Learning Notes Week of September 1
Anthony investigates the pool filter
Anthony investigates the pool filter


Farmer’s market as usual. We went out to lunch to our favorite on the water location: Jake’s in Hull. Bella and Sophie drew the usual sea scenes, but with much more specificity than usual. Bella drew a tidal pool with a hermit crab, barnacles, snails, anemones, starfish… all right out of Pagoo. Sophie’s was a mix of Pagoo and the New England Aquarium.

Unusually, we did an afternoon read aloud, a poetry extravaganza. Anthony requested the collection of animal haiku, If Not for the Cat by Jack Prelutsky. The boys had fun guessing the animals and Ben got almost all of them correctly. He just didn’t know the sloth and thought the otter was a beaver. Ben requested the Poetry for Young People: Lewis Carroll. Much giggling at that one.

Bedtime stories. Bella requested I, Galileo. Sophie, Dahlia.

Sophie's shark and other marine life
Sophie’s shark and other marine life
Bella's tide pool picture
Bella’s tide pool picture


Bella wanted to read St Patrick’s Summer so we did. Read about the Pattern of the Mass, which was a little tricky since the book was written about the pre 1962 Latin Mass. But we discussed the changes and the book gave us a nice opening for the conversation with the characters discussing the possibility of Mass in the vernacular. I’d love to find a book that goes over the current vernacular Mass with the same kind of detail and done in a story context. Still, it led to a good discussion about Mass and then to reading the day’s Mass readings since the day’s lector was hard to understand having a very sing-songy voice and the priest mumbled his way through the gospel and then gave a homily on Augustine and Monica with no mention of the day’s readings at all.

Discussion with Ben about his Mass led to a determination on my part to bring out our Mass kit more regularly.

Ben and Anthony in the hammock with Grandad
Ben and Anthony in the hammock with Grandad


Dom had the holiday so we took the holiday from school work. I had thought about trying to get something in, even a little reading or math. But I slept in very late and felt awful when I did get up, so I decided to let them have the holiday.

When I got up Bella was playing in the living room. As I made my breakfast I heard her declaim, “Is this a dagger I see before me?” I went in to see what she was doing. An overturned basket had become a stage and she had a several little figures acting out MacBeth: a King who was sleeping, and a queen for Lady MacBeth and a couple of knights for MacBeth and MacDuff. Yes, she was reenacting MacBeth with her toys. And there was an audience too, composed of a bunch of cars and truck and airplanes.

We went to a pool party at Dom’s brother’s house in the afternoon. It doubled as a welcome home party for a Franciscan priest who is a family friend. It was really nice getting to chat with him and then near the end of the day he led a group of us in Evening Prayer. Bella joined in and I was surprised at how many of the psalms she seemed to know, moving her lips along with them as we read. Afterwards I asked her about it and she said that yes, she just knew them from listening to the prayers with me sometimes, playing while they play on the speakers. And that sometimes she ponders the words of the prayers while she’s lying in her bed.

Bedtime stories: Dahlia by Barbara McClintock and All the World’s a Stage by Rebecca Piatt Davidson and illustrated by Anita Lobel.

Lucia finally sits on Grandad's lap-- the day before he goes home.
Lucia finally sits on Grandad’s lap– the day before he goes home.


Hot and muggy today. I was already overheated at breakfast and that was the theme for the day. I’m really hating the boot not because my foot hurts, but because I hate wearing shoes and socks all day. It’s definitely contributing to my crabbiness.

The girls did sit down and do some work. Sophie plugged through copywork and math and read me a Boynton book. Bella did math and copywork. No reading. But Bella and I did read the lectionary readings for the day.

We had to go to Target for diapers and toilet paper. And then dropped my dad off at the airport shuttle. Sad to see him go, it was a nice visit.

Home to lunch and a long afternoon. Lucy slept in the car and at Target and so wasn’t taking an afternoon nap, alas.

I camped out on the bed in my room and read to them there: Little House by Boston Bay, Milly Molly Mandy, St Patrick’s Summer.

At dinner we talked about the difference between iron, steel, and stainless steel. Also about animal classification: felines, canines, rodents, cetaceans, etc.

Bedtime story: Mother Goose.

Sophie's tower
Sophie’s tower


I wrote out a few lines from A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Bella. She loved it and did far more copy work than she has in a long time. Having material she likes makes it much easier. She did her math outside and then read me a couple pages of The Tale of Mrs. Tittlemouse by Beatrix Potter.

Sophie copied another line of High Flight and did a page of Miquon math– multiplication. And then read me a poem out of Mother Goose: “Robin Hood, Robin Hood, / Is in the mickle wood.”

Bella was picking all the heads off my lavender, her hands smelled so sweet. I suggested we could lay them out to dry and then put them into a pillow. So we strewed them on a cookie sheet and I put it on a high shelf. And we found some fabric for her to sew– the bottom of the leg of an old pair of pajamas. Since I just chopped off the leg, she only had to sew two seams. She’s getting pretty good at sewing.

Sophie wanted to join in. So I salvaged a leg from a different pair of old flannel pajamas. I really need to spend time teaching her properly. She has a tendency to forget to pull the thread all the way through and to loop it over from the back to the front. But it didn’t matter too much since the stitching is hidden on the inside.

Ben also wanted to join in. He picked a worn out pair of Dom’s pants. Black. Ok. Black pillow, here we come. I cut the fabric and pinned it and helped him make a few stitches before dinner.

