Friday, September 25, 2015

Happy Birthday, Verity!

Verity turned 1 yesterday!  I can't believe it was a year ago that she was born, one of my less eventful labors to be sure.  That was a gift from God, because having a baby the end of September for a homeschooling mother who also has a high school senior is the recipe for a mental breakdown right there, and a long, drawn-out, pitocin-induced labor with a hard recovery would have sent me over the edge for sure!  As it was, all her nursing troubles about did that anyway.  Bob and I thought for less than a nano-second about taking Verity with us to Colorado.  Hey, that's what happens when you decide to wean yourself back in August, way before Mom was ready to stop nursing!  So sorry (not really)!

Other than her nursing issues, Verity has been the most cooperative and happy baby ever.  She is so happy!  Her new thing she's started doing is nodding her head yes when you ask her something.  It is so cute!  While other unnamed kids have had "NO!" as their default response, Verity nods yes!  She's also started turning herself around to go down the stairs, which always makes me happy and relieved.  So mainly she just toddles around the house, babbling happily, totally content and secure that everyone who surrounds her adores her and dotes on her.  What a life.  Who wouldn't be happy?!  We're really thankful for her.  She is such a blessing!
We took dessert to Bible study tonight to celebrate.  Anna made cupcakes in her little cupcake maker, and she and Grace did the decorating while I was in biology lab this afternoon.  We also brought cookie dough brownies and sweet chex mix, since we only had 28 small cupcakes, and we knew that would never ever be enough.  Sure enough, there were 34 kids at Bible study tonight--along with 19 adults!  We're a fertile bunch.
Verity was not sure what to think about the singing and the candle.  Big siblings had to assist with blowing out the candle.
Afterward, though, she turned into a real party animal, dancing on the table!  We're going to have to watch this one!  She also thoroughly enjoyed her cupcake and some brownie.  Yum!  She didn't get any real presents though.  We have "1 year" baby toys out the wazoo, and I wasn't about to get something else just so she could unwrap something that she won't even remember. We did get passport pictures taken of her last night, as a special way to celebrate, LOL.  We're hoping to take another space-a adventure sometime, and she'll need her own passport for that!

Thursday, September 24, 2015

One last Colorado Post--Aspens and Views

Since I blog mainly as a scrapbook, and since I am quite anal-retentive in this area, I can't go on to anything else without posting about the last few days of our Colorado trip.  Then things would be out of order, you see, and that would be terribly bothersome.  Also, if I never blog about it, then I'll probably forget what happened, and 12 years later, when we go on another getaway and I'm trying to remember the last one, there will be nothing recorded, and that would be terribly sad, because it was such a great trip.  So here is one last Colorado post to wrap it all up.

Friday Bob had meetings in the morning again, but they got out before lunch.  I had been walking around the little shops looking for some souveniers, so Bob came back with me to help me make some final decisions.   We had a picnic by the stream while we talked about what to do with the afternoon.  We had to be back at 6:30 for a company dinner, so we didn't want to go far away.  We ended up buying tickets to ride the gondolas.  They were $30/person, but we got unlimited trips up and down both gondolas, and it was another beautifully gorgeous day.  I was a little nervous about the gondolas, but they were so smooth and quiet, and I ended up really enjoying the trips.  Saturday night, while we were watching that Vail documentary, it mentioned 1976 where 2 gondolas go caught up on a frayed wire and plummeted hundreds of feet to the ground, killing 4 people and injuring many others. Yeah . . . I was glad I watched that AFTER our fun afternoon, LOL.  I'm sure everything is much, much safer now . . .
It was neat to watch the village fall away.  Our hotel is the white one in the middle of the screen, by the base of the gondola.
The aspens were so beautiful.  We were there at the perfect time!
This is at the top of the Eagle Bahn gondola.  It had a stunning view of the Sawatch range that just went on and on.  We actually went up and down both gondolas a couple times, and the second time we came up here, there was a wedding getting ready to happen!  I can't imagine a more stunning place.
We hiked a mile across the mountain to the other gondola.  It was lovely--through meadows and forests.  The scope of Vail is so huge.  It has 5500 acres of ski-able terrain, which is pretty unfathomable.
As we walked back through Vail Village to the other gondola again, we went through Oktoberfest, where we listened to some rousing polka music.
Saturday the entire day was free, and so we went back over to Leadville.  I had made reservations for us on the Leadville Colorado and Southern Railroad for their special aspen-viewing train ride, which was 3 hours long.  Again, it was a beautiful day, and the aspens were stunning.  We sat in an outside car, which made it a little chilly in the shade (it was only about 40 degrees and a bit breezy), but we had unhampered views of the mountains and the gloriously clear blue sky, so it was okay to be a little cold.  Bob got us hot chocolate from the little concession stand in the middle of the train halfway through the ride.

