The Dutch Rush

they're Dutch...and life's a rush

Category: Education

A School Day

School is back.  I was going to write about it on the first day, but that feels like a long time ago.

There is currently a can of cheddar cheese Pringles in our pantry.  It explains a lot about last week.  I could have been talked into just about anything at the point that I was talked into buying CHEDDAR CHEESE PRINGLES.  Yuck.

It is hard for me to express what goes on around here…it’s hilarious. Sometimes I realize that we are a sort of crude.  But come on, a pastor’s family has to TRY to be so proper when we leave the house, we have to get our insanity out somewhere…

Anyhow.  That really wasn’t where I was going with this.

I keep thinking about this idea:

Teachers must teach from a flowing stream, and not from a stagnant pool.

I love that line and what it suggests about the responsibility of the teacher.

You can read the whole thought here.

So today.  It had the feel of a flowing stream.  So many ideas to ponder.  It refreshes my tired brain to think deeper thoughts than my own.  It lifts my spirits to laugh with my kids while we work with our felted wool.  Hey, don’t mock, it’s an art project.  We made several things that reminded us of  Dr. Seuss characters, but we are pretty good at putting out some fine balls…much laughing.  We were all so soapy, I couldn’t take pictures, but I took a picture in my head.  And I thought about the fact that I only get to hang out with these precious people for part of their lives.

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That thing in the back is a raindrop. Trust me.

We worked in our Science notebooks.  Each child may choose what to draw from things we are currently studying in Science.  We are studying Gregor Mendel, who made a famous genetics discovery.  His patience with his work was striking, and he died before they discovered the significance of his work.  One child drew Mendel’s genetics chart from the book.  Another child is meticulously drawing the Periodic Table.  For fun.  There was a ruler involved.  I was impressed.  I would never have thought of using a ruler.  Another child drew Ursa Major, since we are also studying the constellations.

That took about an hour.  We call it “The meeting of the Idiots”, it happens once a week in the afternoon, and is accompanied by drinking soda (a rare event), and sometimes we listen to The Piano Guys.  Josh lost it when Darth Vader started playing the accordion. Lost it.  There was snot and soapy water everywhere.  If you have not watched The Piano Guys on youtube, I recommend watching their Star Wars song, preferably with an 8 year old.

Alyssa and I are reading David Copperfield.  So many bad decisions, so much sadness.  Lots to think about. In another book we have been reading about Gypsies, and how they have been treated.  I had no idea.  It led us on a internet search of gypsy homes.  Which of course led my mind to the gypsy wagon that Toad fitted out in Wind in the Willows.  Josh and I are reading about the founding of the Feudal System and the injustice that the Serfs suffered.  He gets a little fired up over that, as he does about most injustice.  Joel and I began Secrets of the Woods.  He would like to live in the country.

The kids and I are reading our second full Shakespeare play together.  Naturally, it would be The Taming of the Shrew.  We laugh a lot while we read Shakespeare.  Josh can now read a line or two with us, and that adds to the general hilarity of the time.  My favorite lines of what we read today:

And if the boy have not a woman’s gift

to rain a shower of commanded tears,

an onion will do well for such a shift

Oh really?  Commanded tears?  How dare you, Shakespeare?!!

Joel’s dictation today was about John Smith:

Many of the unruly sort were glad to see him go, but his old companions with whom he had shared so many dangers and privations were filled with grief.  “He ever hated baseness, sloth, pride and indignity,” said one of them.  “He never allowed more for himself than for his soldiers with him.  Upon no danger would he send them where he would not lead them himself.  He would never see us want what he either had or could by any means get us.  He loved action more than words, and hated falsehood and covetousness worse than death.”                                                          – This Country of Ours by Marshall

So we now know what privations are…(after I looked it up).

I love this quote for several reasons.  Mostly because it reminds me that this is the kind of man I married and is part of what makes him such a good leader.  It gives my son good things to think about as he goes off to play for the afternoon.  It also gives me ideas to think about as I go off to work for the afternoon.  Flowing streams, not stagnant pools.  It was a good day.

Project week might kill me.

I had an amazing idea this summer to do a “project week” after every six weeks of school. (Yes, I will still get all of my weeks in…have no fear)

So.

I was thinking it would be a great change of pace from our normal schedule each day. I would let the kids choose their own projects to do while I was off getting things back on track.

I have the best intentions.

