and the parks are closed. Besides, anyone daring to escape his home is frowned upon and publicly shamed for doing so. I cannot believe the ninnies who report fellow citizens trying to enjoy their insanity. 

Part of my recent bad attitude is caused by my sudden rejection of fully embracing what we are being told is the truth. Furthermore, I see a far more dangerous situation spreading than coronavirus, and that is our government swallowing American autonomy, liberty, responsibility, and livelihoods. 

Imagine if this turn of events taught people the truth of living under a nanny state and that citizens would flee ideas like handouts from the government that hardly feed you and sustain you for awhile. They would understand how far a lousy check really got them. And I would hope they would get tired of being stuck at home for weeks on end with no change in sight, knowing that God made man to desire work and to be responsible. But I'm afraid people still look to government to provide them with utopia.

Initially, California gave us two weeks and then added a month to sit through this, but we don't know if people will be free to go back to work by May, nor if certain cities or counties will be opened depending on numbers. In San Bernardino, we have had over 600 confirmed cases with 20 deaths, allegedly due to Covid19.  

Speaking of San Bernardino County, two days ago they issued a rule that if you go outside, you must wear a mask. If you leave your house, you must have a mask on -- at work, the store, and in your car when going through a drive thru. Churches may only have video services, especially for Easter, and no one is permitted to do those automobile parade things in their cars looking for Easter eggs posted in windows, nor pick up pre-made Easter eggs or candy. (So glad this virus did not happen during Ramadan.)

Sad that the County has the power to make those decisions. If you do not abide, you may be fined $1000 or up to 90 days in jail, which totally makes sense! Right? I mean, enough people no longer have an income, and the state released convicted criminals to conveniently make room for real criminals parading around neighborhoods in their cars hoping to satisfy their children. 

Monday my husband took me to Kaiser in Fontana for an ultrasound regarding something I have been dealing with since January. They were testing at the front of building 2, which was a stupid place to test for coronavirus. You would think they would have set their tent in the parking lot instead of where most patients seek entry through the FRONT DOOR! Duh!

Those of us who did not see the sign lying facedown on the wet ground, fallen by a poor tape job, were yelled at to: "GET BACK! WE'RE TESTING!" Who knew! We were redirected to the back entrance. By the way, there were more staff than individuals at the testing tent. 

At the back entrance, patients stood on blue tape marked out in 6ft intervals. A staff member asked  questions while I stood ON the blue line and then directed me where to enter. Only patients were permitted into the building. Inside, my temperature was taken, and then I was able to go to my destination. No one wanted to walk near anyone, as if everyone was suspicious that you had the plague. Thank God there were hardly any people walking around. Everyone I saw was wearing a mask, except me and the receptionist. 

Nothing more has happened last week or this week, other than the rain, the new Draconian rules, and  my children are becoming experts at MineCraft. My morale has certainly dropped. 

We did sing "Happy Birthday" to our nephew via Zoom. That was a first.
He lives in El Paso.


And my husband was experimenting with different options for a mask.
He thought he could get away with using a rally towel.
No.


But then he bought this one at a liquor store 
and sent me a picture to see what I thought.
So I sent him a GIF from Goodfellas. 
"Hey, Mom! What do you think?"
"You look like a gangsta."



The last time we went on a walk. Last week, of course.


Next week I hope to talk more about why I think we are headed in the wrong direction.
Trying to keep my chin up.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Isolation Virus Update #3

Two and a half weeks in isolation. Four more weeks to go.

When I was making my calendar for April (some months ago) there was a bit of anxiety because too much was on my plate:
  • a wedding
  • an all-day Mary Poppins rehearsal (my girls)
  • two days of State Testing (the kids)
  • my mother visiting two weeks in April (staying with us!)
  • a piano rehearsal (my son)
  • Mary Poppins picture day (morning)
  • a piano recital (afternoon)
  • a friend's open house (evening)
  • Mary Poppins dress rehearsal
  • Mary Poppins children's theater
  • Mary Poppins performances (Friday and Sunday shows)
  • 3 birthdays (2 on the same day)
  • and my daughter is expected to deliver her baby at the end of April
Add to that: usual homeschool obligations, Easter, and a recently added doctor appointment for myself. Thank goodness one week was designated for spring break. Would I actually get a break? 

