June Links: Loving Latin!

I've spent many free hours this month putting together a labor of love: a Latin interactive notebook (INB.)

I became a fan of INBs while teaching algebra to my 8th grader. For subjects such as math or Latin grammar, an interactive notebook serves as a concise collection of easily retrievable information. Making my INB has provided some great review of Latin grammar for me, as I am pretty sure it will in the fall when I have each of my youngest sons assemble their own versions.

 (I'll toss in a few pics here so you get the idea of what it looks like.)

As I've been working on my Latin INB, I've come up with some fun Latin sites, so for this month's "links" post, I wanted to share these sites and articles.


So, as you know, the Romans ruled Britain for a couple hundred years and left an indelible mark on what became modern English. Well, it seems in contemporary England using Latin phrases is considered snooty and discriminatory. In 2008 the Bournemouth Council banned a whole slew of Latin words and phrases including bona fide and status quo. Here's their list to avoid along with their suggested plain-speak alternatives. (I found it a useful list of terms I DO want my boys to master.)

Do your kids wonder why they should study Latin anyway? They might be interested in 18 Ordinary Words that Julius Caesar Spoke or this list of 300+ words from "Latin Lives On" that have been used for almost 2000 years virtually unchanged. Or read Karen Moore's answer to the question as to why anyone might want to study this dead language. (She's the author of Classical Academic Press's high school series, Latin Alive.)

Here's one of my favorite pages in the INB. It has a pocket which holds a fan-folded booklet of a tale called "An Adventure with a Lion."  In this story, which must come from some old Latin primer, a hunter encounters a lion, and each page illustrates a preposition.

My favorites? "In leone" ( = on top of the lion) and "In leonem ( = inside the lion.) The noun case makes all the difference!

Many of the INB pages are simply copies of charts from our Latin for Children textbooks. Classical Academic Press has a number of free support products including a set of verb and noun ending printable charts  (right page below.)
Present tense verbs 

Speaking of Classical Academic Press, if you are using their materials, make sure you avail yourself of their funtastic Headventureland site! My boys use this almost daily to review vocabulary, and this past year I signed Ben up for the paid site so he could access more features.

Every spring some in my family take the National Mythology Exam, and when we have high school Latin students, they take the National Latin Exam. Here are some tips for preparing for the NLE. If you are interested in either test, make sure to register your students before the end of the calendar year. There's also an Exploratory Latin Exam available for students in grades 3-6. Registration for that test ends on March 1.

And carae magistrae, do you not think this Colosseum sofa would make a superb seat from which to teach Latin?

Teaching Latin gives students a great base for English vocabulary development and is one of the best ways to teach grammatical analysis. But there's no doubt that it isn't all that useful as a spoken language. So if you are wondering what non-dead language to teach your kids, you might want to take a look at The World's Most Spoken Languages in a Single Infographic (Hint: Latin doesn't even show up.)  Foreign languages at home can be especially tough. Daughter Faith is currently using Mango Languages to learn German. Many public libraries, ours included, offer the online Mango program which is comparable to, but in my opinion, superior to, Rosetta Stone.

Welcome, Baby Eliza!

Eliza Marigold - June 10, 2015

Our fourth granddaughter arrived this week, exactly on her due date! Her sisters were pretty excited when they woke up to find she had arrived during the night.

Isn't she a little beauty?
Though I didn't make it in time for her birth, I hightailed it north in the morning and was able to spend a couple of days in the busy, happy household.

It was great fun making Eliza's name quilt, which is based on this very simple Moda pattern and lively, modern fabrics from the Connecting Threads's Oh Clementine collection.  (The only deviation I made was in how I appliqu├ęd the name. I didn't think the raw edge technique used in the sample quilt would hold up well, so I used turned edges and then further strengthened the edges with buttonhole stitching.)

It's backed with daisy fabric, though if I'd known her middle name early enough, I think I would have searched high and low for a marigold print. 

There wasn't quite enough fabric to back the quilt, so I added a stripe of leftover fabric for some funky fun.

Prayer Tools: Note cards (Prayer Part IV)

This is my bedside table, complete with my daily devotional tools.

Where's the Bible?
   Glad you asked! It's in the drawer. I use my Kindle for daily Bible reading. I keep three translations on it (NAS95, NKJV, and ESV) so I can easily read in the Old and New Testaments and Psalms simultaneously without messing with bookmarks. Most days I also read from Spurgeon's Morning and Evening devotional.

And what's that blue thing?
   That's my memory card binder. I use the same card system to learn and review passages I use with my boys, but with passages that are particularly pertinent to my life. Reviewing cards just takes a few minutes, and I often squeeze this in while drying my hair in the morning.   (More on Scripture memory here.)

But what's the pink box?
Ah - that is what this post is really about. The pink box holds my set of prayer cards.