But somewhere  in my head the warning bells started going off a few days before the first project week began. They started when I reviewed my list of all the important things I was going to get done in a week, and the people I was going to have over since I don’t have time to invite them on a normal week. Here is a small bit of what I planned or fell into:

1. Get in shape. Duh. Of course that would only happen on project week.

2. Make Alyssa’s curtains (I don’t sew, but I am trying to save money, and besides, how hard could a straight line be?) (hard).

3. Wash all sheets (this is my quarterly sheet bonanza). Just kidding. Sort of.

4. Hem the boys curtains that have been three inches uneven for past two and a half years. Use the hot glue gun if necessary. (it was necessary)

5. Have a bunch of people over, cook for them, but be sure to schedule a meeting with someone else three hours before those other people come over, and then cook for the 2 hrs in between that while I have my other friend over for a little visit.

6. Keel over.

7. Start a different sewing project, because yes, I can sew in a straight line apparently.

8. Have more friends over for dinner.

9. Sit and stare at the wall.

10. Wash 25 loads of laundry, but don’t fold any of it.

The kids meanwhile had an excellent week. They finished a few books, made things, wrote stories, and generally stayed out of my way…because they can see that crazy look in my eye a mile away. They were in bliss.

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Josh is studying the Wright Brothers, and decided to make their plane. He looked at three different books to try to be accurate.

Anyway.

Fast forward to this “project” week.

I made my list of important things to do…checked it twice and promptly got sick.

It was some stupid virus that made even the very simplest of activities seem like wading through cement.

So, in this situation, naturally, I made bread. Then went to bed, then did laundry, and went to bed. Then made some awful thing to eat and went back to bed.

You can see I’ve gotten a lot done this week.

Tuesday was monumental in the fact that I got myself to Walmart and the grocery store before we had our semi-annual county wide power outage.

I hate being sick AND being in Walmart.

I look at stupid things for a very long time. I’ll stand looking at hair nets, or nose rings, or car batteries until I catch someone looking at me out of the corner of my eye (I have terrible eyesight, but incredible peripheral vision that only comes after years of living with Michael)…then I stumble on to whatever else I was suppose to be buying. It’s horrible.

Then I got home and was unpacking the bags in the semi-dark (cloudy day, power outage), and ran into the freezer door. With my nose.

So I went back to bed.

The kids on the other hand are having an excellent week. They have read books, written letters, eaten way too much sugar, gone hiking, made things, made messes, cleaned up messes. They love project week.

By yesterday…I was well enough to write a letter to my friend (I think we were BFFs before that was a thing), make the famous “Fall” cookies, or I should say I watched the making of fall cookies, since we have a resident baker now…

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100_2618100_2622I also managed to make an even more awful dinner than the previously mentioned one. After taking a gander at the crock pot, Michael was just too sweet, and suggested a quick trip to Burger King. Helpful Man.

But. I bounce back…like a jack rabbit.

(Sorry, got a rap song stuck in my head. It seems to be the favored music around here. And since there are music devices in most rooms of the house, my brain gets parts of Brandon Heath, Crazy frog and Lecrae turned into one song…I actually think the jack rabbit line isn’t in any of those I just mentioned.)

Which brings us to today…I made a list. I’m feeling pretty victorious. Because I got out of bed and…

Clipped my nails. Yeah. It was on the list. SO?

Why is it so hard to remember to clip nails? Maybe it’s just me.

Then, I wiped down all of those white cupboard doors in the kitchen in a systematic way, which is so not like me. I’m terribly impressed that I wiped them in order, because it is my tendency to get a little distracted and forget where I was…and then it really doesn’t look any better because I skipped every other cupboard.

I have just been informed that Josh and the cat have caught a mouse in a great collaborative effort. Wonderful. It has been named Tiny and is snacking on some moldy cheddar that the kids found in the fridge.

I really should clean out the fridge.

Anyhow. Hope this makes someone feel like they’ve had an extremely productive week.

Have a great weekend!

You probably shouldn’t read this…

…if you’re not interested in God, or you’re not a fan of home education, or maybe if you’re sick of the Beuvings…or whatever.

I decided that instead of whining about another month of the sick, and other boring things, I’d talk about something more interesting. (In my opinion)

I’m not sure why my priorities are always getting out of order. It’s so weird. I go along and my priorities are all lined up where I can see them, and I keep an eye on them and then I turn around for one minute and wham. They are gone.

Like a group of toddlers at the park.