We had a little break at this adorable water tower where we could all get off the train and stretch our legs.  Drew loves water towers, so we had to make sure we got a picture of it.  A couple actually got engaged during the stop, so that was really fun and sweet to watch.
After the train ride, we ate a quick lunch at Subway and then headed over to the Healy House and Dexter Cabin Museum.  I had thought about going to the National Mining Museum, which I'm sure would also have been great, but when I was reading reviews, this one sounded really interesting in a more personal way.  The Dexter cabin was built by one of those men who struck it rich in Leadville's glory days.  He had several other cabins in other towns, so he could check up on all his operations, as well as a nice house in Denver for his wife and daughters.
The cabin looks rough on the outside, but on the inside it was really fancy!
I loved this lockable pantry.  This would have actually been for mining camps.  It had all these little compartments for various staples, and they could be locked so that the supplies didn't walk off.
Next was the Healy house, which was built for a man who never really lived in it.  His cousin (?) ended up living there and managing it for him, and she ran it as a boarding house.  As many as 22 people lived here in one time, and it went back quite a ways.  The house was furnished in all period pieces, but it wasn't one of those stuffy museums where you have to stay behind a rope and peer into each room.  No, you could really walk around and see everything, and our guide would just pick up random things, like a pipe, off the side tables or whatever to talk about.  It had a really approachable feel, and it gave a really great sense of what it was to live back in the late 1800s/early 1900s.
They had a room decorated for children with all these neat toys and dolls in there, even though any children living in there would have been in with their parents.
There were lots of pairs of boots around, and they were the skinniest things ever!  I could not see any of our family's blocky feet ever fitting into anything like there, LOL.
They also had a ton of dresses and hats displayed everywhere.  This was a wedding dress in the late 180s.  Next door was one from the early 1900s, and it was a lot more elaborate.   Interesting to see how styles changed so quickly.  In one room you could even try on several different hats.  I am glad I didn't grow up in an era when ladies had to wear hats--they just don't do much for me, LOL.
The house eventually had one bathroom, with one of those nest gravity flush toilets, with the big rectangular chamber above for water to flush.  Only the women and children were allowed to use the inside toilet though--the menfolk had to use the outhouse "unless the snow was at lest 3 feet high".  This bathtub actually is like a "murphy" bathtub, in that the tub part folds up against the wall so it doesn't take up so much space.  Interesting!
I loved the kitchen.  It's hard to imagine cooking for 22 people on a stove like that, and with just a small icebox.  The stove looks neat though!

Then we drove back across the mountains to Vail, where we ate dinner and packed up.  We flew back Sunday, and I can definitely say we both felt rested and refreshed.  It was such a fun vacation!  It was really hard to leave Colorado though.  I had forgotten how much I really love it out west!  The big spaces and sky are so soothing to my soul.  Maybe someday we'll be back to stay . . .

Monday, September 21, 2015

Leadville Excursion Plus Some Research

Thursday morning Bob and I woke up pretty early (still on eastern time!), so we worked out in the (predictably) very nice fitness room before showering and eating a delicious breakfast buffet with the other employees.  (The cinnamon rolls were amazing--flaky like croissants!)  Then while they had meetings, I went hiking with 4 other wives.  This is again where you can tell the fanciness of the hotel--they drove us in a hotel SUV to the trailhead, and then picked us back up when we called at the end of our hike.  It was so good to get out in the fresh Colorado air and sunshine!

