30 Aug 2012

A Letter to You!

Hello Everyone, it's good to be talking to you. It seems so long since I've had the opportunity to update you all on our goings on, and I've missed you. You are such an encouragement to me, you know. Thank you all for being such good friends.

It is hard to believe that it is just two days until I leave for Europe. I am travelling with my mum, sister and brother, and we will be away just under four weeks, visiting London, Scotland, Provence, Paris, and Kraków in Poland.  We have all been busy arranging accommodation and hire cars, as well as reading up and booking nice restaurants in the cities we are visiting. We have a couple of meals booked in Michelin starred establishments which should be extra sublimely marvellous, but mostly we hope to discover small places that serve good local produce alongside some interesting wines. I am so looking forward to spending time with my siblings and mum. It is such a long time since we have done anything without our spouses and various children. (Yes, Mr PD has sole parental responsibility for four weeks. Do you think she'll live? Do you think he will?)

Amongst all the preparation has been a good bit of prereading. I'm currently reading John Baxter's Chronicles of Old Paris, each chapter telling the fascinating stories of the characters that make Paris the multifaceted, glittering City of Lights. I always enjoy this man's writing, although occasionally he gets a bit bawdy for my taste, and this, his latest book, is as good as his Paris previous offerings. Chapters include the lives of Marie Antoinette, the man behind the Eiffel Tower, Henri Toulouse-Lautrec, Maurice Utrillo and other painters of the Montmartre arrondissement, Marcel Proust, Coco Chanel, Ernest Hemingway and Josephine Baker. The back of the book includes detailed walking tours of the city, including one of literary Paris, which is now on my 'must do ' list.

A group of us on the new AO forum are tackling Les Miserables, beginning in September. I must say I am glad for the kindle version as I see the length of this tome. I think my luggage allowance would be taken with just this one offering, otherwise. Have any of you read this? Want to join me? I am certain it I'll add some Francophilic flavour to my trip, anyhow.

As a family read aloud we've been reading the Newbery winning The Trumpeter of Kraków, a fictitious story set in Kraków in 1462, around the time of the great fire that destroyed much of the town. It is the tale of a young boy, Joseph Charnetski, son of a Polish nobleman from The Ukraine, whose family flees to Kraków after their home is burned to the ground by Cossack-Tartars rebels. In their luggage is something very special, something coveted by all who see it, the Great Tarnov Crystal. Fabled to have strange magical powers that will guarantee victory to anyone who possesses it, turn metal into gold and allow its owner to see into the future, the crystal must be delivered to the king to fulfill an oath made by the Charnetski family hundreds of years before. Joseph uses the inspiring true story of a young trumpeter to Kraków who met his death when he alerted the city to an invasion by the Tartars, to avoid disaster and save the crystal and his family. It's a wonderful story, and has been a great introduction to this ancient city that I'll be visiting in only a few short weeks. Jemimah and I continue to enjoy the Newbery Challenge as we continue to slowly read our way through these award winning books. We're currently finishing up Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, the 1930 winner, as well as reading Rifles for Wattie, which won the medal in 1958.  Both are fabulous.

While I'm away Jemimah will be continuing on with her school work independently for a couple of weeks doing a reduced workload, as well as taking a couple of weeks break. We've been doing a few extra readings to reduce the number of books shell need to complete alone, with the aim of only one school book plus free reading each day. She will continue with French, Latin, picture study, copywork etc as usual, and take a break from studied dictation, grammar, Plutarch and other Jeanne led pursuits. She will complete the MEP worksheets for maths and omit the mummy taught component, a scenario I am comfortable with since she will coincidentally be commencing MEP6 at that time, and the first week or so is simple revision of this previous year's work. To be honest, I will not be terribly angry if she doesn't get through what I leave her. It is hard to work completely independently at 10, but anything she does complete makes it that much easier to catch up upon my return. By then it will be October and the end of our year will be fast approaching. I hope to finish school for the year at the beginning of November. Oh my, she says, feeling suddenly overwhelmed.