(that is always a nightmare situation for me: watching someone else’s small children and my own at a park or other large open space where they of course get lost…please note if you are reading this and are worried because I have watched your children, at least they are still alive, right?!)

Anyway. Priorities.

God. Husband. Kids. Taking a shower. Eating. School. (getting dressed is implied…of course to get dressed, you generally have to have clean clothes which is a real bummer now that the laundry has rotated back to me).

I really should have pulled back to regroup weeks ago. But sometimes we just keep going till we can’t handle it anymore. One of my favorite books puts it so well. I think of this often:

“Sometimes life IS too hard and we go down…for that is real life…it is also real life to find a way to go on”.

I don’t like to write when life is hard. It’s a real downer, and everyone else also has their own complicated problems which are probably a lot worse than mine.

So. Since school is pretty high up there on my list of priorities, I decided it was time to get serious. I had kind of eased back into it during January. Not sure why I always think that’s a good idea. It wasn’t. The work is so much harder with all of our books, but so much more joyful and interesting, challenging and inspiring. To them and to me. It has been so good for us to have all of these ideas to chew on.

I read awhile ago that one of our top priorities in home education (as Christians) should be memorizing scripture together. So I tried it. No, that’s not all we do, and that isn’t the most time consuming subject or anything, don’t freak out! But there is something to saying those verses all together every day. Looking into those little faces, realizing how we fail each other as we are saying those words “Love is patient, love is kind…it is not easily angered, it makes no record of wrongs…” Wow. The Word of God convicts. We don’t even need to preach a sermon to each other. Just saying those words. It goes deep into our hearts. It has the power to teach, train and correct…me. As the teacher. I just can’t say those words with my kids when my heart is wrong. Sometimes we pray a minute first. 😉 So someone can get her priorities straight.

Memorizing seems to go right along with other things to think deeply about so this year I took the plunge and started Pilgrim’s Progress. I started very tentatively, meaning with a very abridged copy, reading twice a week. And then they wanted to read more often. And then I went through a month of real doubt and stopped reading it at all, but they kept asking when we were going to read it again…or saying things like “so Mom, when his pack fell off at the cross, there wasn’t a very good description of what happened”, etc, etc, etc.

I figured, okay, fine. You want to read this, we’ll read it.

UNABRIDGED.

Holy smokes. They love it. Now granted, we read about two pages a day with many explanations (some of which I do not understand myself, a sort of the blind leading the blind exercise).

But they are thinking. I love that. Today we read two pages. It was about “Talkative”…who talked a good talk and was able to convince one of the travelers that he was a follower of Christ, until someone who had actually known him in his hometown spoke up to mention 1. he really is a bad man 2. who is a smooth talker, 3. many people have wandered from their faith because of him. (I have condensed half a page here) This reminded us of all kinds of things (that I won’t bore you with), it quoted a few verses in James that two of us had just been talking about, and it reminded us that we know of people who have turned away from God on account of smooth talkers whose lives deny their faith.

Very quickly, (for their sake, I want to let them think big thoughts but leave them wanting more, not wishing we had finished twenty minutes ago), we finish up with one of those biographies of great men and women who have loved God. Right now that happens to be C.S. Lewis. I wish you could all see the BIG eyes, and hear the amazement when I read that he met and was friends with J.R.R. Tolkien. WHOA. Of course Josh right away started speaking with a British accent because that is how he has heard the name Tolkien on the Lord of the Rings audio book.

And then they went outside. To yell, and scream, and be in the sunshine.

Because that is what I would want to do if I had just listened to someone read serious things to me while I sat very still.

No, that is not all we did in school today.

Speaking of priorities, this is a favorite quote that reminds me often of the great responsibility I have as a parent:

“Let us save Christianity for our children by bringing them into allegiance to Christ the King. How? How did the old Cavaliers bring up sons and daughters, in passionate loyalty and reverence for not too worthy princes? Their own hearts were full of it, their lips spake it; their acts proclaimed it; the style of their clothes, the ring of their voices, the carriage of their heads- all was one proclamation of boundless devotion to their king and his cause…what shall we say of ‘the Chief amongst ten thousand and altogether lovely’?”

– Charlotte Mason

100_2281I know, Christmas is over, but I like this one. (If you click on the picture, you’ll see it close up)

Brazilian Wax Palm

Doesn’t that just sound…important and exotic?  I keep seeing these cool palm trees around town.  But when I bring up the topic of Brazilian Wax Palm…well.  Eyes begin to roll and then possibly glaze over.  Even Michael, my enthusiastic Partner in Crime begins to yawn.  Or he starts to smile kindly at me which might be worse.  I haven’t decided yet.

