I don't intend to link up with anyone's list at this time, but I thought I'd give the format a try in my weekly wrap-ups for a while. So, without further ado, here are My Seven Quick Takes for This Week. Do you like this format better than my usual simple narration? Why or why not? Let me know what you think!
1.) When I wrote last week Sunday, I was home alone because Jeff and the girls had gone off to watch his hometown school's production of Rodgers & Hammerstein's Cinderella. We'd all been invited by Jeff's parents, and, though I thought better of it considering how I was feeling, I'm glad they didn't miss it. And not surprisingly - because they love being with their grandparents and love musical theater - they had such a wonderful time that they talked about it on and off all week and even periodically started belting out one show tune or another. I really don't know how they memorized those pieces after having heard them just once, but it's a skill they've both always had - something, it seems, they inherited from Jeff, who can still quote lines from movies he watched one time 30 years ago.
2.) We continued our My Father's World - Exploring Countries and Cultures "walk" through Germany this week, reading a few more Grimm Brothers fairy tales - "The Brementown Musicians," "The Frog Prince," and "Rumplestiltskin" - and a biography about Beethoven. All the girls really enjoyed dancing to some of Beethoven's music, especially when we turned on the wonderfully funny Beethoven's Wig CD. And, given Germany's history, we read a lot about castles - how they were made and the roles of different people (knights, princesses, peasants, minstrels, blacksmiths) in them. And, though we're essentially taking a break from bookwork this coming week, the girls and Jeff will work on a special castle project on Thursday and Friday...but you'll have to come back next week for details!
3.) We did another picture study in the girls' language book, Language Lessons for the Very Young, with each one creating a delightful story of her own based on this painting.
The Disagreeable Owls
by Abigail (Age 8)
Once there were four owls. Their leader had them search for food. They could not find any day and night, and soon they grew tired. Their leader would say, “Go out and find some food!” But there was none to find.
4.) Though they hardly need more opportunities to eat sweets, we celebrated the girls' "half-y birthdays" - because recently Abigail turned eight and a half and Rachel turned nine and a half. We read about this idea in a cute book last year and thought it would be fun to try here. Of course, it's convenient that their birthdays are close together because, rather than throw away half a cake to accommodate the occasion, I could simply split one cake in two! Each decorated her half as she chose...which, in both cases, simply meant thick yellow frosting and piles of sugar sprinkles.
One day in their little house in the clearing, one of the owls, whose name was Whoo, said, “I’m tired of all of this searching. We need a break.”
At this, the leader straightened up, and Whoo gave a guilty look until the other owls agreed with him.
At that, their leader flew off in search of food himself. But there was none to be found of course.
One day the owls went out to search for their leader. They found him wandering around in the forest, and they said, “Come back with us.” For these were birds of prey and ate meat, but they had found things that were not meat that they could eat in the woods.
So the owl leader came back with them, and they started to eat big leaves, flowers, and berries. And because of all the three owls’ wisdom, the leader made them be in charge of him.
The Maze Forest
by Rachel (Age 9)
Once upon a time, there was a great forest, and there were great ferns, trees, and roughs in it. And if anyone went into it a mile or so, they would never find their way out. So, in that way, it was called the “Lose Yourself Forest” or “The Maze Forest.”
If you want to find these owls, you can go searching The Maze Forest…but you may never come out. And that’s why I’m telling you so: Don’t go into The Maze Forest.
In the great forest, there lived several owl communities. One was never the same as the other. One particular breed was called the Caraffio Breed.
In the Caraffio Breed, there was an elder. He was quite stern and tough. He always brought the council back into order. For instance, when one of the owls was angry with another and hit him in the back during a council meeting, the owl chief got very stern and put them back into positions.
One day, when the council was feeling restless, the chief decided to tell them a story to stop their discomfort. And so he told them:
“Once upon a time, there lived a lovely princess who lived in a castle at the edge of the forest – the exact forest where we live. Now, you know there are ruins at the edge of the forest; those are ruins of her castle, and I’m getting to the part where her castle was ruined.
“One day, there was a terrible earthquake that shook the earth and knocked down her castle. In fear of losing her life, the princess ran from the palace into the woods. Little did she know that it was a maze forest and nobody ever came out of it…or that a wicked witch lived in it.
“One day the princess was wandering in the forest trying to find her way out when she heard some groaning in a clearing. When she entered the clearing, she found an old lady trying to chop wood. She saw the ax had gotten stuck in the piece of wood she was cutting, and she couldn’t get it out.
“The princess offered to help the old lady, and the old lady said, ‘Why don’t you come into my house for butter and cheese?’ Little did the princess know that the old woman was the witch.
“When the princess had finished her meal, she felt rather drowsy, and the witch invited her upstairs to sleep.”
“What happened next?” said Grenkun, one of the owls.
“I was just getting to that,” said the leader.
“When she had fallen asleep, the old witch made breakfast and poured something into her drink. When the princess came down for breakfast the next morning, the witch said she could sit at the place where she had poured the poison into the drink.
“When the princess drank her water, something happened. She turned into an owl.
“She flew out of the house and flew for many days. And then she met a charming young male owl, and soon they were married. They formed a tribe – that is our tribe now. And that male owl just happened to be me. And they lived happily for several long years.”
But before he could finish the story, his wife came to the sacred circle. After an hour, she left, and then the owl leader finished the tale.
“And they are still there today.”
Then one of the owls asked him, “Why did you pause when your wife came into the sacred circle?”
“She doesn’t like to talk about it. She likes to fly through the sacred circle and to the ruins of her castle. That reminds her of when she was a princess.”
Then they finished the council meeting, and every owl went back to their wives and children and amused their children with the tale. And their children told their children, and their children told their children. And that is how it came to the human tongue.
5.) We also celebrated a whole birthday, for T., the boy I watch on Friday afternoons. I've known T. since he was six months old, when his mom called me in a panic. Her maternity leave was about to end and the provider she'd hired bailed on her at the last minute. So, she wondered, "Could you possibly watch T. for the last six weeks of this school year?" Well, now he's about to turn five and one thing has led to another so that we still get to see him every Friday. We celebrated his Thanksgiving birthday a little early, and I had to laugh at Anna's affectionate birthday hug because she often claims she will marry T. one day. It's a long shot, but wouldn't it be hilarious if we could show this picture at their rehearsal dinner?
6.) Our third week with Baby H. was very good; in fact, it seems that we are falling into a "new normal" in terms of accommodating his needs into our schedule. So far, he eats shortly after he comes for the day...and then he naps for most of the rest of the morning before waking up to sit with us at lunch and then eat again. That will only last so long, of course, since he'll stay awake for longer and longer stretches in very short order, but it's been very nice to now have that time in which to focus on all the girls' academics without interruption. H. doesn't nap very well in the afternoons at this point, which is kind of baffling since I know he gets tired, but I'm just trying to roll with those punches.
7.) I have spent a fair amount of energy thinking and talking about - and being outraged by - the new airport "security" measures instituted by the TSA this week. In fact, I'm going to find time in the next few days to write a whole separate blog post about what I see as nothing less than government-sponsored pornography (in the form of the naked scanners) and molestation (through the "enhanced pat-downs"). For now, I'll close with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, which even a cursory reading will reveal is being blatantly violated with each and every one of these "security" checks, and then a prescient quote by one of our Founding Fathers.