The end of the year is showing itself in other ways too.  Badminton finishes next week, to be replaced by Little Athletics.  Extra dance classes are appearing in the lead up to the end of year concert.  The ABC will be filming in Jemimah's Jazz and Tap class in a couple of weeks, which is an added excitement.  All these things show me that the end of the year is fast approaching.  I shall need to place book orders on my return.  Be still, my beating heart.  Is there anything more exciting than the annual book order?

School literature highlights right now include Kipling's Kim as well as The Story of John G Paton.  Jemimah and I both think this latter book is the best school book we've read so far.  That's praise indeed when you consider the AO line up, but this book is inspiring, adventurous, humourous, exciting, profound, and fun all in one.  This story of a missionary to the cannibals of Vanuatu is just amazing.

Jemimah is reading Goodbye Mr Chips as a free read.  She says it was slow to start but is now getting interesting.  Her previous book, Sally Morgan's bio adapted for young readers, Sally's Story was enjoyed by both of us, despite some blasphemy and coarse language.

Other fun subjects right now include Latin and Plutarch.  We're studying the life of Pericles.  We're not doing a Shakespeare this term, preferring instead to study Molière's The School for Wives since we're seeing this play performed  by Bell Shakespeare later in the year.  I can justify this switch since it enhances our French study.  Phew!

This weekend when I'm on an aeroplane, Jemimah and her Daddy will be attending The Australian Ballet's performance of Icons, a series of short iconic ballets.  I'm particularly fond of the lyrebird in The Display, one of the pieces they'll be dancing, but I suppose its inappropriate for me to be jealous whilst I'm winging my way to foreign shores.

This evening I'm packing.  Not my favourite job, to be honest, which is probably while I'm procrastinating by writing to you.  As usual I'll try to post some Highlights Posts while I'm away.  Sometimes I manage to do these on hols, other times they get too hard and I give up.  Let's see what happens this time. 

Next week on the 4th of September A Peaceful Day will be 4.  Where has the time gone?  I do hope to get here to write a few words on that day, but in case I don't, thank you all so much for sticking by me, for encouraging me, for making me laugh, and mostly for being my friends.  I appreciate every single one of you.  Thanks for being there for me.


  1. How exciting, its come around much faster than I expected!! Do have a wonderful time and I can't wait to hear all about it and see some photos (hint!!), I am sure daddy and daughter will have a ball - I'm sure it will be a very special time for the two of them.

    Prayers and hugs for your trip - have a WONDERFUL TIME:)))))))))

  2. WOW...your trip to Europe has come around really fast! How truly exciting for you all, we will be praying for you all on your trip. Have an amazing time! xxx P.S Thank you too for your wonderful friendship

  3. Just two days to go! wow! Have a wonderful holiday! I'm sure Jemimah and her daddy will be fine:) I shouldn't hold you up from your packing though ;) bon voyage!

  4. Bon voyage! God speed and have a great trip. xo

  5. Have fun in Europe with your family! I hope you have a safe trip.

    I read "Goodbye, Mr. Chips." I remember it being a very good book. I wonder what Jemimah thinks of it as a homeschooler.

    We are doing "Judy's Journey" by Lois Lenski which I read as a young child.

  6. Looking at Le Mis. and wondering if I can take it on. I am already reading 'Middlemarch' with Sophie, 'Waverley" with Jeremy as well as alot of other reading about what the ancients thought and we - moderns/postmoderns - have lost. However the idea of being in a group appeals greatly. So I think I'll give it a go and read it like some others have mentioned, through to next May and beyond if necessary.
    Thanks for letting us know about this I hadn't subscribed to that thread.

  7. Have a wonderful trip! Say hello to our friend in Krakow for me!

  8. Hi Jeanne, hope you have a lovely trip and I hope the UK weather improves in time for your arrival- we have had the wettest summer since 1912 apparently!

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  10. Jeanne, you are away as I type while I sit home seething with envy! (Actually, I'm not; I am so pleased at your great good fortune.) I cannot WAIT to hear all about your trip: what you saw and did, what you savored, what made you happiest... all the good stuff.

    I appreciate your reading suggestions, too. Hitty is on my list, as is Goodbye Mr. Chips. That Chronicles of Old Paris sounds delightful!

    Prayers for a safe and happy trip!


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