Well, now:
  • the wedding is postponed
  • my mother is not coming
  • Mary Poppins is moved to September
  • State Testing is cancelled
  • the piano recital MAY become a virtual recital
  • and the open house is probably a no-go
How quickly my anxiety was for nothing.

Now, our president has requested or suggested (he isn't telling people what to do, but is leaving it up to governors and mayors) another 30 days of isolation or limited public exposure. 

HOW IS SAN BERNARDINO DOING?

So how is it going in San Bernardino County (SoCal)? As of today, we have experienced 6 deaths. San Bernardino is the largest county in the United States, but it also encompasses a lot of desert. 

Where I live, the High Desert, the stores have definitely replenished their stock, with the exception of bulk items at Winco. Some stores still limit items, and all have protocol for how many people may enter a store, where to stand, and even when to shop. (Seasoned citizens may shop at early hours, apart from the general public.) Sadly, I did notice a police presence at a couple of stores, which means, stores are asking for police assistance, in case some people forget how to behave in public.

In fact, my husband and I witnessed an angry man in a parking lot, cursing aloud to his companions because he had to wait for carts to be wiped down when they never needed to be wiped before. Tempers are being tested for sure this.

ON THE HOME FRONT

Dancing at home

At home, my girls have been taking dance lessons from their teachers via Facebook Live and Google Classroom, and my son had his first Zoom piano lesson with his teacher. (She is figuring out how to organize a virtual piano recital now because she says her students have worked so hard all year and deserve to showcase all that they have accomplished.) With these changes, we only have to juggle computer time in our school room, which houses both the piano and the barre!




Other than missing the gym (3-4 nights/week) or taking my girls to dance classes (4 nights/week) or my son's weekly piano lesson or visits to the library (which is also closed to the public), I have not had too much difficulty adjusting to the isolation. Naturally an introvert, I am more burdened by having to physically go somewhere than not having to leave my home. I still wish I did not have to go grocery shopping, but it is the only alone time I spend with my husband. So I compromise. 

Speaking of which, because my husband and I get to go on these shopping dates, we have noticed more men shopping alone. This last weekend, we chuckled at how many men were also on the phone with their wives. "Which brand am I supposed to get?" "Do you want me to get the bone-in or boneless?" "How much do you want me to get? Wait! How much of this are you planning to make?!!" LOL!!

And since we do not have anywhere else to go, I have no idea what is truly going on outside in my community. My husband and son, who work together, head out every morning to work (and thank God they are working), and I ask them what it looks like. They say you can tell the traffic is lighter, but a lot of people are still on the road. Two days ago, my 11-year old exclaimed, "Mom, I just realized!...I haven't been outside since...two weeks ago!"

I do miss going "outside." Our weather has been miserable -- miserable in Southern California means 50-60 degrees, cold, and windy -- so we cannot do school in the sun on our patio; and because of the virus, our favorite park is closed to the public, which means we miss our Friday rollerblading mornings. We did find the Mojave Riverwalk another option, but it is further away, and I think it is considered a park, which our governor has ordered closed. 

SO...WHAT NOW?

For exercise, I'm still doing my pilates and yoga. If you are looking for a Youtube instructor, try BoHo Beautiful (https://www.youtube.com/user/cexercize.) I've been using them for three years, and I'm addicted. It's gentle exercise for my aging body and lower back pain - but there is a lot more for those who want to be challenged, too.