After the meetings were over, Bob and I hopped in the car and drove down Rt. 24 to Leadville.  When we were stationed in Colorado Springs before, back in 1995-2001, I became very interested in Colorado history, especially of all the mining towns and colorful characters.  We made a trip to Telluride not long before we PCS'd, which was a real highlight of our time in CO for me, but we never made it out to Leadville.  It seemed overwhelming to plan a bunch of trips with (gasp) 2 little kids.  Haha!  In fairness, it was before the internet, and it was a lot harder to plan out trips.  But anyway, when I knew how close we would be this time, I for sure wanted to visit!
On our way over the mountains from Vail, we passed this big flat plain.  It dawned on me that this must be the place where Camp Hale used to be, where the 10th Mountain Division trained during World War II.  I have always been fascinated with that story too, so I bought a $3.00 booklet about them in one of the stores and spent a happy evening reading up on the unit.  Here is an account of their most famous battle to take Riva Ridge in Italy:
While the major elements of our attacking force were engaged in the darkness and bitter cold below Monte Belvedere, teams of picked rock climbers of the 1st Battalion of the 86th were assembling coils of ropes over their shoulders and clusters of pitons and other rock-climbing gear on their belts.
All the years of alpine training on Mount Rainier and Camp Hale, so publicized in newsreels and Hollywood movies, were now about to be tested. In fact, what developed was to be the only significant action in which the 10th had to use this most specialized kind of training. Nevertheless, no one in the War Department or in the 10th could later deny that this single exploit on Riva Ridge justified all the demanding training that had gone before.
A dusting of new snow covered the rock face and upper slopes of the mountains. The valley floor was a quagmire of freezing mud. Searchlights behind the combat area scanned the low—hanging wall of clouds and reflected a scattered, shadowy light over the terrain below. But the valley itself and the ridges were dark.
Climbing in the dead of night, members of the teams hammered steel pitons into the cracks in the rock, attached snap links to them, and then fastened ropes to the links which, hanging down, offered lines which those who followed could use to pull themselves up the vertical face of the ridge.
When the advance teams reached the top at approximately midnight, they signaled to the 1st Battalion units below that they could begin the ascent in force. These units advanced in a column of companies toward the foot of Riva Ridge and then split up, each taking a different route up the face of the cliff.
Fortunately, the haze which hung over the lower elevations of the ridge continued to help conceal the attacking mountaineers. With a biting and wet wind whipping them about, the climbers clambered cautiously up the wet rocks with the aid of the preset ropes, fearful that any dislodged rock that clattered down the cliff face would be followed by bursts of enemy machine guns and grenades.
Inevitably some rocks did fall, causing the climbers to halt in dread anticipation of the hail of death to follow. “Perfect fear casteth out love,” joked the Briton Cyril Connolly in his travesty of I John 4:18, and members of the 10th came to fully appreciate that remark in this introduction to combat.
By 4 A.M. on February 19, all three companies of the 1st Battalion, 86th, and Co. F of the 2nd had reached their separate objectives on top of the ridge unseen and had charged the holding units of the German 1044th Infantry Regiment with rifles and grenades. Surprise was complete.
“I don’t see how you did it,” one German defender stated. “We thought it was impossible for anyone to climb that cliff”
With the coming of daylight, the Germans began to launch the expected counterattack after counterattack, accompanied by heavy artillery fire on the ridge.
When accurate counterartillery bursts repulsed one attack, the Germans came back with their hands up, feigning surrender. After nearing the 1st Battalion positions, they dropped and began firing again, but were finally driven off with heavy casualties. One platoon alone, with the help of our supporting artillery, accounted for 26 Germans killed, 7 captured, and countless wounded.

Fascinating stuff!  Saturday night Bob and I watched a documentary on the history of Vail as we packed up.  Pete Seifert, one of the 10th Mountain veterans, was the one who bought the land and established the resort, which opened back in 1962.

