the second week in review

Here, again, is this wonderful passage from John Bunyan’s book  All Loves Excelling.

“The High God is yours;  the God that fills heaven and earth is yours;  the God whom the heaven of heavens cannot contain is yours, yea, the God whose works are wonderful, and whose ways are past finding out, is yours!  Consider therefore the greatness that is for you, that taketh part with you, and that will always come in for your help against them that contend with you.     It is my support, it is my relief, it is my comfort in all my tribulations,  and I would have it be yours, and so it will when we live in the lively faith thereof.”

This is an amazing concept.    It’s the most perfect antidote to discouragement.   It is so uplifting to consider that this great God is ours, and is our comfort.   Especially since our week here was not very inspirational or inspired.  But we were carried through and cared for through it all.  That is really marvellous!

This is how the outside world looked last time any of us were in it.     I love the look of the dam on our river  when it freezes.   I went for two very chilly three mile runs on Monday and Tuesday,  in temperatures which were something like -11C, and then, along with  my children, I fell ill.

It’s not surprising that our very satisfying start back to school last week…..complete with ball spike and victory dance by me…..was followed by a really mediocre week in which it has felt that we are marching through molasses.   This, thanks to a funky virus that is claiming us one by one and leaving us curled up under blankets and quilts on every sofa, chair, bed and even on the floor in front of the fireplace.
Not all of us have fallen, and the ones still on their feet have loved us and fed us, and kept things tidy and have kept morale up in something like a symphony of cheerful non-complaint.

Maggie has hardly shown any signs of illness, and has flitted from patient to patient wearing her Queen Elizabeth I dress.

Here she is , wearing her uniform, with a bit of war-paint fading from her cheeks, having just donated her mug of milk to good old Cinder.    Gross, but also sweet.    And it’s OK, she knows not to drink after the dog…..

She ministers to us by snuggling up close to her patient of choice, with the rustling crinolines and stiff collar standing tall.   Once she’s nestled in under the covers,  she  tells the most preposterous stories which include dragons, trips to Costco, a creature who creep into houses to steal ginger-ale, hairy spiders taking up residence in people’s noses, and squirrels in bathing suits.   And it’s really encouraging.   It reminds me that health is still close-by……so close I can almost touch it.   And then, later I find her sleeping, curled up like a pinto bean in front of the fireplace, exhausted by her efforts.

As I have said, we are neither inspired nor inspirational.   But we’re really thankful.   I am so very thankful for those blankets, chairs, beds and fireplace.  For Helen singing while she made breakfast for us all this morning.   For my sweet neighbour who just stopped by with a casserole.  For the good words of Philippians swirling around in my head, reminding me to remember my brothers with thankfulness and to look for how the grace of God is evident in their lives.    And for the blessing that comes to us as we remember to pray for one another.

We were all scheduled for the high entertainment of a debate session tonight, in which the three older kids had each taken a different stand on the topic of who should get the vote (as if it were the 1920’s).   One is arguing for an all white vote, another argues for black and white men voting, and another is taking the side of the women’s votes.    But two of my debaters are too dizzy to fight.

We had hoped to rocket  through the early 1920’s in history, and go straight for The Great Depression starting Monday.   Wonder if we can double up and cover all we missed next week and get back on schedule?    I’ll know in a week.

My older kids are doing two courses of Biology this year.  One is Apologia Biology, which seems to be a big favourite among home-schoolers.  The other course is a far more rigorous Biology with Microbiology which is being taught by their dad.   He usually brings them together for science class on Friday afternoon, and science class is always preceded by a day of jittery nervous energy, and three kids who have their heads buried in textbooks and computer screens in preparation.    I wonder if they will have class today……they don’t like to let Jon down, and it’s really beautiful to me to see them trying to rise to his expectations.


I made a bit of progress on David’s sweater.   Here it is last week:

And here it is this week:

Here’s the original drawing, the plan for this sweater.   It’s silly, but I’m filling the drawing in with color as I get it knitted up.

the first week in review

The first week back to school, after any event, is always a challenge.  I think I’ve said that before.  And I have learned not to pin too many hopes on that first week.

So this week, we just aimed at getting everybody minimally back up to speed in math, science and grammar.   And I also planned on doing a whole lot of group discussion so we could all remember what it was we were studying in history  last month.
We all wanted to get started memorizing Philippians 1:1-6 together.
I had a pile of war poetry, written by WWI soldiers,  to read and discuss.
And I wanted to get everybody to work on  persuasive  essay projects that would sound enticing.
One of the kids is writing an essay trying to convince the president to join the League of Nations, another  is  writing a proposal to a friend to join her in a business venture, another is writing a paper to persuade her dad that  a vegetable garden would benefit his mental and physical health…..and Daniel is writing a paper about why Lego should be in the home (and all over the floor) of every 8yr old boy.    I’m leaving somebody out, but that happens all the time.

Persuasive essays are a great favorite.  For a brief moment, they are being told that it’s OK to smear their opinions all over somebody else……and that’s way more fun than writing a book report.

