Gratitude in the Time of Coronavirus

Gratitude in the Time of Coronavirus

A lot has changed in the past two weeks. Every day I check the RIVM (Dutch version of the CDC) for current information on the alarming rise in covid-19 cases. Although they make it clear the number is an extreme underestimate, since testing is limited to at-risk people with serious symptoms, and only one per household. No, who am I kidding. I check it multiple times per hour, even though I know they only update it once a day around 3pm.

On Thursday the Dutch government limited gatherings to under 100 and told everyone to work from home if possible, but–crucially–did not close schools (or restaurants, bars, etc.,… Read more

Dutch Education Explained

Dutch Education Explained

When we decided to make a long-term move to the Netherlands, one of the things we had to think about was what to do for the kids’ education. Our family default has historically been homeschooling, and we’ve had a rocking good time all over the world doing that. I can’t take credit for the thoughtful, well-read, interesting, articulate people my children are; they have largely accomplished that on their own. But I like to think I’ve put the fewest possible barriers in their way. I’ve tried not to dampen any of their natural passion for learning, and they’ve spent many hours at the library, and many more outside, catching frogs, swimming at the beach, climbing trees, and playing in the dirt.… Read more

Palaces and Puppet Shows

Palaces and Puppet Shows

One of the things we love about living in Amsterdam is visiting the city centre. While Amsterdam is famous for its multitude of, shall we say, earthly delights, there are also plenty of wonderful family-friendly activities here. Shortly after we arrived, we bought ourselves the Museumkaart, a card that allows you to get into most of Amsterdam’s museums and other historical sites like the Anne Frank House for free.

Our first couple of times using the cards at the Rijksmuseum and the Van Gogh Museum were somewhat less than successful, due to a combination of crowds, long lines, and insufficient parental ingenuity.… Read more

Game of Thrones, Falling in Honey, Bigger on the Inside, and Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Lives and Times

Game of Thrones, Falling in Honey, Bigger on the Inside, and Doctor Who: The Doctor’s Lives and Times

Doctor Who

It’s been a while since I published a book review. As is probably obvious, I spend most of my discretionary time these days watching Doctor Who. It’s still not clear whether my infatuation will eventually burn itself out, or develop into a lifelong love affair. Of course I am hoping for the latter–doesn’t everyone who’s in love want it to last forever? In the meantime, I just signed my daughter up for an online homeschooling class entitled Traveling Through History With Doctor Who, because who doesn’t need another excuse to watch a Doctor Who episode every week and then write papers and do projects relating it to history, science, literature and ethics?… Read more

Austen, Steampunk, Star Wars Art, Life of Fred, and Flunking Sainthood

What Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles SolvedWhat Matters in Jane Austen?: Twenty Crucial Puzzles Solved by John Mullan

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It’s hard for me to resist a book about Jane Austen. And this one did not disappoint. Mullan raises all sorts of deceptively simple questions, from what the weather was to when and how the characters blush to how long the bereaved wear mourning. His answers reveal the genius of Austen’s subtle manipulation of the simple everyday happenings of life in 19th century Britain, and how even seemingly insignificant details shape and reveal her plots. Apparently, everything matters in Jane Austen.

Although this book did give me some additional historical insight, what I really enjoyed were the plot analysis and learning about how Austen invented literary devices to make the novel more powerful and greatly influenced later writers.… Read more

A Fossilized Birthday

Last Tuesday was Axa’s 8th birthday. We spent the morning at the Daytona Museum of Arts and Sciences. They had quite an interesting mishmash of exhibits, including a room devoted entirely to art depicting space flight, and another of Spanish conquistador weapons.

But Axa’s favorite, and the reason we went to the museum on her birthday (other than the fact that it was the first Tuesday of the month, and free to Volusia County residents) was the beautifully preserved fossil skeleton of a giant ground sloth.

On the way home from the museum, we finally had the experience we’ve been waiting for since we moved to Florida: an encounter with wild alligators!… Read more

Organizing My Bookshelves, Part 1

When I asked on Facebook for suggestions on organizing my home library, I was amused to find that multiple people suggested organizing the books by color. Now nobody is denying that a bookshelf organized by color is very pretty. But how do you find the books once you’ve organized them?

Maybe I just have too many books. When I got ready to do my organizing overhaul, I thought it might be fun to count. My off-the-cuff estimate was around 500. The grand total, though, after going through every room in the house, was 805 books. Not counting the 100-or-so library books in the house at any given moment.… Read more

Casteluzzo Academy 2013, Term 1

A week or so ago I alluded to a major change-up in the way that we are doing homeschool. We recently ditched some books that weren’t working, and added a whole new list of wonderful books that so far seem pretty great.

Another aspect of the change is that we are doing more of our homeschooling together. I had always imagined having a separate stack of books for each child, and only doing the really obvious things like art and composer study together. But that was back in the days when we were having a child every two years or so, and weren’t going to stop until we got to five or six, like our parents.… Read more

A Whole New Year of Homeschooling

When I started out homeschooling my children I swore that I would not be one of those schizophrenic homeschooling moms who is addicted to curricula and constantly switches from one to another. And it should have been an easy resolution to keep. After all, I decided to homeschool before my oldest child was even conceived, and spent a good portion of the first few years of her life exhaustively researching homeschooling methods and curricula. My plan was to find the perfect curriculum and follow it perfectly with my perfectly predictable children from preschool through 12th grade.

And then life happened. Turns out my children are no more predictable than I am, and what works for them is not necessarily always what I originally envisioned would work for all my hypothetical children.… Read more