Month: October 2014

It’s Not Even November

Boy howdy. When I wrote out my class syllabuses in August, I had no idea how much I would depend on them, and so quickly! At the end of September I checked in with the books to see how we were keeping up and discovered that we were halfway through November’s science lessons, but behind on a few smaller things…like Rules of Civility.

I guess we are training uncivilized scientists.

photo 3-3

To compensate, I made some adjustments to our schedule, {cough, cough} and added more subjects, activities, and household responsibilities. The result? We were drowning in busywork at the midpoint of October, behind in Language Arts, and still, somehow nearly done with December’s allotted science chapters. What was going on? I realized that checking in with the books needed to be much more frequent, like every week.

Columbus Day was the perfect excuse for a ‘teacher in-service’ day, and I spent the afternoon industriously writing out two weeks of lesson plans that looked like a psych ward journal.


We ended up with too much bread in the slicer. {He was asking too many questions and he was asking them too quickly. They were stacking up in my head like loaves in the factory where Uncle Terry works. The factory is a bakery and he operates the slicing machines. And sometimes the slicer is not working fast enough but the bread keeps coming and there is a blockage. I sometimes think of my mind as a machine, but not always as a bread-slicing machine. It makes it easier to explain to other people what is going on inside it. ~The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time}

We couldn’t keep up.

Back to the drawing board. I revisited the syllabuses yet again, and found that we didn’t actually have to finish out the entire school year by December 31st. How did I miss this the first time? Contrary to what the psych ward lesson plan said, there was room to slow down. We could take more time with supplementing lessons, absorb more, invite friends over, take longer lunches, play, have recess, take walks, and most likely sleep better.

I amended the lesson plan. The new schedule has us finished with October’s work by {gasp!} the end of October. With a sigh of relief, the burden was lifted.

{The load is still a tad heavy, we are reading The Jungle, after all.}


The best part of the week was our ‘Gratefulness Tree’. It is sort of silly, but each leaf has been a fun reminder of all we have to be grateful for, and a challenge to show appreciation for them. Now this is education, am I right? Construction paper and scotch tape?

Writing up a short list of work for tomorrow, Shelley


Conservation 101

When I started working on restoring an old oil painting that had been damaged, I had no idea how complex and extremely time consuming it would be. I also had no idea that Q-tips would be such a hot commodity around the house, along with 99% isopropyl, a mini crock pot and books by Eli Wilner. But since all these things are just sitting here….I figured we could put some of those items to use and have an impromptu painting conservation class here at The Harmon Academy.

photo 5

The first lesson’s objective was to perfect the Q-tip roll, a technique that requires fine motor skills and a lack of frugality. Before class was over, I think we burned through about 300 Q-tips. We also learned about the solubility of acrylic paint vs. oil paints, and about patience. The kids loved it, and Axel was quite taken with the whole process. When we finished, an unfortunate sea monster was removed from a mediocre {and very green} forest painting.

Drinking Red Rose Tea, Shelley

On Typewriters


‘Another piece of heavy, antiquated equipment’? I was asked as I carried in a recent goodwill find. ‘No!’ was my reply, and here’s why: The absence of spell check. Mistakes are printed on the paper immediately, with no chance of taking them back, and there certainly isn’t auto-correct.

Typewriters are exciting tactile machines that bring all the kids to the table, clamoring for a turn. I love them. The problem is, that there are always more, and they aren’t very expensive, and choosing one can be a bit like choosing just one cat.

When Vegas was in second grade, he received a typewriter for his birthday, and he has used it regularly ever since. Elvis now has a Remington-Rand, and we are still working on tuning it up, and making sure everything works well. So far, as long as Miss Meri doesn’t twist the ribbon around, it has worked splendidly, and Elvis has been practicing his fingering with gusto.


Thankfully, if anything goes wrong with the typewriters, we live in Portland; haven of heavy antiquated equipment. Resources and repair shops are everywhere.

Painting, Shelley