Narnia, Redux

We took a little break after finishing Voyage of the Dawn Treader, to read some picture books, some Christmas books, and Children of the Noisy Village, but now the holidays are over and we have finished traveling, and we have picked the Chronicles of Narnia back up with The Silver Chair.

Even as I type, sitting in my comfy grey recliner (“This is my silver chair,” I said smugly), Carl and the girls are curled up on the couch across from me, the girls utterly engrossed as Carl reads aloud. They are on the chapter where Caspian sails away and Eustace and Jill miss their chance to greet him. This is one of my favorite chapters, what with Glimfeather and Trumpkin and “If he’s useless, we don’t want him here!” (paraphrase) which is a favorite line in my family, and used often.

Joy especially is enthralled with Narnia. She wants to read other books like them (alas, there are few of those indeed, darling daughter!); she informed her grandmother that if she had a magic wand her first wish would be that Narnia was real; and when Carl read the description of Aslan’s Country in the first chapter of this book she had the most incredibly dreamy expression on her face, picturing it in her head. It’s the most delightful thing in the world, seeing her imagination so completely captured.

Gracie incorporates Narnia into all her play. Her stuffed moose become a reindeer, her rag doll made of white cloth becomes the White Witch, a doll stroller turned on its back becomes a sledge, and voila, all she needs is a dwarf driver (usually portrayed by one of her baby dolls). This is also a delight to observe. I have to be careful not to chortle too loudly, or she gets self-conscious and quits playing.

They loved Anne of Green Gables when I read it to Joy for school, and that was wonderful. Seeing them love Narnia so much, though … that goes beyond joy. Narnia was – is – such an integral part of my life, of my very identity. The Narnia books were some of Carl’s sole interest in reading as a child. For both of us, they helped to shape how we view the world, our ideas of heroes and sacrifice and love and friendship and adventure. It is wondrous to see our own children take fire with these very same stories.

I wonder if CS Lewis had any idea, when he wrote these books, of how deeply they would affect children of every generation ever since. I am so, so thankful for them, and for him.

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Already Booked (My Life, That Is)

Worked some on From the Shadows today and thought, “Boy, if I could just take one week where I did nothing but write (like I did when I wrote the initial novella), I could have this sucker done.”

Then I looked at our school schedule calendar and saw that we don’t take a week off until mid-October. And that week is already booked for finishing sewing the kids’ Halloween costumes and, if there is any time left after that, making them some fall dresses.

Sigh. I guess pecking away at it here and there, during the evenings and in between math and grammar lessons, will have to suffice.

School Days, Here Again

I am (not really) guiltily sitting in my comfy chair right in the middle of our school day, because Carl has temporarily taken over math class with Joy and Grace is drawing, which doesn’t require supervision. Joy and I, we try our best, but our brains don’t work the same way at all, and nowhere is that more apparent than with math. I do my best to explain things, and she gives me a blank stare; she does her best to follow directions, but I can see she doesn’t really understand any of it; and despite my trusty and well-beloved teacher’s manual, we end up getting stone-walled every time.

(“You’re making it harder for yourself because you’re worrying more about getting the right answer than about learning how to do it,” he just told her, and wow, there’s some life application right there.)

Carl and Joy have much more similar ways of thinking, and so he took some time out of his studies/lunch break from work to sit down with her and help. And even though she’s frustrated because he’s actually making her think through the problems instead of blindly following orders, she’s starting to get it.

(We’re not sure yet about how Gracie’s brain works. I’m starting to suspect it’s on a completely different plane from any of ours.)

School has swooped in and taken over our lives again, both Carl’s school and homeschool with the kids. Joy got about halfway through first grade by the end of the year last year, so we are finishing that up and then will be starting second grade. I love not being tied to the school’s grade system (a bonus of starting a year early with her) so that we can proceed at our own pace, and take eighteen months to get through first grade math if necessary.

Carl is taking a Harvard class this semester, which is pretty cool. That started last week; the rest of his classes start this week. Once again we are changing our rhythm to adjust to his pattern of work-and-class, and figuring out a good balance between school-and-free-play with the kids.

And in the midst of it all, I still try to find the time to tap out a few words here and there. Last night I churned out 3,000 words between 8:30 and 10:30, which was awesome except then my brain wouldn’t shut off and I stayed awake until midnight trying in vain to not keep concocting snappy dialogue and frankly ridiculous plot twists.

It’ll take us (read: me) a little while to get accustomed to the new schedule, but that’s all right. It’s all part of the adventure of seminary-and-homeschooling.

Gramercy, I Cry!

I was never taught much grammar, per se. I figured it all out pretty much on my own, through all the reading I did, and my mom taught me how to assign the names to parts of sentences in middle school, but at that point it was all so instinctive to me that it never really struck. Hence my struggle in basic English classes in college, when we covered grammar – I could write you a perfect sentence, and pick out an imperfect one, every time, but ask me to actually parse it, and I was sunk.

Wait, which one of these is an adjective and which one is a verb again? One is a descriptor and one is an action word … or is it an adverb, and who really cares anyway?

All of which goes into why I am teaching Joy grammar now, as part of first grade, so that it becomes ingrained in her before she’s such a fluent reader that she can’t be bothered to keep track of what is what. And it’s actually helpful to me as well, because after two months of nouns alone, you better believe I am not ever going to forget their definitions now.

Hopefully by the end of first grade, we’ll both be able to perfectly parse a sentence!

Homeschooling: an education for child and parent alike.

Joy’s grammar review this morning.

(Please excuse the bad pun in the title of this post. I can never resist a good homophone – and yes, I DO know what that is. I learned it from Veggie Tales.)