Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Classical Conversations Cycle 1, Weeks 1-2

Our family reads a lot of books, but we will not be using every book listed each week. Many of these we previewed over the summer or the 3 years ago when we first went through Cycle 1. Additionally, we get many of our books from our library, but I have linked to Amazon for additional details about each book. If you choose to purchase any of these books, consider using my links, as we do get a small percentage from each purchase! Many of these books are great for multiple weeks this cycle, and so we use them beyond the listed week, particularly for subjects that are favorites of my children.


Exodus by Brian Wildsmith -- A retelling of the Exodus, including the 10 Commandments. Beautiful illustrations.

Encyclopedia Mythologica: Gods and Heroes Pop-Up by Reinhart and Sabuda -- This is such a fun book to look through (we have several pop-up books by this duo).

DK Eyewitness Books: Ancient Civilizations -- A great overview of the ancient world with lots of pictures and interesting notes to read.

The One-Stop Bible Atlas (One-Stop series) -- A visual tool for placing Biblical locations on the map.

Follow the Line Around the World -- This book takes you to different countries around the world and features a maze-like line to follow continuously from cover to cover.

When on Earth? -- A great supplement to geography and timeline. This is on my to-buy list as well.

Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska -- This over-sized book is beautifully drawn and a pleasure to look through as an adult as well as for children.

Walk This World -- This lift-the-flap book takes you on a journey around the world. Can you guess the different countries from the visual clues?

Nature Anatomy: The Curious Parts and Pieces of the Natural World -- A favorite book for us over the last several weeks. My daughter even took it on a hike so that she could identify different plants from the lovely illustrations. This is one I am buying because it is a book we will use forever.

How Flowers Grow -- A simple introduction to plants and flowers, but perfect for little ones to read to themselves.

Fall Walk -- Each page features a close-up of a different leaf.

Before After -- This wordless book is full of "before and after" drawings. One page shows an acorn; the next shows the oak tree. Beautifully illustrated.

Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle -- We aren't learning specifically about the water cycle, but the topic fits in nicely with biology (and weather week 22).

Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reverso Poems -- We love this book! Each poem is written forwards and backwards. It's a great visual and verbal compliment to the study of mirror images.

Ed Emberley's Drawing Book of Animals -- Simple instructions for drawing a variety of animals. Great to reinforce OiLs.

20 Ways to Draw a Tree and 44 Other Nifty Things from Nature: A Sketchbook for Artists, Designers, and Doodlers -- More simple drawings, this time centered on objects in nature. Great supplement to the nature hikes and studies.

Draw Write Now Book 2: Christopher Columbus, Autumn Harvest, Weather -- Step-by-Step instructions for drawing fall themed pictures. Other books in this series also cover other geography and animals from around the world.

Learn to Draw Insects: Step-by-Step Instructions for 26 Creepy Crawlies -- Great for basic drawing techniques and perfect tie-in with science.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014


Fall seems to be the prime time for having family pictures taken. The weather is still nice enough that you don’t need to be completely bundled to be outside, and family pictures make great Christmas gifts. Plus, these annual photos are such a fun way to measure the physical growth of our children. Look how much you’ve grown since last fall!

Our family is no stranger to the fall family photo phenomenon. This year even the kids were excited. They knew that the new pictures we planned to take would replace their old ones on the wall, and they were even excited about the outfits we chose for them to wear. I was excited too; this year would be an easy one for pictures, especially compared to last year when we were in the process of saying goodbye to our foster son.

The day before our photo session Will came down with a brief illness. It wasn’t bad, but he was under the weather enough to take a nap that afternoon, something that never happens anymore. But the nap also threw his sleeping off, and he was up before 5:30 the morning of our pictures. Which naturally meant he fell asleep in the car an hour before our pictures. And so it follows that when we woke him to get ready for the photo shoot he was not in a good mood, and there wasn’t much anyone could do about it. The short ride to our photo location we spent prepping Will and Emma with bribes incentives for cooperation and smiles, but to no avail. Surely he’d snap out of it once we started taking pictures. Surely he wouldn’t cry the entire photo session. Surely not, because look at our cute outfits! We are a happy family!

Not only did he cry for the entire time, but no promised incentive (gum! donut for breakfast! you get to pick a movie to watch! play in the leaves!), no amount of prayer with him, no time by himself to calm down, nothing would dissuade him from his determination to be miserable. Nothing that is, except the end of the photo shoot and the ride home in the car. The tears stopped, the whining ended, he was willing to talk, and even understood that his choices prevented him from receiving the promised gum, donut, movie, etc. Oh, how I wanted to cry and laugh at the same time, and even to pronounce punishment on Will (“go to your room, you ruined our pictures!”). But grace took over that day, and while he still did spend time in his room, he was told that he was a loved son despite any poor choices. Over the remainder of that day and the weeks that followed, those 30 long minutes trying to get a family picture have come back to me many times, and I think I’ve taken away two really important things from that day.

First, I have family pictures that are great, but they aren’t perfect. And I have a family that is great, but not perfect. So really, I have pictures of my family looking the way we actually look, which is NOT perfect. And second, I have a son who is a little sinner (he’s not the only one, I have a whole family of sinners, hence point number one). In Will’s pride and stubbornness he decided that he would not cooperate or smile for a picture. Mitigating circumstances aside, it was still his decision, made willfully and with full awareness that his choices were wrong. So often I am that stubborn, proud child before a Holy God. I dig in my heels and make my choice, willfully choosing disobedience over obedience. Then my perfect, loving Father comes alongside me in my tantrum and draws me to Himself, even in my sin. He doesn’t vindictively pronounce punishment from on high, though there may be consequences for my actions. He reminds me of His great love for me, His child. I didn’t get it perfect that day; there was anger in my heart and anger trying to jump from my lips. But I understand a bit more about God as our Father, as our loving Daddy, and how we are supposed to be like him as parents.

Friday, November 21, 2014

9 months old

Sweet miss Gwen has been 9 months old for a few weeks but just had her well visit this week, so I'd been putting off blogging about it. She weighed 17 pounds 11 ounces (just under 50th percentile), which is right about where she has been for several months.

She's crawling, mostly army crawl style still, because she's faster that way than hands and knees.

And Gwen is pulling up on everything now. She looks so big now when I look over and see her peeping over the edge of things.

Her hair is getting long enough for pigtails too!

And Gwen is our awesome eater still. She basically eats what we do each meal, including fish, mushrooms, salami, lasagna, meatballs, lo-mein, stir fry...anything we give her!

Her communication has grown so much too. She signs eat, milk, more, claps her hands and waves, and says Mama and Dada, as well as hi (while waving). Super cute stuff.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Crazies at Costco

Costco has a lot of great things going for it as a store...jumbo carts, free samples, and tons of seasonal decorations to peruse. We usually try to make time for it to be a longer trip, and these crazies love going.

Monday, November 3, 2014


Emma loves to wear her matching shirt with Gwen! The first picture is from a few weeks ago, also in their matching Jean skirts.

These two are from last week. Gwen looks so big standing up holding Emma's hands! And Emma looks like a young lady with her beautiful long hair and grown up expression.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014


Love how this boy loves books.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Fall hiking

Beautiful October weather found us back at the trails in the state parks. We hiked 3.5 miles and the weather was just perfect!