Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A New Venture

From the time Ella was just a baby people have asked what we would do when it came time for school.  Home-school?  Private school?  Public school?  We just always answered and thought that we'd do what seemed best when the time came.  As parents of an 8-month old there was no way to know where we would live, what schools would be like, or what our family situation would be when it came time to make that decision. 

When we lived in Louisville we met several families who home-schooled, and I even worked for one of the families who operated a business out of their home.  They had four children, and I got to observe what life was like for them.  Through this family I also got the opportunity to teach a Literature class for a large group of 7th-8th graders.  That was such a great experience.  I had several Anne of Green Gables-moments where I felt like I was really connecting with students, and they were responding and loving the books we read.  

Last year Ella had the privilege of attending school with several friends from church, and she did so well.  She had a great teacher, great friends, and learned so much.  We were so proud of her, and it was a good situation for us.  But if you've read my blog over the past year, you know how much I missed having that girl at home!  I also love reading and learning and teaching Ella so much.  Over the past several months I've thought, dreamed, researched, worried, prayed, and ultimately became confident and peaceful about home-schooling for this school-year.  

I'd heard about Sonlight in the past, and when a friend let me borrow a catalogue I fell completely in love with their core curriculum.  It was filled with all my favorite books.  How could I resist it?  Another friend already had several of the books that were part of the core I wanted so I was able to borrow a lot of materials.  I placed my order last Tuesday, and to my very great surprise and delight, it arrived on Saturday.

We were all so excited.  And that's been another exciting and confirming thing for me:  Ella's excitement.  She's over the moon about our new venture, too.  She called it "Free School," is glad I'm her teacher, that she doesn't have to wear shoes (a big perk for her, I guess), and that we won't have to rush around to get out the door in the morning (a dislike that she also inherited from me, I think).  She was so excited on Saturday and begged to start school right away.  So I read and organized all weekend, and we started yesterday.  I know it's still July, but that gives us some lee-way with holidays, right?

Our books for the week
 Ella is starting first grade, but we started with a review of old concepts with the Kindergarten Hooked on Phonics. 

We got a little bit of a later start yesterday because we had an overnight guest, one we were really happy to have on the first day of school.  She did Ella's read-aloud with her, and James wanted in a picture, too, of course.

We had a really great day.  Ella was so happy and agreeable, saying, "I have to do everything you tell me today."  Didn't she always?  The role of teacher is garnering more respect than my role of mother.  I'm not complaining.  After reading we learned about dinosaurs, the layers of the earth, and continents.  We made good use of my wedding gift to KJ 8 1/2 years ago.

   Note Lightening McQueen's appearance on the right.

We worked on phonics and spelling and math.  The kids watched Dinosaur Train and the Backyardigans episode, Journey to the Center of the Earth, while they ate lunch, and while James napped, the girls did a little Physical Education.

We just had a really wonderful day.  I'm so thankful.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Monday's Memories: On the Road Again

After two nights at The Lion and Fiddle we were on the road again.  We drove west toward Bristol, and I took a few pictures out the window of the car as we drove.

 I just liked the name Pucklechurch.

I loved all the signs warning us of various animals and people we should watch out for crossing the road.  I wish I'd thought of snapping pictures of all of them sooner. 

This inn reminded me of a little boy in our family
and Gryffindor, of course.

I also found a little footage of the scenery along our way.  I thought you'd enjoy the beauty.  I did.
From Bath to Bristol from KJ Pugh on Vimeo.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Friday's Flashback: Pulteney Bridge and Jane Austen's House

First, I found a few more pictures of the Pump Room that I missed in the last post.  I really like the first one.

When I was researching places to see in Bath, I was most excited about Pulteney Bridge.  I thought it was so pretty, and it's unique as one of the few bridges in the world with shops built into it.  And what could be more English than a bridge over the River Avon?

 view of a park bordering the River Avon on the way to the bridge

 The Star of the Show
Isn't it lovely?

We walked across the bridge admiring the shops and stopping at one to order paninis and crisps for dinner.  We also stopped at the window of this antique map store.  I don't think we could have afforded any of the treasures inside, but my husband does love a map.

  View from beneath the Bridge
The British are very exact at making lovely "prospects."

