Friday, August 18, 2017

Tree classification

I've decided to record some of my *very important* tree classification notes here. I can't believe my entire tree vocabulary has been reduced to "tree" my entire life. These wonderful Montessori conferences explain how small children will absorb any vocabulary you say to them, so you should start with flower and then specify "dandelion" or "rose". The more complex the word, the better it is for their brain. Well, now I can start to do that with trees. Every time I walk or drive around I try to look at the tree shapes and trunks and my head almost explodes from thinking about how many different types of trees there are in the world and how I will never learn them all. Creation is really very beautiful and diverse.

London Plane tree (English)/ Plátano (Português)/ Platanus (Latin)
The first tree I learned to identify, after cork oak and pines, is the London Plane. By the way, I am almost exclusively using the Kingfisher Field Guides Trees of Britain and Europe pictured in that post. I was very excited to learn the London Plane because they are everywhere, in every playground and I remember them from my childhood! I clearly remember the spiky balls and wondering if that's where walnuts come from. Well friends, it's not. This is a tall tree that is easily spotted by its scaling bark with patches of creamy white and by its globular, spiky fruits.

Jacaranda/Jacarandá/Jacaranda mimosifolia
This took me forever and online help to identify because they are not flowering right now. When they are flowering, their purplish/blue flowers are easily spotted and fall everywhere, especially on your car. They are very common in Lisbon. And around my house, too. Luckily they still have their woody seed pods, which are tough and 2-3 inches big. They have leaves twice divided into leaflets.

Silver Birch/Vidoeiro branco/Betula pendula
I was happy to find a silver birch tree because they also remind me of my childhood neighborhood. They have beautiful smooth, white bark, they are slender and have long, green catkins (those caterpillar-like "fruits" of trees).

Red bottlebrush flower/Callistemon/Callistemon
This is actually a shrub, and not a tree, so I didn't find it in my book. But it is so common and I've seen it so many times that I wanted to know what it was called. And now I can see the difference between shrubs and trees better.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

20 weeks

If you read this blog and don't already know, we are expecting a third baby in January! We traveled to the US during first trimester, so that was a good way to distract myself from the morning sickness. Then we got back and had a little scare (blood loss), mandated rest, then I got sick, Davy got sick and I got sick again. And it took forever to get my regular energy back. I thought I never would. But then I did and my second trimester has been going swell. Almost 20 weeks and I can't believe how much I already love and am excited about meeting this new little person God has blessed us with. I was scared and thought I would be embarrassed about announcing it to people (since we live in the country with one of the lowest birth rates in the world, and this baby and Davy will be 18 months apart)... but I'm surprisingly not. I just feel so incredibly blessed, like the luckiest person in the world, walking around with my sandals, pot belly and rambunctious toddlers.

"With great affection I urge all future mothers: keep happy and let nothing rob you of the interior joy of motherhood.  Your child deserves your happiness.  Don’t let fears, worries, other people’s comments or problems lessen your joy at being God’s means of bringing a new life to the world.  Prepare yourself for the birth of your child, but without obsessing, and join in Mary’s song of joy: 'My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit exults in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant' (Lk 1:46-48).  Try to experience this serene excitement amid all your many concerns, and ask the Lord to preserve your joy, so that you can pass it on to your child."

- From Amoris Laetitia by Pope Francis, n 171

Monday, August 14, 2017

Food for thought for stay-at-home-moms

"When Deirdre and John were here this weekend and telling us about Paris, I was remembering times I spent in Europe, back when mothers went to the market for the day’s food, carrying a straw bag and bringing home enough for the meals and a little more. My aunt actually married a German man and lived this life.

Marketing in the morning, large meal at midday, light “collation” in the evening, warm rolls delivered early to the doorstep, eaten for breakfast with unsalted butter and coffee (although I personally don’t like coffee. I know).

We were thinking about how, if the mother is the manager of her home, the family eats simply but well.

I don’t know why being the manager of the home (leaving aside being its heart, and just purely looking at things job-wise) is considered… nothing.

Have you been to a hotel recently? Maybe to stay, or for a reception? Can you imagine even thinking, 'This hotel is great. It’s comfortable, welcoming, clean, and refreshing. The food tastes homemade. It’s wonderful that this hotel has no manager.'

The amazing thing about being the manager of your own home is that it’s just such a pleasure. Listen, everything has its downside; nothing is perfect. But the freedom to decide when, where, and how to do things, taking into consideration only the opinions of those you love, why, that’s a pleasure.

Well, it can be!"