I have more reading time because my evenings are free.  I'm chipping away at my unread books. The first couple of weeks were very distracting because the news was disheartening.  But my fixation has calmed down. Now, in the evenings, the kids and I are enjoying Watership Down by Richard Adams. We haven't done an evening reading together in a long time because we are never home.

And I am getting more writing done on my book blog @ GreatBookStudy.

But most importantly, to stay well grounded, my focus must begin on God every single morning because He is in total control, and if I fail to remember that, I will fall apart. It is already my habit to read Scripture and pray each morning, if I do not have a sleepless night and wake up super late. It happens. But now my time with God is more deliberate, even if I do oversleep. Two weeks ago I fasted for the first time, intentionally to strengthen my spiritual and physical dependence on God, while praying and reading Psalms. It was so encouraging.

Which reminds me, another change to our lives is doing church via Facebook Live. For the last two Sundays, we have gotten up, eaten breakfast together, and then retreated to our living room to listen to Pastor's sermon. Even Dodger (our new pup) gets to "go to church" with us.

Doing church in pajamas?
We are also spending more time together as a family, talking and eating meals, and I have been forced to be creative with food, conscious not to waste any of it. 

Well, eventually, this will end, and what will we take away from it? I have prayed that God would cause us to make this next thirty days purposeful, that it would not go to waste, this time we have. What will we do with it? What is MY ministry going to be?

I am definitely not looking forward to all the changes to come when it has moved on: more government control, regulations, and restrictions on travel, crowds, businesses, public events, and especially forced vaccination, particularly in California and under this governor. I told my husband, "Well, when this is over, we'll have more reasons to leave." 

We shall see.

Stay well. 

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Isolation Virus Update #2

This was from Saturday, March 21

ISOLATION VIRUS UPDATE FROM SO CAL, USA

What a week! It seems it was a completely different century from last week. There are a few extrovert-types in my household who are climbing the walls because of all this "solitude."

By the way, I'm not one of them.

Monday, the state of California issued a "stay-at-home" edict, permitting essential businesses to remain open, while requiring others to close to the public. A lot of folks have been laid off, while some are able to work from home. Basically, our economy has tanked. How are we going to take care of all these people, many who are financially unprepared for this? Nor do I know how long some will be able to contend with this long-term isolation.

Escaping isolation
On the grocery front, I continue to add items I still cannot find no matter where we go: eggs, rice, pasta, and chicken breast, which are staples in our house, and everyone else, obviously. (I knew we should have raised hens!) My husband told me he found a store today that received a shipment of  flour, but the employee didn't want to unbox it yet, and my husband didn't want to wait 20 minutes when she expected to shelve it. So...I told him to see if they had pancake mix or Bisquick. In these times, one is forced to be resourceful. And I'm fine with that.

Finally, after five days of no gym, no dance classes, no piano lessons (we homeschool, so we didn't need to change routine for school), we decided to go OUTSIDE today! Yes, we got into our van and went to the Mojave Riverwalk. The kids rode bikes or rollerbladed, and we even met some friends who were out doing the same with their kids. It was finally a beautiful day. It felt like a little bit of sanity. So many people were using the riverwalk, and everyone said hello and good morning. Humans! It was a relief to have some connection with the outside world. Not surprisingly, we introverts need people connections, even if it is in passing.

What's it like in your part of the world?

Monday, March 16, 2020

Do You Need Perspective During Hard Times?

Do you need perspective on how to live during hard times? 
Try The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder.



We Americans are pampered and spoiled and are not accustomed to waiting in long lines to get basic necessities, such as food, daily supplies, or medicine. We are definitely not used to seeing empty shelves. The last controlled situation or shortage I remember in my lifetime was when I was 8 or 9, back in the 70s, when my parents could only get gas on specified days. But I've never had to deal with this...

NO PRODUCE!


NO BREAD!


NO CHICKEN!


NO BULK ITEMS...RICE...PASTA!!!


ONLY THE YUCKY JELLIES AND JAMS!


NO BANANAS???


