Saturday, August 1, 2015

Saturday Catch-All: First Week, Dudamel, Nature Journal Share

First Week
We just finished the first week of our new school year. Why so early, you ask? Two reasons: We had already had five relaxed weeks and needed to get back into routine, and starting early allows us to be a little more flexible about taking a day off here or there if necessary. We are already planning on a two-week break at the end of August/beginning of September as Stephen takes his vacation then. SA(7) started Year Two using Ambleside Online, and JJ(5) started his "Kindergarten" year. This basically means that I have started reading lessons with him, while he continues to participate in our family outdoor time, reading aloud time, poetry tea time, math activities, etc.

Anyway, I am exhausted today. Homeschooling requires intense interaction with my children, and I had gotten used to less of that during our vacation. As an introvert, all this interaction drains me. I know from last year, though, that I will adjust over time and come up with coping mechanisms to deal with it. And I do love homeschooling with a passion that still surprises me despite this small drawback in my own personality.

The rewards appear daily when I least expect them...
-the twinkle in SA's eye as he's about to narrate something that amused him.
-the effortless use of a big word that he just heard for the first time in reading a week ago.
-the creative engineering of paper airplanes to make them fly better (a collaborative effort between the oldest two).
-JJ's excitement in the discovery of addition facts using Cuisenaire rods.
-the enthusiasm with which all three of them run around gathering fistfuls of flowers for me to draw in my nature journal as I sit peacefully in the grass with the baby.

This is what I will remember, and it is what I choose to think about after the exhausting jumble of chores and schoolwork, discipline challenges and moments of joy, happy lessons and lessons that meet with resistance.
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Philippians 4:4-8)

Introducing Dudamel 
Our composer this term is Johannes Brahms, and this week's listening was "Variations on a Theme by Haydn." Our music appreciation lesson is very simple. On Thursday morning at teatime, we get our snacks and go watch the piece on YouTube.  Yes, that's all we do. One of my favourite things about watching music on YouTube is that you can often watch the conductor. I love watching conductors! This week's conductor was Gustavo Dudamel. I was immediately struck by his air of calm joyfulness. Curious, I later looked up more videos with him conducting and was amused to see a huge difference in style between his older and younger self, though still the same friendliness and joy (see especially around the 4 1/2 minute mark in that second link). Finally, I looked up his website, and found a fascinating character. Do check it out! You can also find a few interviews on YouTube as well.

Nature Journal Share
If you enjoy nature study, you may like the Mud Puddles to Meteors blog. They also have an active Facebook group, a great place to share your nature walk finds with an appreciative audience! One fun thing Dawn just started there is the Nature Journal Share. She invites anyone in the group to post their nature journal entries on Saturdays with the tag #naturejournalshare. I anticipate that this will be an inspiring event every week. I am not a natural artist, and have been slow to get into the habit of nature journaling, though we love our nature walks here.

My share this week is a small weed...we have so many weeds I don't know the name of! I suspected that this one would have some relation to chamomile because that's what it smelled like to me. Sure enough, it's known as rayless chamomile, or wild chamomile. I think one of its other names, "pineappleweed," will stick with us, though.

And that's all for this week!