I was also hoping, just hoping, that after the disorganization of the past two weeks we could squeak everybody through piano lessons today without too much shame.  And they did it!    They surpassed all my expectations.    I nearly cried.

So,  Hallelujiah, We made it…..on all points.  This has not happened before, I’m sure.  I always fall flat this first week after the break, and it’s always a bit discouraging.  But not this time.
So, I’m pumped now.  I’m taking this as a sign.  We’re about to have a killer second half of the year.

And on top of all that, we got winter.      Here’s our street this afternoon.
And Maggie learned to ice-skate today.
We all went skiing Monday and we tried to teach Maggie to ski.  And that was a comedy show.   She went up the kiddie hill on the magic carpet, sobbing most of the way.  Then she cried in a howling sort of way,  all the way down the hill.  Three times.   Then she went back up for the fourth run, and when she got off the belt at the top, she amazed us all by reaching back, unfastening her  bindings, stepping out of  her skis and marching down the hill.
I gathered up the skis and followed her.
I wish I had a photo…..just try to imagine a three year old dressed up like a hot-pink astronaut stomping down a snowy hill, grim determination and hot chocolate  all over her face.

She can ski next year.   This year she’ll skate, and that’s enough for me.

Oh, and I even got David’s sweater started.   I have never actually made a sweater that  anyone would wear.   So far, I’m just good at flat items.    So here’s the ribbing for the waistband, and I’m working my way up.   I can tell you now that once I get to the arms, and have to actually attach those babies, I’m going to be melting in a pool of sweaty anxiety.   Knitting Drama.  Stay Tuned!

Jon’s Answer to the Garbage Question

Here, below, are Jon’s answers to the questions on yesterday’s post.  If it doesn’t make sense, just read the post below.

Katie was the only one to answer……she gets a copy of this very good book.  Thanks for participating Katie!  It will be going out in tomorrow’s mail.

Well,  As in most of life, there is no right answer.

What is important is how you specify your assumptions and solve the problem based on those assumptions. MY assumptions in writing the question was: Peter is DRIVING. So, he throws the garbage out the window to the left holding the steering wheel with his R hand. I am also assuming he is NOT driving a convertible, so he can’t throw the garbage straight up. I suppose he could have thrown it out to the right, but that would be awkward and would assume the passenger window is open (vis: Harry met Sally), He can obviously not through it “out” backwards.

That would land the garbage in the back seat.

So, Peter, going 40m/hr straight ahead, throws the garbage out straight to the left at 30m/hr. The relative velocity of the garbage would be sqrt(30^2+40^2) or sqrt(900+1600)=50m/hr. So, the garbage travels 50m/hr x2/60 hr = 5/3 m or 1.6m from the point it was thrown out. Now, Peter has traveled 40m/hr x 2/60 hr = 4/3 m or 1.3 miles, The relative DISTANCE of Peter from the garbage would depend on the angle between the two trajectories. ASSUMING a square-angled triangle and that the garbage trajectory would make up the hypotenuse of that triangle, the remaining side would be sqrt(1.6^2 – 1.3^2) or sqrt(25/9m – 16/9 m) = sqrt(9/9 mi^2) = 1 mile.

Part B is the critical one to show you understand the difference of absolute and relative distances/velocities. John stands fixed (in utter disgust at Peter’s lack of environmental responsibility) at the point where the garbage was thrown out, and hence is 1.4 miles away from it when it hits the ground. (we are NOT bothering to figure in the hight from the ground, gravity, 3-dimensional angles, etc). The simplest solution is most often correct. Full credit would be given for a simple diagram that outlines the correct relationships and illustrates an understanding of the concepts even if the numbers are wrong.

Of course, some wise-ass student could simply ASSUME that it was raining and that the windows were closed, so the garbage traveled with Peter all along. THis would violate the problem that states that the garbage did in fact hit the ground.


Mixing it up with a little physics quiz…

Anyone who has spent any time at all with my kids since August 2009 is aware that the three oldest are staggering toward the horizon under a crushing weight of physics and chemistry which has been lovingly laid upon their shoulders by their father.

Have any of you heard them groan and complain about this?
Yes, we have all heard it…..and I think it’s kind of funny because I know they don’t really mean it.  If you have heard any physics complaints which were particularly creative, you can share them here as a comment.  It might encourage some other mother who’s got kids howling and writhing on the floor over grammar or algebra or something.

And just to give you an idea of the fun side of physics, and by way of cheering us all up and blowing away some of the thick fog of The Faerie Queene… are two of the first questions on a physics test from a few months ago.  Please try to work out the answers and leave them as comments below.  Anyone who gets this one right wins a free copy of Gene Veith’s book Reading Between the Lines. In case you aren’t familiar with this book, read the quotes from it below.

Question One:  Peter is driving along the road at 40 miles an hour.  He throws a bag of garbage out the window at 30 miles and hour (he is very strong).  How far away is he from  the garbage when it hits the ground two minutes later?

And Question Two:  John was right next to the car when Peter threw out the garbage.  How far might John have to walk before he would find the garbage ?

(If you can only answer one question, but you get the correct answer, you are still right. )