In Leadville, we ate lunch at Subway and then we ended up just wandering through the little downtown shops, instead of going through the mining museum.  It was really fun.  We found a fascinating rock shop.  If I was teaching geology for my unit in the elementary co-op this year, I'm sure I would have spent all my money there!  We spent a good deal of time browsing through the whole shop.  It was so full of interesting rock and mineral samples.  It almost tempted me to start a rock collection!

As we drove back home, I totally missed the turn-off for Rt. 24, so we ended up going on 91 instead.  I realized my mistake a few miles down the road, but since we didn't have to be anywhere at any particular time, we decided to go this way anyway and see what there was to see.  What we found was the Climax Mine, at the top of Fremont Pass, which also had always interested me.  One of my chemistry professors in college had done a lot of research work with molybdenum, which is what is mined at the Climax.  It used to be huge, providing 3/4 of the world's molybdenum supply.  (Molybdenum is used to harden steel, among other things.)  It shut down for awhile, because molybdenum prices dropped, but it reopened in 2012, although not on such a grand scale as it used to be.  It used to be a regular underground mine, but at some point, they decided to convert to open-pit mining, so they blew up the mountain.  Now the pit is 1,000 feet deep.
As we continued on the drive, we saw this weird meadow with little ponds scattered throughout, and then further down, bigger bodies of water with a lot of weird crystallization in it.  When we got back to the hotel, I did some more research to figure out exactly what was going on there.  It turns out the whole area used to be tailing ponds for the Climax waste.  After the Climax stopped production, the few remaining employees turned their attention to reclamation of the ponds, because they sit at the headwaters of 3 major rivers, and because they receive about 25 inches of "surface water" a year, which is a lot of water in Colorado, where people are always fighting over water rights.  As this article from 2004 says, Climax spends millions of dollars a year to treat the water coming through the mine.  They were also able to transform one tailing pond into a small reservoir that meets drinking quality standards.
The picture above shows an even more interesting area.  It all used to be tailing ponds, which were capped by rock and soil to stabilize the surface.  Then a layer of topsoil was supposed to be added so that vegetation would grow, but since the area is at about 11,000 feet altitude, there's not much topsoil around.  So they contracted with the waste-water treatment plants to get their "sludge" (what is left after the water is treated), to which they add wood chips.  That lovely mixture is composted for a year, generating enough heat to kill off any pathological organisms, and then spread over the rocks.  The program used 5,000 tons of sludge a year back in 2004 when the article was written, and as you can see in the picture, most of the area has vegetation growing on it, so the program has been a huge success.  Climax has even won a bunch of awards for their reclamation efforts.
Here you can (barely) see some of the ponds that haven't been reclaimed yet.  They were the ones we originally noticed, since they look really mineral-y and weird.  Unfortunately there wasn't a pull-out closer to them, so there's no better picture.  I guess it wasn't considered a "scenic view", LOL.

So it was fun to fill my mind with something other than Latin and AP biology--and remember that I once had other interests, like the mining history of Colorado.  Maybe when I have time someday, I'l reread my stories of Baby Doe Tabor, et al.  One of my all-time favorite gifts was from my brother one Christmas when we lived in Colorado Springs--a book called Colorado 1870-2000, where a modern photographer, John Fielder, stood in the exact same places that a photographer named William Jackson stood in 1870, and you can compare the pictures side-by-side.  I thought it was fascinating back when Dan gave it to me, and now I can't wait to go through it again, especially now that I've been to more of the places in it!

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Vail Getaway

Once upon a time, back in 2003, Bob and I got away for the weekend with Amy and Jason.  Amy and I were both pregnant, me with Jonathan (#4) and her with Jacob.  We went to Amish country in northeastern Ohio and had an absolute ball.  That is where Bob and I ordered our wonderful 10 foot long kitchen table and chairs (although who ever thought we would fill it up?!), and we bought our coffee table and little wooden kids table and chairs.  The lesson we learned from that weekend is that it was a good thing none of us were born Amish, because we all looked rather dorky in Amish hats.  Thankfully, that was before the digital age for us, so no pictures will appear in this blog!  Anyhow, that was the last time Bob and I got away, except for 1 night after Grace was born, when we stayed in a local hotel and then spent the next day looking at dishwashers.  Whee!

