We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand. ~Isaiah 64:8

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Art Resource: Roman Artifacts from the Louvre on tour

Roman artifacts from the Louvre will be in Oklahoma City for their final stop in the states from June 19th - Oct 12th. Even if you can't attend the website has some good educational downloads, online info, videos, and 40 or so of the 184 pieces for you to view online.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Book Review: The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Who would have thought poor punctuation and plodding prose could be so absorbing? But in Cormac McCarthy’s book The Road it is. Don’t be misled, the poor punctuation and plodding prose are not mistakes, but techniques which convey the mood of the story in The Roadand enhance the story-telling. And while the story lumbers along, McCarthy’s poetic descriptions of a post-apocalyptic landscape gives one the sense of walking along with the father and son protagonists.

The setting is America after some great catastrophe which has left behind an entirely scorched, physically and psychologically, land. Very few people have survived and those that have struggle to survive both the environment which is utterly devastated and the roaming bands of marauders.

The father and son slowly make their way to the coast where they hope to find … Hope. They don’t know what the form of that Hope will be, but their love for each other keeps them moving.

Within the story, McCarthy’s simplistic third-person, prose style is so (I hate to use the term) monotonous (in a good way!) that when he alters this style (switching briefly to the 1st person in one scene and in others using an almost poetic style) he draws attention to particular parts of the story. These parts are so entirely different they almost scream out from the page.

Here’s an example. Imagine pages and pages (180 to be exact) of this:

They went through the last of the cars and then walked up the track to the locomotive and climbed up to the catwalk. Rust and scaling paint. They pushed in to the cab and he blew away the ash from the engineer’s seat and put the boy at the controls. The controls were very simple. Little to do but push the throttle lever forward. He made train noises and diesel horn noises but he wasnt (sic) sure what these might mean to the boy. After a while they just looked out through the silted glass to where the track curved away in the waste of weeds. If they saw different worlds what they knew was the same. That the train would sit there slowly decomposing for all eternity and that no train would ever run again.

Can we go, Papa?
Yes. Of course we can.”

(Then it launches into this – the first of a handful of these poetic moments)

They began to come upon from time to time small cairns of rock by the roadside. They were signs in gypsy language, lost patterns. The first he’d seen in some while, common in the north, leading out of the looted and exhausted cities, hopeless messages to loved ones lost and dead. By then all the stores of food had given out and murder was everywhere upon the land…the cities themselves held by cores of blackened looters who tunneled among the ruins and crawled from the rubble white of tooth and eye carrying charred and anonymous tins of food in nylon nets like shoppers in the commissaries of hell. The soft black talc blew through the streets like squid ink uncoiling along a sea floor and the cold crept down and the dark came early and the scavengers passing down the steep canyons with their torches trod silky holes in the drifted ash that closed behind them silently as eyes. Out on the roads the pilgrims sank down and fell over and died and the bleak and shrouded earth went trundling past the sun and returned again as trackless and as unremarked as the path of any nameless sisterworld in the ancient dark beyond.”

Then back to the simple prose for another 80 or so pages. Does that make the simple prose sound boring? It really isn't - the characters and the story are remarkable!

There are some distressing scenes in this book, so be warned. The food has run out in this world and you can imagine the result.

But there is good and hope and redemption even in this most evil, hopeless, and lost world. Truth and beauty have somehow managed to stay alive in the hearts of some; the father and son call it "the fire", I call it faith.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From my Commonplace Book - June 25th

Last night I read a thought-provoking article from the blog Mere Orthodoxy entitled "Music and the Soul". I'm not going to elucidate too much mostly because I've not had time to really give this more thought than that I want to think about it (how do you like that...I've thought that I want to think - that's sheer brilliance right there), and also because it is almost kiddies' bedtime, but I am curious what some of you might think.

Here are the entries I made into my Commonplace Book from this post....

...human beings have generally lost the perception that we live in a hierarchical universe...(a hierarchy of the Holy Spirit, one's own spirit, the mind [thinking, feelings, will], and the body).

...human beings today do not first respond by asking questions about their spirit or thinking, but mostly always about their emotional and states of will.

Everything is reduced to the level of the ordinary...defined principally in terms of states of feeling and will. - the above was quoted in the post from a Dr. Overman.

