Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch...

I've been reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch by Jean Lee Latham aloud to the children before bed.  We finished it last week.

Carry On, Mr. Bowditch is the story of Nathanial Bowditch, the founder of modern maritime navigation, quite possibly a subject we may not have been interested in studying.  However, after reading another Latham book, This Dear Bought Land, we are excited to try all things Latham...and I'm so glad we did!

Nathaniel Bowditch (Nat) was an extremely intelligent man.  He is often touted as a mathematical wizard.  After his mother's death, Nat's father indentured him to a ship chandlery.  Nat was devastated as he hoped to one day go back to school, but being indentured for nine years at age twelve, he knew his dreams of education were lost.  Rather than sulk, Nat spent all his free time self educating.  He studied Latin, French, Portuguese, Spanish, and Mathematics, among other things.  I will not give away the ending, but suffice to say Nathaniel Bowditch was an inspiration and excellent role model!

We recommend Carry On, Mr. Bowditch.  It is also a TruthQuest and Sonlight recommendation.   

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Oat Bran Applesauce Muffins...

I recently tried this new recipe off the Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Cereal box for Oat Bran Applesauce Muffins...

1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 Hodgson Mill Oat Bran Cereal
1 1/2 cups unbleached white flour
1 1/2 teasp baking powder
1 1/2 teasp baking soda
1/2 teasp salt
2 eggs
1 cup applesauce, chilled
4 Tbsp vegetable oil

Preheat over to 400-degrees.  Grease 12 muffin pan.  Blend together dry ingredients. Add eggs, chilled applesauce, and oil.  Mix until well blended.  Spoon batter into muffin cups.  Let stand 10 minutes.  Bake 15 minutes or until golden brown.  Yield 12 muffins

We paired them with grapes for breakfast and the kids LOVED them!  They were very delicious.  I typically make my own applesauce so I can choose the apples and control the sugar.  With the apple harvest in full swing, these muffins make an excellent treat on cool autumn mornings.   

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Reflections on a Charlotte Mason Education...

At our last CM Study Group meeting we reflected on our Saturday morning of CM style studies.  After being led by Sonya Shafer of Simply Charlotte Mason through Natural History, Arithmetic, World History, Singing, Repetition, Writing, and Spanish, my two words for describing a CM education are "useful" and "challenging".

It occurred to me that Charlotte taught in a manner that showed each subject's usefulness in life.  For example, Natural History was studied to build a love of God's creation and our natural surroundings, as well as learning about plants, animals, birds, weather, seasons, etc.  I believe along with the study of Natural History, comes the habit of appreciation, attentiveness, creativity, and a desire to know...why are male birds more brightly colored than female?...why do leaves change color in fall?....etc.  Also, in Arithmetic we used multiplication and division to figure answers to problems relevant to our lives.  We memorized scripture for Repetition, which is certainly useful.  We copied a meaningful quote for penmanship, not just a row of a's, b's, c's, etc.  Each subject seemed to have a deeper meaning than just checking a box to get it done.  I was actually left with thoughts to ponder from the day's studies.

A CM education is also challenging.  I don't mean this in a frustrating sort of way, but in a fun sort of way.  I was challenged almost as if I were playing a game or working on a puzzle that I couldn't wait to solve or watch come to fruition.  It was a fun and meaningful challenge that left me with a positive anticipation for more.  It also left me wanting to share my excitement, such as a child with a new found treasure.

The more I learn about a Charlotte Mason education, the more I know it's right for our family.  In fact, I want to go back and relearn using Charlotte's methods...ha!  I'm so excited for this opportunity to teach and learn beside our children!

Monday, October 20, 2014

Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin...

Benjamin West and his Cat Grimalkin by Marguerite Henry is the story of a Quaker boy who has an extraordinary gift.  West grew up in 1700's Pennsylvania territory .  He could paint realistic pictures and portraits.  The problem was Quaker's viewed picture making as belonging to this world and the things of this world.

Finally Papa place the drawing on the table.  "The image of Sally should be carried in our hearts," he said, as he looked up over the rims of this spectacles.  "Not on a piece of paper.  Pictures fade; memories remain green forever."  p. 42

Henry's story delightfully tells West's boyhood story.  Benjamin West went on to become the Father of American painting.  This book is recommended by Beautiful Feet and TruthQuest. 

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Our New Project...

