Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Presidential Biography: J.Q. Adams

Photo of John Quincy Adams

I recently finished John Quincy Adams A Public Life, A Private Live by Paul Nagel.  I don't recall enjoying a presidential biography as much as this one.  Mr. Nagel wrote a compelling account of the remarkable life of a remarkable American.

I don't want to detract from Mr. Nagel's writing, but I imagine a biography of John Quincy Adams would not be the most difficult one to write.  In the family tradition, he was a prolific writer, keeping a journal consistently from boyhood until death.  Living across the Atlantic from the ever-flowing pens of John and Abigail further contributed to the body of first-hand records of his life.  While there must be plenty of written documentation available, Mr. Nagel did a fine job of distilling the information into a highly readable, not-too-detailed account.

One thing I've enjoyed about reading these presidential biographies back-to-back is that it has allowed me to see how the lives of the founding fathers and mothers overlapped.  Each biography exposes a new facet of the lives of these men and women.  This particular biography was unique in its exploration of the conflicted relationship between JQA and his mother.  It is the first time I've read anything that put Abigail in a negative light.  I came to understand that the pressure put on JQA from an early age left him inwardly frustrated, a man of science and letters who felt compelled to make a mark on the world.   As a result, despite his every natural inclination, he entered the world of politics.  It was a world for which he was not initially well-suited despite ideal education and experience.  After his presidency, which was a failure, he finally hit his political stride as a vocal and tireless (and cantankerous) opponent of slavery in the House of Representatives.

If you are at all interested in the lives of presidents or the founding fathers, I highly recommend this book.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Washington by Land, Air and Sea

Last week our family went on a family vacation to northwest Washington.  It was well timed.  Temperatures in Oklahoma were forecasted to be in the 100s, while Washington temperatures topped out in the 70s.

Our first stop was Seattle where we visited the usual tourist haunts like The Pike Place Market

and took in some culture at the stunning Chiluly Garden and Glass exhibit.

Our favorite Seattle activity was rather surprising to me.  You see, for over ten years I lived down the road from Branson, Missouri, all the while looking down my nose at those people and their yellow beaks quacking their way across town.

Turns out (as is usually the case) I was missing out on all the fun.  Riding The Ducks was a hoot!  And while it was Seattle not Branson, I discovered there's no better way to learn about a city then to have it described by a man wearing a goofy hat while riding an amphibious vehicle from World War II with fellow undignified tourists from around the world.

After, Seattle, we headed north to Everett and toured the Boeing plant.  We saw the areas where they assemble the 747, the 777 and the 787.  This was the trip highlight for my husband and son.

Whidbey Island was our next destination, a short ferry ride form Everett.  It was beautiful and tranquil.

While there, we enjoyed time on the beaches

and experienced some wildlife and seasickness on the Puget Sound.

As an added bonus, one of the quaint island towns was holding a Shakespeare Festival the week we were on the island, so we got to watch an outdoor production of The Taming of the Shrew.  My kids still can't believe their luck!

Despite all we saw and experienced, as we weary travelers drove home from the airport, my kids declared Oklahoma to be the most beautiful place of all.  You've got to appreciate loyalty.

Monday, September 1, 2014

August 2014 Progress

Our month was cut a week short by a vacation we took last week.  We still accomplished much!

Classical Conversation

We started our sixth year with Classical Conversations.  This is my son's first year in Essentials and both kids' second time through Cycle 3.


Shaping Hearts for God Bible curriculum studying the life of Jesus

My son finished learning the 23rd Psalm and is working on learning Matthew 5:3-12 (The Beatitudes).



RightStart Mathematics Level C - Lessons 58 through 70 (multiplication and fractions)
Singapore Math's Challenging Word Problems Level 1 - pages 146 through 159 (time)
Dreambox - logged 20 minutes for the month


Saxon Level 5/4 - through Lesson 31 (starting multiplication review)
Dreambox - logged 20 minutes for the month



Writing With Ease Level 2 - Week 24 through Week 29


IEW's  U.S. History -Based Writing Lessons - Completed Lesson 1

English Grammar

Her:  Classical Conversations English grammar memory, week 1


First Language Lessons Level 3 - finishing up with Dictionary Skills


Her:   Level 3 of All About Spelling - Step 11 through Step 13

Him: Level 4 of All About Spelling - Step 21 through 23


None.  We're focusing on Bible memory work for a few weeks.


Classical Conversations Week 1 memory work and experiments


We are continuing to read non-fiction and historical fiction chronologically through American history.

Early European Settlements:

James Towne Struggle for Survival by Marcia Sewall (Read Aloud)
"King James's Town" from SOTW Volume 4 (RA)
The New Americans: Colonial Times (1620 to 1689) by Betsy and Giulio Maestro (RA)
The Thanksgiving Story by Alice Dalgliesh (Her IR)
Small Wolf by Nathaniel Benchley (Her independent reading)
The Courage of Sarah Noble by Alice Dalgliesh (Her IR)
Jamestown New World Adventure by James E. Knight (His IR)

Literature and Required and Free Reading

Tales from Shakespeare by Charles Lamb - read King Lear, Macbeath, and All's Well That Ends Well (RA)


Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert O'Brien 
Firestar's Quest by Erin Hunter

Fine Arts

Her:  Finished "Minuet in G" by Bach and various Irish fiddle tunes

Him:  Finished "Concerto No. 5 in D Major, Op. 11, 1st Movement" by F. Seitz and various Irish fiddle tunes


Visited a glass art exhibit by artist Dale Chihuly

Attended a performance of Shakespeare's "The Taming of the Shrew"