I really need to write more about Pope Benedict's book on St. Paul when I get a chance (I did share a few highlights here). We've been discussing this book with our teen catechism group throughout the summer and it's just amazing (especially after having read a number of St. Paul's letters during the year). The group has really been enjoying it and I really appreciate the clarity he brings to a number of issues - particularly on the very strong theme of charity that runs throughout the book. We have five chapters left out of twenty. You can also read the entire thing online here: General Audiences of Pope Benedict XVI (look for his audiences on St. Paul dating from July 2, 2008 - February 4, 2009).
I officially declare this year our first successful gardening year, although this is my favorite picture of our garden projects (taken about a week ago):
It reminds me of Charlie Brown's Christmas Tree.
We've had a lot of garden fails, including one year where we planted lots of seedlings and got nothing in the ground and one year where our entire crop of tomatoes was eaten by deer.
For those who might be interested, you can see more pictures of our garden here on our Flickr account.
I am very grateful to the book Square Foot Gardening (it's worth getting the new one - much easier than the old one we originally checked out from the library) even though our gardens don't technically qualify as Square Foot Gardens since we never built the little grids that the author INSISTS are essential. :) Particularly helpful were their suggestions to plant close to the house so that the gardens are very accessible for weeding, watering, etc.
We're still enjoying our salad tables as well, though they're waning just a bit at the moment.
We've got a number of activities that we're helping organize this summer and are really pleased with the response so far. We've actually got a local park day going on a weekly basis, which has been a great place to connect, particularly with newer homeschool families. I started a weekly Latin "Study Group" that runs through August (we've met twice so far in this "session") and I think that's turning out pretty well. We do some Latin songs (both fun songs and sacred music) and prayers, have a few handouts with word lists, basic timelines and such and play lots of games. We have a Latin Bingo game, a Greek and Roman art & architecture memory game and a few sources for Certamen (a game show for all things Latin related) questions.
Speaking of Latin, a friend of ours is involved with developing some very interesting (and free) web tools for studying Latin and Greek. They're live online now, though still in progress, and would appreciate feedback, particularly from teachers of Latin and Greek. You can find the project here:
Alpheios is designed to work with Firefox.
We also have a weekly ballroom dance "gig" going for families in our homeschool group through the end of the summer. We've met twice for that so far and have had, I think 50-75 people for each session. Here's a shot from last week's Virginia Reel:
And this is the promenade (we went outside for awhile because the air conditioner wasn't working):
As you can see, the dances are pretty informal and include a wide variety of ages. There isn't a dress code per se, though some of the kids like to dress up and most of the girls like to dance in skirts.
I am still doing the Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred and I think I'm on day 27? It's going pretty well so far. I've lost a few pounds, but noticed a big difference in energy and focus. Definitely planning on sticking to it beyond day 30 - it seems to be a good "fit".
My long neglected Reading Your Way Through History blog is finally getting a little TLC of late. I expect to stay more involved with it - at least for awhile - since the next issue of mater et magistra magazine has a history theme. Should be a good opportunity to dive back into one of my very favorite projects for awhile.