But then Bob started working for a new company the end of June.  This company is owned by a wonderful Christian family, and the owner is an extremely generous man.  To celebrate a special anniversary for the company, he paid for all the employees and their spouses to fly out to Colorado and stay in a super-fancy hotel for 5 nights.  Wow!  This was so alien of a concept to us that it really didn't even seem like it would really happen, so I didn't even tell a lot of people about the trip.  But we left Wednesday and flew to Colorado--just the 2 of us!  My parents drove in from Ohio Monday night, and they held down the fort back here with all the kids.

It was heavenly.  We read on the airplane and didn't have to worry about keeping any little person quiet and occupied.  We rented a 4 door sedan, which seemed so small and quiet (also low to the ground and uncomfortable--remind me to not ever buy a Kia--the seat did NOT work for me!), and then we drove off into the mountains to Vail.  The company owner actually provided a bus to take everyone else to the hotel, but we rented a car because we were leaving a day earlier so I could come back and teach Latin, but also because we were going to have a lot of free time, and we wanted to explore!
The hotel (the Arrabelle) was amazing.  Quite a step up from the Comfort Inns we usually stay at!  Our room was huge and so uncluttered.  The staff was so helpful and attentive.  This was the kind of place that turned down the bed each night and left chocolates on the pillow.
Our room was in that corner tower on the 3rd floor.  It looked down into this little courtyard, which even had a skating rink, but I never did get a good picture of that view.
We had this little ipad thing instead of a clock.  When the maids turned down our bed at night, they would turn on the classical/jazz station.  I had to throw a t-shirt over it because it never really went dark, and I could never sleep with a screen lit up beside me!
There was even a TV in the bathroom, not that we ever used it.  The hotel provided big fluffy robes, and we used those to go to the rooftop hot tub Friday night.
The tub was really fancy too, although we never used it.  Had we so desired, we could have paid $50 for the maid to draw us a fancy bath with all sorts of extras.  Ha!  We are definitely not the usual clientele!  I guess this is how the upper .1% live.  Pretty swanky--but easy to get used to being spoiled, LOL.  I still can't believe that the company paid for us to stay there.  It was so relaxing!  

Bob had to go to meetings Thursday and Friday mornings, but the afternoons, plus all day Saturday (and Sunday, although we left that day) were free.  Having all that time that no one needed me and that I didn't really have to be anywhere or have anyone waiting for me was so wonderful.  The whole time was so refreshing to my soul.  

I was not totally enthusiastic about going because it seemed to me that it was too much hassle to actually get there.  When Bob first started talking about it back in July, I couldn't even deal with thinking about it.  As it got closer, I had to do a lot of shuffling to be able to go.  I had to switch a TNT aiding time, so I could teach biology and do lab all on last Tuesday, since I'd be gone on Friday when we normally do lab.  I had to make sure I was ahead in Latin, since we were getting back the night before the next Latin class.  I had to make sure I was ahead on bio too, since I knew I couldn't do everything Monday night after we got back.  And all of us dealt with some kind of cold/fever thing the week before we left, which was stressful.  I was still coughing and snuffly as we flew off.  But boy, oh boy, I had no idea really how nice it all would be.  No idea at all!  When we checked in, we received a new really nice backpack that was filled with stuff--new fleeces for both of us, company polos and t-shirts for both of us, snacks, and other odds and ends with the company logo.  It was amazing!  Then we had an amazing buffet dinner Wednesday night after we arrived (including beef tenderloin and all sorts of delicious desserts), delicious breakfast buffets Thursday and Friday, and another delicious company dinner on Friday.  The food was all so very good.  I can't even imagine how much it all cost!  We missed a really fancy dinner Sunday night at the restaurant on top of the mountain--you ride the gondola to get there.  Honestly, I've never dealt with a gov't contracting company who pampers their employees like that!  No wonder I couldn't imagine how nice it would be!  I am soooo glad I went.  It was so relaxing, which I really needed, and just so much fun.  Plus, I really enjoyed getting to know other people in Bob's company and their wives.  They were all really nice people!  One couple we were surprised to find out are our neighbors!  Bob and I were checking out the rooftop hot tub Thursday night to see if we wanted to go in when we ran into them.  We started chatting, and we found out we both lived in the same town.  Then Tony mentioned the neighborhood they lived in--and it was the same one as us!  We live in a really small neighborhood with only a few streets, so that was a total shocker!  We enjoyed getting to know them, and we sat at the same table with them during the Friday night company dinner too.  We also sat with a couple whose kids are in the elementary co-op with our kids.  Their daughter was in Jonathan's class!  Such a small world.  I really enjoyed the social aspects, which was surprising to me, since I am not as a rule exceptionally social, especially with strangers.  But I guess the family atmosphere and generous attitude of the owner really rubbed off, and everyone was really friendly.  