Introducing.....Molasses, our new Jersey calf.  You may remember that the Farmer wanted to sell the sheep so he could use the pasture for a new project....raising calves.   We came upon this little Jersey bull and I just couldn't resist!

We've had Molasses for a couple of weeks and boy is he finicky!  We are learning you can't feed Jersey calves just any old milk replacer.  We had to purchase specially formulated milk replacer for Jerseys.  Unfortunately, he's currently recovering from scours as it's difficult to figure the proper ration.  A couple years ago, I told you about Clarabelle, Riley's Jersey heifer calf that died.  We are just hoping and praying Molasses fares better.

The kids LOVE Molasses, especially Levi....

Do you have experience raising Jersey calves?  I'd love to hear about it!  Feel free to leave a comment below.

Consider This....


Have you heard?...Karen Glass's new book Consider This: Charlotte Mason and the Classical Tradition is finished!  I've been intrigued by this project for some time.  The notion of Charlotte Mason being a classical educator came to mind while reading Teaching the Trivium: Christian Homeschooling in a Classical Style by Harvey and Laurie Bluedorn.  There are definite differences between a Charlotte Mason education and a classical education.  However, since researching Charlotte's methods more in depth, I'm finding more similarities than I would have once thought.  I'm looking forward to reading Glass's book in hopes of gleaning a greater understanding of these similarities and differences. 

Find out more about "Launch Week" and sign up to win a free copy here!

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Diary of an Early American Boy....

Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane is so awesome, the kids asked for a sequel! 

While exploring an old house, Sloane discovered a small leather-bound diary written in 1805.  The diary was written by a fifteen year old boy named Noah Blake.  It was a one year account of life on his father's farm.   After researching early American life in that region, Sloane wrote Diary of an Early American Boy based on Noah's journal.  The author included original diary entries and then wrote a story around them.  The illustrations are outstanding showing many early American tools and explaining how things were done at that time. 

Diary of an Early American Boy is a Sonlight and TruthQuest recommendation that I almost skipped.  Then one day, I sat down and started reading the Author's Note and realized the treasure I held.  I started reading it aloud to the kids and we were all hooked.  We learned a great deal and highly recommend this book!!

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Changes to American Girl...for Better or Worse?

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Have you heard about the new changes to American Girl?  They've changed the historical doll outfits and created the Beforever line.   RileyAnn is quite upset.  In fact so much so, that she wrote a letter to the president of the company...

Dear American Girl,

In all due respect, I would like to tell you what I think of your new "Beforever" products.  I think that they are cheap, unauthentic, and above all I do not think that they are the highest quality that you can make.  For a long time, I believed that you put your best effort in the making of your products, but now with the launch of "Beforever", I think that you have "dumbed down" American Girl.  I think that your new "Beforever" girl outfits are very unmodest.  I also think that your new mini dolls look terrible and very cheap.  I am very sorry if I have been too negative about "Beforever".  I just thought that you would like to know my opinion.  


I don't normally blog about these sorts of cultural, current event issues.  However, I must confess, in looking through the catalog with Riley, I also was disappointed.  The historical character outfits have been changed.  They appear to reflect modern times with extremely short dresses and skirts and tank top built in shirts for the matching girl outfits.  I wonder if Pleasant Rowland, original founder of American Girl Co.,  would approve of these changes?!  I found her reasoning for creating American Girl quite interesting.  It's my belief that she created the dolls, not only to get girls interested in history, but also to fill a need for life like dolls for girls ages 8-12.

As a mom of a tween, I always appreciated the modest innocence of American Girl.  In addition, Riley learned so much about American History at a very young age from simply reading the books.  She knew most of the major time periods and could associate many happenings.  She actually taught me, ha!

I'm sure the change was a marketing ploy, but I wonder if they upset the integrity of American Girl by making the change?  I'd love to hear your thoughts....

UPDATE...RileyAnn received a lovely letter back from AG.  She realizes her opinion is that of a perch in the ocean.  However, she still felt the need to express her thoughts.  

Monday, October 6, 2014

A Charlotte Mason Morning of Study...

Our Charlotte Mason Study Group met Saturday morning to participate in SCM Learning and Living DVD's 7 & 8.  We studied Natural History (Science); Arithmetic w/Drill; World History; Music/Singing; Repetition (Scripture Memory); Writing (Copywork); and Spanish.  It was a great experience in which to participate. 