For the longest time I'd known that my prayer life was pathetic. I wanted to be praying fervently and consistently for my family, my friends, my church, other people and events. I should be spending consistent, concerted, daily time in prayer, but how could I make it happen? Sometimes I'd try one thing for a while, and then something else. But all too often I'd just make pitiful stabs and feel guilty for not being more intentional. After we started using a simple method to help us with Bible memory review (see this post,) I realized a similar idea could help me to organize my prayer life. There were several things I hope to accomplish.

My ideal prayer plan would:

1. Allow me to come before the Lord regularly to worship Him, seek His face, and ask for His work in the lives of my family, loved ones, church, and others.
Beloved folk - part of my motivation to pray

2. Remind myself of what God says about prayer.

3. Use scripture to guide my prayers.

4. Have flexibility to allow for the realities of life (In other words, I needed something that doesn't get totally messed up when I miss a day.)

5. Be simple, but not just a system that would become a rote chore to be accomplished each day.

6. Have enough variety to keep it fresh  --  while at the same time --

7. Not be so complicated or cumbersome I'd only use it once in a blue moon.

And so about 18 months ago my prayer note card box was born.


- 3x5 index card holder (Find one that you find attractive and will hold up to daily use)

- 31 numbered daily dividers (1-31)

- 3x5 index cards in various colors.
      I made most of mine from card stock and from file folders.
      31 each of four or so colors  (I used orange, manila, yellow, and white)
      12 or so of another color  (I used peach)
      1 each of 5 colors  (I used purple, pink, blue, green, and yellow)

- Bible and pen

I have around 150 cards in my set, but I've built it over time. Starting with far fewer works well.

I began by making cards for each of the most important people in my life. (These cards are like those described by Paul Miller in The Praying Life.) A typical "person" card has requests on one side and scripture on the back. Like these:

The requests are just a snapshot of that person's life, showing various aspects of their life and typically list longer term requests. I don't have to write the shorter term things going on because I can remember those things. But I don't want to lose sight of the spiritual and character issues or other long-term matters. These cards don't change all that frequently, though from time to time I'll jot something new down.

But I wanted to be praying for many other things, so over a bit of time I added more cards, some of which stay put behind their day of the month tab and others which travel as I cycle through them. I'll explain about the traveling and the stationary cards which make up the bulk of my set in the next prayer post.

What Worked/ What Didn't In Our Homeschool This Year

I'm in evaluation mode, taking stock of progress made in our homeschool this year and starting to get some idea about where we'll be aiming next. I started by brainstorming about the things that went well, those that could be better, and the areas I was really disappointed with. Here's what I came up with:

I've been homeschooling four students this year: Amanda (12th grade), Faith (11th), Paul (8th), and Ben (5th.) This list doesn't cover everything we did but just those things which occurred as working particularly well or needing to be changed either a little or a lot. You might notice that more of these items concern the boys than the girls. Amanda, who is heading to Purdue in the fall,  primarily took dual credit classes at our community college. As upper high school students, both she and Faith have a good trajectory set already and things hum along pretty well for them. With the boys, though, there's still a lot of ground to cover. :)

For the next couple of weeks I'll be up to my ears in record keeping and evaluations. It's not my favorite part of the summer "planning" process, but it gives us important documentation of where we've been and helps guide the future.

New Feature: Monthly Links

I'm going to try a new feature at the end of each month to highlight helpful blog posts or articles I've run across. Since we've just finished school, the theme this month is Summer!

May Links: Summertime, Summertime!

At the beginning of summer I'm always trying to figure out how to keep my children gainfully occupied. This becomes especially tricky for those who have grown past the easy "play all day" years and into the teen time, but are still not old enough to drive or have regular employment elsewhere. Several do 4-H, some have various jobs, and everyone works on pursuing individual crafts and interests. But still I find myself searching for productive ways to fill these days. Here are some ideas:


Preparing for the 'Teen Years': Gwen is a U.K. homeschooler who lives on one of the Hebrides islands in Scotland. This article talks about having your teen work on a set of physical, spiritual, intellectual, and practical challenges. And what better time to do this than when teens have extra time on their hands?

Yes, unicycling does show up on the President's Challenge list!

Several of my kids have used The Presidential Challenge as they've worked on their high school P.E. requirements. They participated in Presidential Champions program which has a free online activity tracker. Every time they were involved in some type of physical activity, whether it was running a couple of miles or push mowing a lawn, they entered it into the tracker. Participants earn various awards at different point levels. Two of our kids enjoyed running so much, they have continued on long after completing the requirements for a Gold Medal. Our new high school student will get started on the program this summer.


Summer means extra time to read - hurrah! - both for me and for the kids. Many local libraries offer summer reading programs, but here are a couple of online ones you might like to try.