I'll have to post more later about what we did during our free time, since I'm pretty tired now, and I'm back to reality, including school and Latin tomorrow.  Sigh . . . it's like it all was wonderful dream . . . .

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Diving Back In

We finished up our second Tuesday of co-op classes for the year today.  Only 30 more to go!  It's no secret that I was so tired and burned out this summer.  Even contemplating the huge AP bio book was overwhelming.  The last time I taught it was such a hard year--Drew was born, the test had just been redesigned, and it was just so much work trying to get even a small handle on what needed to be taught.

Actually, what year hasn't been hard since we started back in 2010?  In the past 5 years I've had 3 babies, taught 6 new classes, gotten Nathan off to college . . . no wonder I've just been feeling so fried!

Christine, Michele, and I have been faithful about praying for Rivendell during our lunchtime, and the Lord has been so faithful to answer our prayers.  This year he sent in the cavalry--3 new families!  Karen is teaching the junior high science, which has taken a huge load off my plate, as I now only have to teach the high school.  Emily is teaching high school literature, and Kelly is teaching junior high lit.  Karen's mom is teaching junior high lit, so we really got a great deal there!  Having all this extra help has meant Christine was free to teach algebra, which our second wave of kids really needed, since they have not been the motivated self-taught learners our older boys were.  What a huge blessing these new families are.  I really can't say that enough!  We are so thankful for them!  Having some fresh new enthusiastic moms has been a real encouragement especially for Christine and me, who were just so tired.

This year is still not going to be easy, although I keep telling myself, at least I'm not having a baby!  But I'm beginning to think we might actually get through it, so that's positive.  And once my Latin class is over, I'm not planning on teaching that again for a few more years, so that will be a nice break.  Maybe next year I'll only teach one class!  Now THAT is something to look forward to!

Thursday, September 10, 2015

A Brief Pause

 Last weekend we were able to get away.  We got up early and drove to PA, first to see Bob's parents.  We were able to spend a few hours with them, as well as Bob's sister Jane.  Jane and Bob's brother Paul have been doing yeoman's work in taking care of Bob's parents, and we are really thankful for their hard work.  Not many people can say that their 90 and almost 89 year old parents are still living alone, in a house with one bathroom only, which is on the second floor!  It's because of all Bob's siblings that his parents are still able to do this.  

 Next it was on to White Sulphur Springs, one of my favorite places on earth.  I so needed to the peace and refreshment from a weekend here!
 We were there with my parents Bible study/chapel group.  The fellowship was wonderful, as always--we always thoroughly enjoy seeing old friends--and the speaker, Lt. Gen. Loren Reno, was excellent and practical.  The weather was perfect, so we got to enjoy all sorts of other activities, like horseback riding, ultimate frisbee, a lovely walk for Bob and me, and rock wall climbing.
 Micah was a little monkey!  He almost got to the top of this wall a few times, but he just got scared about being high up, LOL.
 The weekend exhausted poor Verity.  I think she is still making up for it here at home!
 The girls ran around with their 3 little friends who were also there last year.  They had so much fun together!  It was a real miracle that one of the girls was able to be there this year (they were supposed to be PCSing, but then they couldn't go to their next duty station yet, even though all their stuff is en route, so they came to WSS!), so that made it all even more special.  There were some other kids there too, and everyone played so well together.
 No family picture on the wagon this year!  Maybe we can photoshop Verity into last year's one, LOL.  I'm not even sure why Faith is not in this one!
All too soon it was time to say goodbye and head back home, since all our co-ops started the next day.  I spent a good deal of my free time working on those pesky Latin practice worksheets.  I'm through chapter 10--only 14 more to go . . .  I also was able to finish the last of the books I recommended for AP biology--Inheritance, by Sharon Moalem.  It took me longer to get into it, compared to his first one, Survival of the Sickest, but I did enjoy it.  I think the genetic side of biology is so fascinating!  So it was a lovely weekend, not long enough, but all too soon it was back to real life.