From the rest of the article:

Christian love...enables men to think of themselves as something other than a bundle of emotive staes and corresponding impulses; it restores the dignity of being a spirit-and-flesh being in communion with God.

Rather than viewing worship as being an emotional expression, and limiting one's self to emotive music devoid of intellectual and spiritual expressions, the Christian ought to respond to God with the totality of his being.

When it comes to the music that we use to worship God, then, we must not first ask ourselves, "What kind of music do I like?"...but rather, "What music best expresses the full heart of a complete human being to God?

...starting with the question, "What does it mean to be human?" and then moving from this answer to explore the sorts of music most appropriate to human beings in communication with God is a far cry from the common complaint that certain forms of music don't arouse our emotions...

I didn't add this to my Commonplace entry, but I loved how the author ended the article:

The answer to this question might also leave everybody a bit surprised—the hymnodists as well as the hip members of your church praise and worship team.

So, what does it mean to be a human and how do we then answer the question, "What then should we sing?"

June 25th - Update

Well, we are still waiting. Why do I think this might be the first line of many, many posts in the future? :)

Maybe I should try to switch it up a bit:

hang around
kill time
hang on
hold my horses
twiddle my thumbs
idle away the hours
You'd be surprised how hard that last one is -especially in this adoption process when most of the control is entirely out of your hands. Entirely.
So, the update... Erik's fingerprints were re-printed Friday, June 20th and mailed those to Maryland on Tuesday, June 24th. The new set had some slight smears on it, but we had no choice but to send them anyway. PRAY they'll be good enough. And we corrected the mistake with the Money Order and resent that to Virginia. Pray that will be processed quickly. We are still waiting on:

VA -Child Abuse Registry: resubmitted; waiting for processing
NC -Criminal History: still waiting
MD-Criminal History: Erik's resubmitted; waiting for processing and Child Abuse Registry: still waiting
Pray for our perseverance...and for the Lord's blessing on each of those outstanding pieces of our background checks to be speedily processed.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Art Resource: Master Photographers

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York is featuring two photography exhibits this summer:

Framing a Century: Master Photographers 1840-1940 now through Sept. 1st and Photography on Photography: Reflections on the Medium since 1960 now through Oct. 1st. Both exhibits offer images for online vieweing.

You might also enjoy some of the links the Met suggests for photography. Here are some I found particularly interesting:

Friday, June 20, 2008

Weekly Reporter: June 16th-20th

Our summer schedule had some bumps and jostles the past couple of weeks, so we are finding ourselves "punting" quite a bit. (MiL had unexpected surgery which meant no trip with eldest son and hubby spent a week at her house helping her. Then I had a 3-day, all day class - which was planned, but harder on our family than expected.) So, after two weeks of "just trying to get by" we are slowly getting back on track.

We are planning on taking all of July off, but I do have some work to do the next couple of weeks with my eldest - mostly Math. And there are some lessons I want to do with the kids that I'll keep doing even when we are "off" (mostly art).

This we accomplished:
  • The first lesson of our art appreciation unit;
  • A Saxon math placement test (to see what the eldest son needs to work on before we move him up to 8/7 next year);
  • Eldest son tried his hand at making a cheesecake;
  • Youngest daughter spent lots of time drawing pictures of Jesus, her feet, flowers, etc.;
  • We went on a nice long nature walk;
  • Built a few forts;
  • Eldest son finished reading "War of the Worlds" and then we watched the movie (I enjoyed the movie's message about technology, humanity, and fatherhood, but be warned there is some cursing - and some of the imagery might be disturbing to some children.)
  • Middle son has started the read-aloud "Gentle Ben" with his Dad.
How was your homeschool or summer school week?

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Art Resource: My Lesson Plan for French Impressionism

Would you like to have a ready-made lesson plan to study French Impressionism in your homeschool? I put this together using the National Gallery of Art's FREE Loaner: "Picturing France", an educator's resource packet. (Scroll down that page to order the entire packet including prints, slides, a CD and the book - it is free, you only have to pay for the return postage.)

Here's a photo of my daughter enjoying the first day of Unit 1 from my French Impressionism lesson plan. She decided she wanted to try drawing a picture like Pissaro's:

From the lesson plan, we talked about how point of view can change a scene. We experimented with this using our dining room:

We also talked about the details of the painting, the color and lighting, how we'd change the picture to make it look like afternoon, how the street might look different if it were painted from a diferent angle, and what would be different if the painting was done today.