We decided to take our sandwiches back to the square beside Bath Abbey and the Roman Baths.  A street musician sat playing his guitar and tourists rested on benches surrounding the square.  I guess I was too busy eating my tomato and mozzarella panini to take a picture.  I got tomato on my white shirt.  I think that stain is still there, a stain made in England, a most romantic stain for sure.  KJ and I had a good conversation as we ate and watched a young girl dance in the square to the music.  We felt embarrassed for her when she tripped and fell.  I found it interesting how much the people of Bath appreciated those who entertained in the square.  There was a plaque dedicated to one of them who died on a bench beside us.  You can see a small picture of where we ate on this blog.  I happened upon it the other day.  It's the last picture of the post, and we sat on the bench to the right of the trash can.

After we ate we walked back to the car park and drove to one last important historic site.

 I just loved the red ivy climbing here.

 I love this picture.
I took it through the window of the car while we were at a light.
I wonder if this is where we were when we received our ticket?
Yes, a few weeks after we got home we got a ticket in the mail for driving in a bus lane.  I meant to scan it and show you.  Monday.

 Number 4, Sydney Place
The Austen family spent most of their time in Bath in these lodgings.

 Imagine how many times she walked up and down those steps and down that walkway.  

 Love that knob.

Farewell, Bath.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Everyday

"I feel like I'm really busy all day, but then I look around and feel like I haven't really accomplished anything."

Those are the words I spoke to KJ last night when he asked me about my day, but looking at them now, I don't feel like that's a complete truth.  I was really speaking of my to-do list around the house and that the house wasn't perfect.  Why do I hold on to that ideal of perfection?  I don't know.  It gives me something to strive for, I guess.

I do feel busier than I've ever felt in mothering but also happier and the most fulfilled in a lot of ways, too.  I loved snuggling my babies and toddlers, but it is more fun and mentally challenging planning activities for them now.  That's not to say that parenting in this season doesn't also leave me mentally scatterbrained and brain dead sometimes, too.  I just had to intervene and discipline in the midst of an argument over what to watch on Netflix and who was going to push the button on the Wii controller.  

 Self-portraiture with the big camera is hard work.

Ella and I have been reading like crazy this week, trying to meet our summer reading goals by Friday.  We've been having family read-aloud times with me reading Little House in the Big Woods to everyone.  I love those books so much, so it's fun to share them with KJ and also to introduce Ella to pioneer life in America for the first time.  It gives me a lot of joy to teach her new things.  James sometimes gets a little loud during these readings, but we try to press on anyway.  

  Life captured through my iPod's camera
Piano Lessons

  Bubble Blowing


 I'm not sure where I was going with this blog post...just a little update, I suppose.  Perhaps if the children weren't clamoring for my attention there would be something more brilliant to say, but as it is...they're clamoring for my attention.  We'll be spending the day cleaning, laundering, ironing, disciplining, teaching, reading, errand-running, practicing gymnastics, etc.

Fun tidbit, I love holding James' feet while he does sit-ups.  It's the best.  He's been joining in Ella's gymnastics-inspired workouts.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Monday's Memories: The Pump Room

Everything seems so old in Bath, and it has been occupied for so long, I was surprised to see the building below.  I was very ignorant of the YMCA's origination, though, because apparently it was founded in London in 1844.  It definitely belonged here looking stately and dignified, quite a different look from the YMCA's I've visited.

 This was one of my favorite signs in England;
it always made me think of Elizabeth Bennet saying,
"I'm extremely diverted," which then conjured up images of laughing cars in my mind.

 See how the buildings were built to accommodate the hills?

We're walking towards Bath Abbey.  It was a beautiful and impressive place.  There were lots of people and lots of traffic.  I think that has always been the case in Bath, precisely why Jane Austen didn't care for this place.

Bath Abbey
We didn't take the time for a tour of the Roman Baths that give the city its name but took a quick look around.  Probably what stands out most to me about our afternoon in the city was thinking about a statement KJ made:  "These have been here since before the time of Christ."  Old, old, old.

Connected to the baths is the Pump Room.  I was most eager to visit here and drink some of the famous water.  It's the location of many a scene in a Jane Austen novel.

We paid a couple of pence to drink from the King's Spring.  It tasted warm and very mineral-y.  I was unable to finish my glass.

 I loved the chandeliers. 

 Just the place for some Romans to hang out together

 KJ had me take a picture of this quilt.
We were reading Charles Dickens' A Child's History of England, and he thought this would help us keep the kings and queens straight and in their proper houses.

More beautiful ceilings and chandeliers

If we were a little swankier, perhaps we would have tried to make reservations at the Pump Room's restaurant.  We're not very swanky, though.  We traveled on to get a view of the River Avon and ate paninis in the square.  It was some of our best time together, though, so no regrets there.