Tuesday, September 01, 2015


Once again I'm teaching a Latin class this year, and we had our first meeting yesterday.  It went well, although that's probably because what we did was really basic review for most of them.  It's for the same kids I taught last year, plus 2 new kids.  Last year we made it almost all the way through unit 3 of  Henle 1, which was enough to have the kids take the Intro to Latin exam.  None of these kids had the foundation that Nathan, Luke, Isaac, and Caleb had when we did this class before, so they wouldn't have done as well on the Latin 1 exam had we tried that.

So then a new family was interested in a Latin 1 course this year, and the younger brother of one of the boys was as well, so I decided to teach Latin this year too.  The only problem was what book to use, since we had already done the beginning part of Henle 1 with the other kids, and the new kids really needed to start at the beginning too.  I looked around and found Latin Alive 1.  It looked a lot more "fun" than Henle, and it incorporates a lot of history and cultural details, so in that it lines up better with the NLE.  The scope and sequence also lines up much better with the Level 1 exam.

 Henle has a terrible sequence--he introduces all 5 declensions before ever starting with verbs.  He gives a very few verbs just as vocab words, not teaching how to conjugate, so he can make sentences to translate.  Because he apparently loved Caesar's Gallic Wars, the vocab really comes from that, so the verbs are ones like "they slaughtered" and "they prayed".  This means you can translate uplifting sentences like, "The mothers prayed while the soldiers slaughtered the chiefs and leading men of the tribes."  Now I don't actually mind the focus on war--the sentences are funny in a ghoulish sort of way, and it keeps boys entertained for sure.  And a lot of the vocab is introduced through all the lower levels of the Memoria Press Latin materials, like Prima Latina and Latina Christiana, so it feels very familiar to me.  But that kind of vocab is not used on the NLE for sure!

The thing I really do love about Henle is that he has loads of practice exercises.  Loads and loads.  Too many, probably.  We did some in class, and there were still plenty more to assign as homework. If you work diligently through Henle, you should be able to do well on NLEs simply because you so thoroughly know the grammar, and you can guess the answer to the questions even if you don't know the vocab because you recognize the endings. And because I'm not totally confidant about everything, having all these exercises with answers was very helpful to make sure I was on the right track.

Which brings me back to Latin Alive.  This curriculum does NOT have too many exercises.  It doesn't even have enough exercises, in my opinion!   Each chapter has maybe 6 exercises, of which the first one is always to go through the vocab words for the lesson and write out the syllables and accents for them.  I could not care any less about that, since the whole reason I love Latin so much is that there are no Romans walking around, seeking conversation and correcting pronunciation.  Also, I generally fall back to ecclesiastical pronunciation, since that's what MP uses, while Latin Alive is definitely classical.  And finally, I don't think any of these students are going to study Latin 4 or so more years, so be able to get to Latin poetry, and that's where the syllable marks come in.  So that leaves 5 exercises or so, with maybe 7 sentences or whatever in each exercise.  It's just not enough practice.  So I'm making up extra review sheets with other sentences and practice exercises, which is taking up a ton of time.  I got through the first 8 lessons pretty quickly, but then it got to areas I'm just not as confidant in, plus with new vocab to master. Gah!  Why do I do this to myself?!  Juggling this and AP biology, plus just the general teaching of all the little kids, is going to be a challenge this year.  I'm staving off Alzheimers--that's what I keep telling myself.  Although if I drive myself insane, it's hard to say that is any better!