From "Okay, this is the salad post." by Leila Lawler 

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Book club and habits

We are still deciding/discerning whether our kids will be homeschooled or what school they will go to, but in the midst of this I feel like I am homeschooling myself. My main goals are reading and music, in my case piano playing. I think if we could be really great readers and have lots of books, and play instruments together, that would be the foundation for all the rest. Sports we'll outsource. Other academic subjects, too. But reading and music I feel passionate about not outsourcing.

I am not the voracious reader I thought I was. Or I used to be in sixth grade. I mainly want to buy books online, but then they pile up in a big, tall stack of books "to read". My Little Catholic Bubble Book Club on Facebook has been really motivating in that sense. I have a deadline each week to read a certain amount, which if I didn't have a deadline I wouldn't read. I've already read St. Catherine of Siena by Sigrid Undset, The Power and the Glory and now The Power of Silence, which are books I wouldn't have picked by myself or wouldn't have read so quickly, but the book club really helps. See pic above of the "his" and "her" bookmarks I made for my husband too, who wanted to read along with me.

The piano playing is another story. Maybe I need a club? Or some guidance? I know I can't get around the "grind" of a little practice every day, but I haven't been successful yet.

And on the subject of homeschooling, here is a really great article: My Education in Home Schooling

Tuesday, August 08, 2017

The Outdoor Life of Children by Charlotte Mason

Image result for the outdoor life of children charlotte masonI loved this little book of writings by Charlotte Mason on nature, compiled by Deborah Taylor-Hough. As she says in her forward, "Basically, go outside with your kids as often as you can. You'll all be healthier, happier, and will learn a thing or two in the process." I was incredibly inspired by this book to appreciate nature even more, and learned some practical tips on how to start all learning from nature. I still have a few years before Adelaide can keep a nature journal, so I am taking advantage of them to learn as much about tree, plant and animal classification as I can. I know NOTHING. Here are some of my favorite quotes

"People who live in the country know the value of fresh air very well, and their children live out of doors, with intervals within for sleeping and eating."

"Never be within door when you can rightly be without."

"In this time of extraordinary pressure, educational and social, perhaps a mother's first duty to her children is to secure for them a quiet growing time, a full six years of passive receptive life, the waking part of it spent for the most part out in the fresh air."

"A great deal has been said lately about the danger of overpressure, of requiring too much mental work from a child of tender years. The danger exists; but lies, not in giving the child too much, but in giving him the wrong thing to do, the sort of work for which the presente state of his mental development does not fit him."

"Whoever saw a child tired of seeing, of examining in his own way, unfamiliar things?"

"It is infinitely well worth of the mother's while to take some pains every day to secure, in the first place, that her children spend hours daily amongst rural and natural objects; and, in the second place, to infuse into them, or rather to cherish in them, the love of investigation."

"A love of Nature, implanted so early that it will seem to them hereafter to have been born in them, will enrich their lives with pure interests, absorbing pursuits, health, and good humour."

"The mother's real difficulty will be to keep herself from much talk with the children, and to hinder them from occupying themselves with her. There are few things sweeter and more precious to the child than playful prattle with her mother; but one thing is better - the communing with the larger Mother, in order to which the child and she should be left to themselves."

"But, pray, let him work with things and not signs - the things of Nature in their own places, meadow and hedgerow, woods and shore."

"The child who does not know the portly form and spotted breast of the thrush, the graceful flight of the swallow, the yellow bill of the blackbird, the gush of song which the skylark pours from above, is nearly as much to be pitied as those London children who 'had never seen a bee'."

"It would be well if we all persons in authority, parents and all who act for parents, could make up our minds that there is no sort of knowledge to be got in these early years so valuable to children as that which they get for themselves of the world they live in."

"We were all mean to be naturalists, each in his degree, and it is inexcusable to live in a world so full of the marvels of plant and animal life and to care for none of these things."

"He must live hours daily in the open air, and, as far as possible, in the country; must look and touch and listen; must be quick to note, consciously, every peculiarity of habit or structure, in beast, bird, or insect; the manner of growth and fructification of every plant. He must be accustomed to ask why - Why does the wind blow? Why does the river flow? Why is a leaf-bud sticky? And do not hurry to answer his questions for him; let him think his difficulties out so far as his small experience will carry him."

"In Science, or rather, nature study, we attach great importance to recognition, believing that the power to recognise and name a plant or stone or constellation envolves classification and includes a good deal of knowledge. To know a plant by its gesture and habitat, its time and its way of flowering and fruiting; a bird by its flight and song and its times of coming and going; to know when, year after year, you may come upon the redstart and the pied fly-catcher, means a good deal of interested observation, and of, at any rate, the material for science."