Let me know if you download the lesson plan...and what you think of it! (If you have any trouble downloading, leave me a comment and I'll be happy to email it to you.)

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

More Pacing...

We are still waiting for the various background checks to be completed. Have I mentioned I am not a good waiter? Nope - never have been, never will be. The only good thing is I've been kept VERY busy the past couple of weeks, so I haven't had time to dwell.

Here's where we stand:

VA -
Criminal History: received!
Child Abuse Registry: resubmitted - we did not fill out the Money Order correctly. Still waiting

NC -
Criminal History: still waiting
Child Abuse Registry: received!

Criminal History: received Kerry's; Erik's has to be resubmitted with new fingerprints (his were slightly smeared and computer couldn't read. Hmmm, "CSI" makes it look so easy!)
Child Abuse Registry: still waiting

Pray for quick processing and even quicker postal service! And of course for our fortitude. :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Art Resource: Online Art History Timeline

Here is a very useful tool to help you bring Art History into your homeschool from the Metropolitan Museum of Art - a Timeline of Art History. This website is SO much more than just a timeline, however. You'll find:
  • A great map which shows the progression of art across the world. At a glance, you can see what types of art was being produced in across the continents and centuries.
  • Pages showing the art of a particular time period and across cultures. (ie. you can see all the types of art being produced in the 16th century from Asia to Africa)
  • As well as pages showing the art of a particular culture across the centuries.
  • Thematic essays on subjects from "Chinese Hand Scrolls" to "The Labors of Hercules" to "The Bauhaus".

This website would make a great research resource for the older student as well as you, the teacher!

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Spinach Quiche

We are still getting greens, including spinach, here in North Carolina. In fact, I had a couple pounds in my outside fridge getting mighty close to being seaweed. I needed to use it and QUICK!

I determined to use it in quiche, but not having time or the inclination to make a bunch of pie crust, I opted for a different approach. Instead of making the whole quiche, I mixed up the filling and just froze that. Now, when I'm ready for quiche all I have to do is thaw the filling, pour into a fresh crust, and bake!

So here's the recipe I used:
4 eggs
1 c half and half
4 c. of fresh spinach
1/2 c of swizz cheese, grated
salt and pepper to taste
Slightly wilt spinach by steaming for 5 minutes. Squeeze out any excess water. Cool slightly.Whisk eggs until blended, then add half and half and whisk further. Stir in cheese and spinach. Pour mixture into freezer bag (this is easiest if you set your bag in a deep bowl). Squeeze out excess air and lay on a flat surface to freeze. (I put my bags onto a cookie sheet and put that in the freezer.

Once frozen I removed the cookie sheet and the bags are flat and store nicely.) I made 3 batches of this and can't wait to try it out!What are some of your favorite spinach recipes?

Art Resource: Botanical artist

Maria Sybilla Merian was a botanical artist of the 17th century. This online exhibit might be a fun tie-in with your own Nature Study or biology class.

Art Resource: Lesson Plans from The Getty

The Getty Museum has a whole page of lesson plans that play off various themes in art. From Heroes of Mythology to Scenes from the Headlines to ESL Enrichment. Most of the lesson plans have plans for all sorts of age ranges!

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Being a patient pacer

We are at a bit of a stand-still here as we wait for all our criminal history and child abuse registry checks to come back from VA, MD, and NC. Here's where we are:

VA -
Criminal History: received!
Child Abuse Registry: waiting

NC -
Criminal History: waiting
Child Abuse Registry: received!

Criminal History: waiting
Child Abuse Registry: waiting

2 down, 4 to go.

These are all new requirements for the homestudy to be submitted with the I800a. So, if you are starting an adoption in a Hague country go ahead and send off for this stuff before your homestudy (or during). Check with your agency for more details.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Art Appreciation Resource: Online Tour - Frescoes

The National Gallery of Art has an online tour this month of the ONLY examples of Italian Renaissance frescoes in America. If you can't get there to see them, here's the next best thing!Each frescoe has an accompanying narrative (the set is a series telling the story of Cephalus and Procris from Greek mythology) as well as other background information.

Interested in a different online tour? Here's their list of available tours.

The NGA website is an absolute goldmine of resources. Spend some time digging around and you'll be amazed at what you find!