What else did we do? I managed to read a chapter of Milly Molly Mandy and the first chapter in Story of the World Vol 3. Lots of pauses for discussion and brief narration in the history book. We’ll see if they get better at listening and retelling as the year goes on.

We realized we needed more sewing supplies. I got Bella to write me a list of them while I cooked dinner. I helped her spell them. More handwriting and spelling practice! She does like making lists. I should find excuses to have her do it more often.

Other notes: Bella and I spied carpenter bees buzzing about the hosta flowers. Noticed that they were too big to crawl up inside the flower but were instead cutting a hole near the base to steal the nectar without pollinating the flower. I’d read about that, but hadn’t seen it myself. Bella picked a flower and brought it inside to show me the long, narrow slit the bee had cut.

Bedtime story: Bella had Dom read to her from David Macauley’s Castle. Sophie requested Inch and Roly and the Very Small Hiding Place.

Anthony seems to have hurt his foot jumping off the top bunk bed.

Bella's copywork-- A Midsummer Night's Dream
Bella’s copywork– A Midsummer Night’s Dream


Dom took Anthony to the doctor while I stayed home with everyone else. Sophie did half a page of Miquon math and got frustrated. She finally finished copying out High Flight. She read me a board book: I Love You As Much.

Bella did a page of Miquon math, a full page copied from A Midsummer Night’s Dream– Shakespeare is the new obsession and makes copywork quite palatable. And then we sat outside and I read her several speeches and scenes from Henry V. For more than an hour we sat outside and I read to her. And she even glanced at the book and tried to read a few words on her own while I was distracted by Lucy.

Sophie drew a fabulous castle that spanned four pieces of paper glued together. I let Anthony have unlimited iPad time in an attempt to keep him off his feet. But really he kept hobbling all over the house.

We watched several videos. Mr Wizard on what makes the wind blow. Several videos about tides. And more Shakespeare clips.

The four big kids played a long game of Candy Land, organized by Bella and Sophie. How nice for board games to happen without me having to get personally involved. I find Candy Land tedious. So tedious. Actually, for all I know they do too. There seemed to be a lot of imaginative role playing, I’m not sure how much real game play went on.

Afternoon reading… not much. I was tired after a rough night with Anthony and Lucy. Distracted by bread baking and other things. So one chapter of Milly Molly Mandy and then Dahlia for Anthony. And that was that.

Bella did make scones. Almost on her own. I just helped read the directions– though she also read a bit for herself when I had to go take care of Lucy. (That counts for reading practice!) Though she did forget the sugar, I caught it before they went onto the pans and so we were able to add it at the end and save the day. They were a bit wet, but that was my fault as I had to substitute some milk for the yogurt that we were almost out of and I put in too much. Bella even cracked the egg and poured out the vanilla all by herself.

For bedtime prayers this week we’re doing a family rosary. Our interim pastor has asked us to pray a rosary novena as a parish for him and for the priest who will be our new pastor eventually. A great opportunity to teach the kids how to pray it. I always have good intentions, but I find the rosary a much harder prayer to get into than the Liturgy of the Hours. With Dom leading, all I had to do was follow. The kids did pretty good. Even Lucy grabbed a rosary and tried to follow along.

Bedtime story: More David Macauley Cathedral and a selection from The Wind in the Willows. Ben never wants the whole book, never any other part but the battle with the weasels. He’s never heard any other part of the story, actually, but he likes what he likes and why bother with the rest, which may not be as good anyway. That’s my Ben.

Sophie's pillow
Sophie’s pillow


Despite both Anthony and Lucy sleeping the whole night through (!!! Bella said she’d pray for it, I guess it worked.) I was tired and dragging this morning and I knew we needed to get to the store but I was determined to get some schooling in too.

I read them the day’s Gospel reading over breakfast and we talked a bit about the Bridegroom imagery and the new cloak and new wineskins. I got a bit lost myself, not sure where to take that one, but it was fun.

Sophie did her math and copywork right away. Bella was super distracted and had to go to her room to do the copywork. And when she came back she’d done half a page and it was a mess. I rather regretted trying to get her to do it before going to the store. Better off leaving it.

Neither of them read to me before we left. I had the brilliant idea to try to get them to read things in the store. But both, while not completely resistant, didn’t embrace it either. They read things when I specifically asked them to and not on their own. It’s so odd to me because I can’t not read everything I see– even when I’m somewhere I don’t speak the language, I’m trying to figure it out– and I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t that way. And since my main goal there was buying groceries and minding five children, I didn’t do a lot of asking them to read. I remembered a bit at the beginning and a bit at the end. Each girl probably read two or three signs. Oh well.

Bella did do a page of math– multiplication in Miquon– after lunch, so there was that.

Bella and I read the rest of our interrupted chapter in St Patrick’s Summer. Then a chapter of Milly Molly Mandy. Then after Bella scampered, Anthony came in and wanted his own Milly Molly Mandy chapter.

Bella spent some time observing a housefly and reported her observations to me. Then mused on why a housefly is called a housefly and wondered about the other kids of flies. I should follow up on that. See what Comstock has to say.

Bedtime rosary. Everyone is getting it, I think. I admit I found it much more restful than our usual bedtime prayers. Maybe we should do this more often.

Bedtime stories were more Macauley’s Cathedral and more Wind in the Willows. This time Bella asked for an earlier chapter– Rat and Mole visiting Badger in his home after they’ve lost their way in the snow. A nice cozy chapter with lots of beautiful descriptions. Very snug.

Lucy in Anthony's old pajamas
Lucy in Anthony’s old pajamas
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