Some comments from participants were, "We have really been dumbed down!"..."I feel inadequate teaching this."..."I feel ripped off that I didn't have this type of education."  It was quite interesting.  Overall, I believe everyone enjoyed it and found it very beneficial.   

I feel the most difficult part of a Charlotte Mason education for me as a participant was narration.  Because of distractions, I often have to read and re read passages several times to get the gist of it, especially with classic or older literature and in a room full of people...apparently, I have a poor "habit of attention".    I find that because I'm accustomed to reading so much aloud to the children, I have better comprehension reading aloud.  This is awkward and not practical in a room full of people.  I can definitely see starting with small passages with beginning narrators and working up.

I'm looking forward to meeting again this Friday to reflect on our learning experience!    

Friday, October 3, 2014

Beautiful Feet American and World Modern History for Intermediate Grades

I am so excited to learn that Beautiful Feet has created a follow-up to their Early American History for Intermediate Grades guide!! 

We started using the EAH last year to cover America's Discovery and Settlement; Colonial & Pre-Revolutionary America; and The American Revolution.  I used the guide as an accompaniment to our TruthQuest American History for Young Students I study.  

This year, I'm continuing the EAH BF guide, covering The Louisiana Purchase and The Civil War.  This time period is the same as TQ AHYS II, 1800-1865. 

Next year, I can use the NEW BF American and World guide alongside TQ AHYS III, covering 1865 to modern times.

Now, I must tell you, both TruthQuest and Beautiful Feet are totally stand alone programs and do not need supplementation!! However, I am a self proclaimed curriculum junkie ;-)  I love to pull from, combine, and create my own program to match the learning styles of our kiddos. 

Last year, I used TQ as my spine and supplemented with BF.  This year, after a difficult summer, I became overwhelmed with the planning.  Therefore, I decided to use BF as my spine and supplement with TQ.  They are both AWESOME programs and you really can't go wrong with either one!  I find most, if not all, the BF books are listed in the TQ guides. 

I recognize many of the titles in the NEW BF A&W guide and have most on our shelves, some being Sonlight books.  As you can see from the photo above, my BF EAH guide is an older one.  It does not use A Child's First Book of American History so I'm wondering how it will match up with the new A&W guide.  Looking at the book titles, there may be some overlap, but that's OK.  We can either by pass a section or chalk it up as review.  Either way, I'm super excited to see the new BF guide! 

You can read more about it on the BF Blog here.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

The Story of Eli Whitney

I had no idea Eli Whitney was such a fascinating man!!  We just finished reading The Story of Eli Whitney by Jean Lee Latham.  The book tells of Eli's life from childhood through adulthood.

After a late start to college by 1700's standards, Eli graduated from Yale.  After college, he traveled to Georgia, where he met Catherine Greene, Revolutionary Hero Gen. Nathanael Greene's widow.  Ms. Greene and her plantation manager, Phineas Miller, persuaded Eli to manufacture a cotton engine (gin).  With the delay of the cotton gin's patent due to the Yellow Fever epidemic that hit Philadelphia, our nation's capital at that time, folks were pirating Eli's invention.   Once the patent finally came, Eli fought and lost over sixty infringement battles before finally securing the rights only a short time before the patent expired.

In the interim, he obtained a government contract to mass produce interchangeable parts for muskets. Though there was a delay in the completion of the order, Eli was able to eventually successfully meet the contract.  According to the story, Whitney's interest in muskets stemmed from a childhood friendship with a man killed in the Revolutionary War because of a broken musket hammer.  I'm thinking that part of the story may be fictional, but I couldn't confirm it one way or another.  

Due to his dedication to engineering, Eli married late in life.   The Story of Eli Whitney ends after Eli's marriage and the birth of his first child.  I was so enthralled by Latham's book that I did a little further research only to find that Eli died at age 59 of prostate cancer, leaving his widow with four young children. 

Throughout his life, Whitney rubbed elbows with a number of prominent people, including Thomas Jefferson.  Latham describes one scene in the book where Whitney is in the Executive Building in Washington.  He has conversation with Meriweather Lewis, Jefferson's secretary.  Both Jefferson and Lewis reference the Louisiana Purchase.  However, Whitney doesn't put two and two together until a time later.   

The Story of Eli Whitney helped me make many historical connections.  Latham portrayed Whitney as a kind, generous, hardworking genius.   It appears he is also a great role model.  I highly recommend this book!