NO MEAT?
Over the weekend my family was in Arizona to attend a Spring Training Dodger game on Saturday -- which was suspended beginning Friday by Major League Baseball for two weeks --  but we went anyway because we had plans to meet up with long lost friends.

The week before we left for Arizona, I had heard about the run on grocery stores for items like toilet paper and water, and I told my husband I didn't want to stand in line for toilet paper; so we chose not to go shopping that week, and subsisted on whatever we had already at home.

We had left our pantry and refrigerator bare while we were on our trip, and considered while we were in Arizona to see if conditions were better as we searched for some items we did need; but even there, the shelves were bare.

When we arrived home on Sunday afternoon, we knew we needed to just brave it and go to Costco and Winco, where we normally shop. The stores had crowd control systems in place, which worked efficiently. They were totally out of chicken, so we got steak instead. And my patient husband stood in line for newly arrived toilet paper and grabbed some coconut milk, while I got the frozen fruit for smoothies. We can live on fruit smoothies for awhile, I imagine. Unfortunately, they were out of dish soap and didn't have the laundry detergent I wanted.

We thought we could get those things at Winco, but as you can see from the pictures above, Winco was in a worse predicament than Costco, and they were out of mostly everything. Instead of frozen chicken, I had to buy a cooked whole chicken. Instead of sliced bread, we bought frozen rolls. Instead of grape jelly, we had to buy blackberry jam, (which my son said was actually good). I'm definitely bummed about not having a banana every day.

Since the store was out of soap, I bought dish soap and laundry detergent online, and thank God I found something available via Amazon because most everything was unavailable, though I think my items are not expected until April. Although we use laundry berries to wash most of our clothes, I like to use the detergent for towels and sheets and other things I want to be disinfected. So we aren't totally out of a soap option because we have plenty of berries left.

HOW AM I GOING TO FEED MY FAMILY?

So...while I was bagging my anemic shopping results, I worried..."How am I going to feed my family this week?"

And that is when I thought about the Ingalls family during the Long Winter. They did it for months. They lived on brown bread and potatoes. (Which reminded me, there were no potatoes either!)

"We can do this," I encouraged myself. We are far better off than the Ingalls during the Long Winter. I will be resourceful and creative. And we will talk to the kids (for the millionth time) about being conservative with their servings and portions. We need to make our food and supplies stretch because I refuse to hoard or panic in fear like so many others.

In fact, God will provide. Immediately I got ideas like how to make my own disinfecting wipes, since we are out of Clorox wipes and they are not available online or at the store. I still have a few packages of baby wipes left and I have hydrogen peroxide that I can use to wipe down surfaces if I need to. See? Simple enough!

I really think it is probably time to reread The Long Winter...again! If you need perspective on how to live during hard times, how to be resourceful, how to be neighborly, and how to be encouraged and strengthened by God's provisions and timing, then this is the book to read.

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Book Review: Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne

Around the World in Eighty Days
Jules Verne
Published 1872
French Literature
Back to the Classics (19th C.), The Classics Club

Jules Verne's most popular book, Around the World in Eighty Days, is an adventure story about a wealthy British gentleman, Mr. Fogg, who bet a high wager with members of the Reform Club that he could circumnavigate the globe and arrive back at the Club on that precise day and set time, in exactly eighty days.

Along with his canny French valet, Passepartout, the pair set out east from London and made their way by various modes of transportation available in 1872, through Europe, Asia, and North America. Not surprisingly, they were met with dramatic adventure, perilous conflict, and confounding challenges all while racing against the clock. Passepartout's character also added greatly to the entertainment and comedy of the story.

To complicate matters though, a crime had been committed in London, before Mr. Fogg's departure, and he happened to fit the description of the thief. Hence, a British detective, Mr. Fix, pursued Mr. Fogg for the entire length of the journey with an elusive arrest warrant. In addition to all of the unexpected incidents, Mr. Fogg picked up a female companion in India who loyally remained with him, all the way back to London.



