1.Frank finished the Bob Books last night! Funny thing is he accidentally started the last set of Bob Books from the end, so he did the hardest four or five books first and then went back in order. So last night he cruised through the middle five that were left. We called everyone up to listen to the last page, caught it on video, brought the bag of completed books up to the attic and then went to Culver's to celebrate. Yum!
2.I can't believe I still haven't given a Latin Convention update. We're still missing the official transcript of scores, I just have the notes I quickly jotted down during the awards ceremony. (The awards ceremony gives the top 5 placements for each event whereas the transcript goes all the through the top 10). Our Gus had a great first year and we're really proud of him. He's always had some learning challenges (which I wrote about a bit on the old blog) and one that still lingers is that his handwriting and fine motor skills tend to be slow going. There were a total of 12 written tests he could have taken. He was only able to finish seven in the time given. Out of those seven, he placed in the top 5 on four tests! 5th place in Roman History, 4th place in Latin Derivatives, 3rd place in Greek Derivatives and 1st place in Latin Literature! He also tied with one of his teammates for 2nd place in Impromptu Oratory. This is a lovely confidence boost for all of us and has helped me to understand that what we've been doing is really working pretty well on the whole (and more of the same at this point is good)!
I really enjoy watching the Oscars every year. Do you? Sure I groan at some of the speeches and other oddities, but I enjoy a lot of the "little guy" moments, I love the tributes to those who have died in the past year and things like that. Also, I simply enjoy rooting for my favorite movies. This year I've seen four of the movies nominated for best picture: The King's Speech, True Grit, Inception, and Toy Story 3. Even among those, The King's Speech is a huge favorite for me. I let my highschoolers watch the Oscars with me and then I call all of the kids (who are in earshot) in for key moments, like Pixar Movie Moments. ;)
4.A few weeks ago I purchased Secrets of Mental Math from The Teaching Company when it was on sale (all Teaching Company courses go on sale substantially at least once per year - we purchased this set for about $40). I thought it might make a nice break from the regular routine and give the kids a more enthusiastic angle on math. The course has exceeded my expectations and the change of pace has been wonderful, especially in February. All of the kids are interested in it and are following along pretty well. They've been doing each lesson 3 or 4 times to pick up all the details (they also pause it frequently - the guy talks fast and covers a lot of stuff!). Overall an enthusiastic recommendation so far! We also picked up the Joy of Mathematics, but haven't really dug into it yet.
5.We're having a lovely reprieve from the ultra-cold weather this week. It's been lovely and the kids have spent lots of time outside, despite all the mud from the melting snow. During the coldest weather, the kids weren't spending much time outside and the dog wasn't getting enough exercise. She has the run of a bunch of the yard, but without some stimulation from people, she tends to just go outside and bark at the neighbors. So the kids have been making a special effort to keep her busy. She LOVES the snow and will try to catch snowballs in her mouth to the great entertainment of all. They came up with a new form of entertainment this week. They took a snowball and got her attention with it and then smushed it into the top of a very large snowball (about two feet tall). The dog would get up on her hind legs and dig through the big snowball with great excitement. I have to see if I can find the video they took of it. Too funny!
I've been meaning to read St. Therese's Story of a Soul for many years. I had a copy of the famous John Beevers translation on my bookshelf at least since college. Last year I ended up picking up an unedited translation from a rummage sale. After the Ron Hansen kick I've been on lately, I decided I needed something completely different (especially after Hitler's Niece, which is a VERY disturbing book). And so I thought of Story of a Soul and I did it, I finally read it. I should do a post on some quotes and thoughts from it, but just wanted to do a quick take for now. I was amazed by her confidence in understanding how God works in her life. I was also particularly moved, as I was by a description of St. Francis of Assisi on gratitude that I've quoted here in the past, at her ability to look upon sufferings, great or small, as a gift from God.