But it turns out that it is just some sort of fan palm, not a Brazilian Wax Palm as it were.  Unfortunately, I have a bad habit of continuing to call something the wrong thing, just for fun.  Or because I like the way it sounds.  Some adults in my life who have OCD do not appreciate this phenomenon.  I guess that is not their idea of a good time.  But when you stay at home for a profession…with children… you have to make fun up as you go.

Last summer I finally got around to ordering my 887 page “Handbook of Nature Study”.  It’s a sturdy book.  In fact, it’s huge.  My Brother-in-law smirks at how large it is and how he would never read it. (He probably also secretly wonders if I’ve finally lost it, for good this time).  Back in 1911 when it was first published, people must have been more accustomed to carrying around 887 pages.  I would think lugging that book around would generally be frowned on these days.  But really, they don’t talk like this anymore.

” Out in this, God’s beautiful world, there is everything waiting to heal lacerated nerves, to strengthen tired muscles, to please and content the soul that is torn to shreds with duty and care.  To the teacher who turns to nature’s healing, nature-study in the school-room is not a trouble; it is a sweet, fresh breath of air blown across the heat of radiators and the noisome odor of overcrowded small humanity.  She who opens her eyes and her heart nature-ward even once a week finds nature-study in the schoolroom a delight and an abiding joy.  What does such a one find in her schoolroom instead of the terrors of discipline, the eternal watching and eternal nagging to keep the pupils quiet and at work?  She finds first of all companionship with her children; and second, she finds that without planning or going on a far voyage she has found health and strength”.   -Anna Botsford Comstock

Ahh, I even feel peaceful just reading that.

” Noisome odor of overcrowded small humanity…”  What a perfect line!  And yeah, far voyages can be quite overrated!  I get so inspired to GET OUTSIDE, and my kids are benefiting.  Because I say they are.  No, they are.  They think so too. 😉

palm

On a side note, imagine my dismay to talk to the lady at Lowes this week and be told in no uncertain terms that what I am actually referring to is a Mexican Fan Palm.  So sad.  So disappointing.  I’m still getting over it.

December School

December school… as you can see, it’s cold enough to wear gloves when we are outside!  To anyone in Washington, I’m sorry.  It’s beautiful here!

This girl is lovely, and spunky, and fun.  I think you can tell 😉

We had exams last week.  In a way that maybe no one will understand, it was fun!  They are learning!  Whew.  I saw and heard things that made me happy. 🙂 These kids are just a delight to teach (most days…I mean we all have our days).  Okay, enough about that.

Now…we are doing December school. This is where we go insane, randomly stare out the window, mutter to ourselves about mailing presents and writing the Christmas letter, finish projects, books, or what have you, that I don’t want to drag into our next term.

We finished Corrie Ten Boom.  I heard this: “NO.  I can’t believe it’s over.  That is the best book I’ve ever listened to.  Can I keep this book for my own? ”  (I am not making this up, they all felt that way.)  That lady…we were amazed at the hardships she faced bravely.  I got teary every time I read the quote by her dying sister Betsie ” You must tell them (all people, not the least of all, their enemies the Nazis) ‘There is no pit so deep that God’s love is not deeper ‘ “.   Uh huh.  My faith is wimpy.

This is what Josh does on his breaks: Bear pulley

 

Pretends to be a Star Nosed Mole, like the one he saw in the National Geographic that freaked him out and maybe gave him nightmares. Or not, I really am not allowed to say.

 

We also go on Nature walks.  And bring stuff home.  To look at, to draw, and to trip over.

 

 

This particular walk involved identifying Turkey Vultures UP CLOSE, (yikes) getting mom to break off a branch of red berries “Mom, did you bring your scissors?”  Me: “Contrary to what you might think about me, I do NOT always carry a pair of scissors.”  In breaking the branch off, I poked an impressively perfect hole in my finger.  One child kept asking to look at the hole and would then get the shivers. 🙂  I love him.

 

My hope for December school was to slow down.  To take a minute to look and think and wonder about the miracle of this time of year.  So far, not good.  The slowing down part.  Oh well, we think as we go.  We are memorizing Luke 2 right now.  It has some good lines.  “And she was GREAT with Child…” that cracks them up.

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