This story is dated, which is historical because it is set during a time when Britain colonized Asia, but the book is also probably politically incorrect by today's standards, especially when the troop travel through the United States. Apparently, Verne took this story from real life, as it had been written about already numerous times before this book was published.

In the end, there was a slight miscalculation, which was a little unbelievable given the exactness of Mr. Fogg. And apparently, this calculation was known at the time of publication, though Verne used the error to the benefit of the story. In case you have not read this, I won't reveal what it is, but you can figure it out on your own, if you do read it. It was very obvious.

Overall, my kids enjoyed this story, and with the exception of the some difficult vocabulary, it is the perfect book for elementary age readers. After we read the book, we enjoyed the 1956 film version of the book, which deviates a few times from the modes of transportation, as well as places en route. But Passepartout is so comical, and is a nice touch to the seriousness of the story.

Around the World in 80 Days, 1956,
Det. Fix, Aouda, Passepartout, and Mr. Fogg

Monday, February 3, 2020

Book Review: Indian Boyhood by Ohiyesa Charles A. Eastman

Indian Boyhood
Charles A. Eastman
Native American
Published 1902

My children and I read this book for history. We read it many years ago for our Little House year, but they were much younger at the time and remember nothing. My goal was to expose them (again) to life other than their own, and because this is a "child's" memoir, I hoped it to be interesting. It also supports our study of Native Americans. One thing I got out of it was the great appreciation for and knowledge of nature.

Indian Boyhood is the autobiography/memoir of a Native American boy born in Minnesota, 1858. Charles Eastman was born Hakadah, and later known as Ohiyesa. His mother died at his birth and his father [Jacob] and brothers were betrayed by another Native tribe to the United States Government, and thought to have been killed.

For fifteen years of his life, Ohiyesa was raised by his grandmother and trained to be a warrior by an uncle. He told his story in this memoir about growing up and living as a Dakota Sioux. He wrote about his earliest recollections, survival training, recreations, family and tribal traditions and legends, adventures, and finally his opinion of the white man's civilization.

He also grew up with animosity and bitterness in his heart, with a desire to someday avenge his father's death. It was easy to understand why he harbored these feelings, and why he had negative opinions of the white man. He believed they always desired to acquire more possessions and to be rich. They wanted [the Indians] to sell their land, and eventually would drive them away and destroy their beautiful country, Eastman said.

But Eastman admitted that he admired the white race because of the power they had to build and invent, such as the "fire boat walks on mountains," which was a locomotive. And he noticed an obvious difference between those whites who practiced Christianity and those who did not.

The best chapter is the very last one. After Ohiyesa turned 15, he was surprised by a visit from his father, Jacob, who explained how, after his betrayal, he had been imprisoned for "involvement" in the Minnesota Massacre, and while in prison he was educated and introduced to Christianity. When the U.S. government found no evidence to support the charge against Jacob, he was pardoned by President Lincoln and went to live on a reservation. There he found government reservation life insulting and decided to try "the white man's ways."

He bought land under the Homestead Act and began to assimilate into the civilized world. But it was Jacob's faith that compelled him to search for Ohiyesa, even knowing how dangerous it would be. When he found him, he brought white man's clothing for him to change. At first, Ohiyesa was reluctant to wear the clothing because it represented the very people he hated. However, he reasoned, they also did not kill his father or brothers, and that is what finally convinced him to put them on. Then Ohiyesa went to live with his father.

Each morning his father sang hymns and read from the Bible, and this left a great impression on Eastman, who also made the decision to follow Christ. He said, "Here is where my wild life ends, and my school days begin."

The memoir ends there, but I will add that Eastman went on to become a thoroughly educated man and a great leader, especially for the Native American people. A bit of trivia: he was the founder of the Boy Scouts of America. And he wrote numerous other books, of which someday I hope to have time to read.