Exodus Books is a West Coast supplier of new and used books. They have one of the best booklists I've seen in a long time. Exodus also has a summer reading program based on their booklist. You'll need to pay $5 to register each child, but if they read 5 books from the list at their reading level or higher, they will receive a gift certificate for $5 with opportunities to earn other prizes as well.  My three youngest are planning to do this contest which begins tomorrow, June 1. (Tip: When you sign up, to avoid shipping charges, choose the option to "pick up" your order locally. This is what the folks at the bookstore told me to do to avoid the unnecessary but otherwise automatic shipping fee.)

Redeemed Reader usually also puts on a summer reading program, complete with read alongs and study guides. This year the site is busy undergoing major renovations, so they have the
Redeemed Reader Summer Reading Challenge Lite.  And here's a post that RR's Megan, a former children's librarian,  has written on Five Ways to Maximize Your Library This Summer.

Sometimes an audio book fits the bill better than a printed one. Audio File Sync is offering two free downloads of young adult books each week this summer, one new book and one classic. I sure won't vouch for every (most?) of the titles they are offering, but some of the classics are winners. On Week 10, for example, Around the World in 80 Days will be available, and Little Women is the selection for Week 12. You can peruse their 14 week listing and see if anything strikes your fancy.


A big part of my summer to-do list always involves organizing things: the house, school records from the past year and plans for the next year, clothes, books, etc. Here are some helps.

This summer I want to organize my online reading, and I'm going to try to better use Feedly. Here's an "Unofficial Guide to Feedly" which looks promising.  Feedly themselves offer this tutorial.

Decluttering always occupies part of each summer around here. Last summer I used some of the ideas and printable lists from the "40 Bags in 40 Days" Challenge  to keep track of my progress. I didn't hit 40 days, but the written record of the progress we did make was encouraging. I'll probably just pick up where I left off last year.

Getting rid of unneeded items does help bring peace and order to our homes. But here's an article which provides some balance to the "Less is More" mantra that seems to be everywhere right now. If your a teensy bit tired of the minimalist movement, check out Can We Declutter Our Way to Christ?

I'd also like to get serious about keeping track of my personal reading. I've recently begun using GoodReads, but this summer I hope to set up different book shelves and put some of the nifty features of this site to use. I think this tutorial will be very helpful. But if that fails, I'm going to order a simple reading log like The Book Lover's Journal or Reading Journal: For Book Lovers.


Speaking of using a book rather than a computer program to record information, NPR's Morning Edition recently ran a piece on why so many people today still prefer paper notebooks. Listen or read the transcript of "In a Digital Chapter, Paper Notebooks are as Relevant as Ever."

And that's it for my May round up. Happy Summer!

I'll bet You've Never Seen Kipling Illustrated Like This...

The kids in our co-op have been practicing elocution this year, and for our finale next week they are all planning to dramatically recite a piece of poetry. Kipling's masterpiece about what it means to be a man, If, is the choice of my 14-year old son, Paul. This entire four stanza poem is comprised of one very long sentence. Realizing that Paul was struggling to keep straight the contents of each stanza, the elocution teacher suggested he create some visual reminders of the sequence in this poem.

So Paul turned to his favorite medium: Lego bricks.

I'm not sure if Rudyard Kipling would roll over in his grave or laugh at this, but it makes me chuckle. So here goes...


By Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you 
 Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,    

Our hero
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
(Triumph in red; Disaster in black)
       And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son! 

Dear Fellow Trainers of Elephants: Happy Mother's Day! (Originally published in May, 2012)

The Taming of the Shrew, Act 5

When Peter was a junior in high school, his Potter's School English lit teacher would sometimes assign the students to write an imitation of a specific passage of a work. Students had to examine an author's phrasing, word choices, and sentence lengths in order to write a sample in the same style but on a different subject. Peter chose to write about mothers as he created an imitation based on this speech from The Taming of the Shrew:

Shakespeare's version:

Thy husband is thy lord, thy life, thy keeper,
Thy head, thy sovereign; one that cares for thee
And for thy maintenance; commits his body
To watch the night in storms, the day in cold
Whilst thou liest warm at home, secure and safe;
And craves no other tribute at thy hands
But love, fair looks, and true obedience, -- 
Too little payment for so great a debt! 
Such duty as the subject owes the prince,
Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
And when she is froward, peevish, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to his honest will,
What is she but a foul contending rebel,
And graceless traitor to her loving lord?

 - Katharina to Petruchio, Act 5, Scene 2 

Peter's version:

Thy mother is thy mistress, thy guide, thy teacher
Thy keeper, thy shepherd; one that cares for thee
And for thy health; sacrifices her sleep
To aid you in the night of malady, in the day of fever
Whilst thou benefit from all her meals, strong and sound;
And desires no other payment from thy hands
But love, obedience, and unity with brothers, –
Too little payment for so great a debt!
Such duty as an elephant owes to his trainer,
Even such a child oweth to his mother;
And when he is naughty, lazy, sullen, sour,
And not obedient to her loving will,
What is he but a rebellious fool,
And a corrupt renegade to his loving mother?  


Peter's teacher's comment?
So sweet! Give this to your mama! :) 

Happy Mother's Day!