Dr. Charles Alexander Eastman - Ohiyesa

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Term One of Reconstruction / Westward Ho Year and End of the Year Stuff

Term One of our Reconstruction / Westward Ho Year ended in November.

Besides Bible reading and hymns,
we read poetry by Emma Lazarus,
listened to music by the Strauss family,
and observed art by Mary Cassatt.

We continued reading Ourselves by Charlotte Mason
and American folklore and songs in From Sea to Shining Sea.

For history we covered Reconstruction,



Westward Expansion,



the Wild West,



and the Transcontinental Railroad.



Geography corresponded with history: 
studying the map of the U.S. during Reconstruction, 
Westward Expansion, 
the Transcontinental Railroad, 
and eight states that joined the Union from 1866-1890.

For literature
we read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
and for Shakespeare we read A Midsummer Night's Dream.

In Science, we used The Mystery of the Periodic Table by Wiker
I highly recommend this book for chemistry, up through high school. 
Not boring like a text book. 
We also used chemistry experiments from Mel Science
which I also recommend.



NO FIELD TRIPS

I am sad to admit that we have not had any exciting field trips this year,
although Big Boy came through our city, and one of my kids was able to witness that.

THE REASON: I officially refuse to drive on the freeways. Over the years I have come to know other adults who won't drive on the freeway. Why? Because it is torturous, maddening, and harrowing.

Often I volunteered to be the designated driver for field trips, hikes, and everything else. I braved getting lost, seeing our lives flash before our eyes, sitting in long hours of traffic, and getting home five hours later than is mathematically necessary because we live in a city where not much happens, and you must use the freeways and drive an hour or more for major culture and entertainment.

This last summer when we went to the beach, it took us four hours to get home -- one of those HOURS was spent driving five miles (FIVE MILES!) and it was on a TOLL ROAD! It cost me $7 to sit for one hour covering only five miles of freeway. We left the beach EARLY, took the toll road to cut a 1/2 hour off our drive time, and my daughter still missed her dance classes! After that, the ban went into effect, and it isn't expected to be lifted so long as I live here. I AM DONE!

But...whatever we missed in field trips, we made up in Nutcracker.

Nutcracker is the month that comes after November. This is my girls' fourth year in Nutcracker. My older daughter was cast as an angel, a shepherdess, and a tulip, and my younger one was cast as Clara's best friend and a violet. Rehearsals were every Saturday from October until showtime. So, we were busy enough; we didn't need field trips to have a full end of the year.

It started with snow on Thanksgiving:


the City Christmas parade:





a community show and Town tree lighting:



a birthday at Knott's Merry Farm: 


and two Nutcracker shows,

(This is my youngest daughter in purple during party scene.)



(And this is my older daughter as the green shepherdess.)


finishing up the year with a cast party, Christmas, and New Year's Day.

I'm proud of them for wanting to participate and enjoying it, as well. All the time and energy and money is worth it.

Finally, it snowed the night after Christmas. It snows about every ten years where we live. This year it has already snowed twice. 





That was the end of 2019. Back to work. Term Two has already begun, and I will catch up later.

Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 13, 2019

The Transcontinental Railroad

From Sea to Shining Sea
A Treasury of American Folklore and Folk Songs
Compiled by Amy Cohn

It's perfect when life lines up with what we are learning. For one, I love this book, From Sea to Shining Sea by Amy Cohn, of American folksongs and folklore because it is in chronological order and coincides with our studies. This chapter is on the transcontinental railroad, and features songs and lore about the topic.











When we come to songs, I always find great resources via Youtube. Here's Johnny Cash singing Rock Island Line.



When real life is timed perfectly with our studies, that makes me happy. This weekend, the Union Pacific Steam Engine #4014 "Big Boy" came through Victorville. Supposedly it is the only steam engine around, made to commemorate the 150th year of the Transcontinental Railroad. Here are some pics and a video my husband took.