Learning, Reading, and Looking Ahead

One of our nightly routines around the dinner table is to share something we’ve learned that day. Mostly my kids stick to stuff they read or learned to do in school. A lot of times it’s– “Mom, um, what was that thing we did today?”

“Subtraction with borrowing?”

“Yeah, right. That!”

And often it involves something ridiculous (“It hurts if my brother sits on my head”) or something gross (“I learned what happens when you squeeze a pimple!”) or something that results in a reprimand (I wish they would learn that they shouldn’t share bathroom information at the table).

But truly, this has been a great conversation starter for us. When I first started seeking to make family dinners more of a priority, we all kind of sat there . . . and ate . . . and looked at each other . . . and then raced away. But most nights now we end up lingering, deep in conversations that spring up from whatever someone learned. Sometimes we never get past the first person sharing, because we get sidetracked and end up just talking about television or what we’re reading.

I’ve found myself deliberately looking for books and podcasts that will teach me stuff so that I have something to share at dinner time. Instead of having Angry Ranger write a paragraph about the country he’s studying in geography, I’ll have him find something new and interesting to share at dinner. We both win– he doesn’t have to write yet another paragraph and I don’t have to correct one!

Anyway, I’ve so enjoyed sharing what I’ve been learning with my family, that it felt like a natural subject for my blog. Maybe it’ll become a regular feature, although you know me and regular features. I’m not so much a regular feature kind of girl. I’m more of a “wait, what? I have a blog?” kind of girl.

This week I’ve learned–

  1. That the root of the word arctic has its roots in the Greek word for bear, because of the constellation Ursa Major that is found in the north. I learned this from the podcast The Allusionist, which I have recently begun listening to. I have only listened to a couple episodes, and would like to warn you that she uses a little bit of questionable language.
  2. That if you want to kiss the Blarney Stone, you have to lean back over a drop with someone holding your feet. This one was from Angry Ranger, who was researching castles in Ireland today for school.
  3. That a major artery that is blocked 60% is apparently not a cause for much alarm. I learned this from my dad’s heart doctor after Dad had a heart catheterization on Tuesday.
  4. That horse jockeys in the thirties went to incredibly unhealthy lengths to stay light enough to keep their jobs, including starving themselves, purposely becoming horribly dehydrated, and running for miles on hot days while dressed in winter clothing and wrapped in blankets. This came from Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand, which I am currently reading.
  5. That the word osculate means “to kiss.” I learned this from Angry Ranger. He read his story out loud, and pronounced it oscillate, which of course I knew did not mean anything about kissing, so I was super confused. He was pretty impressed he knew a word I didn’t know. I would have been more impressed if it wasn’t a kissing word. Teenagers.
  6. That the Doctor Who episode “Blink” is still possibly the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen. I hope the kids can sleep tonight!
  7. That I am not a fan of earthquakes. We felt the Oklahoma one this morning, and I felt slightly nauseated for almost an hour afterward! It was the weirdest thing, like the house was suddenly sitting on a trampoline.

What I’m reading right now:

  1. Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand. I’m surprised by how much I’m enjoying this, although I’m less surprised than I would have been before I read Unbroken by the same author. She has this amazing way of drawing you in so that you start caring a whole lot about something you didn’t care about at all before. I think I’m about halfway through it, and it’s definitely been hard to put down. I’ve had to start leaving it upstairs in my room so I don’t pick it up and read instead of doing the Important Stuff like making dinner and teaching the small people.
  2. The Pastor’s Kid by Barnabas Piper. Barnabas is John Piper’s adult son. I’m only a couple chapters into this book, and it’s kind of fascinating to read it as someone who is a pastor’s kid and is raising three pastor’s kids. So far I’m discovering that the dramatic change in my walk with God as an adult (just within the last few years) is actually pretty normal for pastor’s children.
  3. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saveedra. I’m not actually reading this one; I’m listening to it on audiobook. On Monday I finished listening to Moby Dick. I am loving audiobooks for moments when my hands are busy but my mind isn’t. Lots more housework gets done when I have a good book to listen to. I decided to limit myself to big old classics I probably wouldn’t pick up otherwise, and I have to admit that this afternoon I did giggle at something in Don Quixote. I really kind of wish I knew Spanish and could listen to it in its original language.
  4. The Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard. I don’t know exactly how to describe this book; Annie Dillard writes about nature and her thoughts and her life. I love this book for my pre-bedtime reading, because it’s interesting but not so riveting I can’t put it down, and the chapters are divided into pretty small chunks for those nights when I’m falling asleep before I get past the first sentence. It’s a very fascinating look at nature, but it goes a lot deeper than that. I definitely don’t agree with her philosophy about a whole lot of stuff, but I enjoy her writing style and am fascinated with what she writes about.

What’s on my plate next week:

  1. Starting week four of Couch to 5K! I have to run for five minutes at a time this week, which sounds scary.
  2. Starting our new kids’ program at our church with a picnic and family game night! Eek!
  3. Starting homeschool co-op for the year– I’m teaching a math program (hahahaha) called Crazy8s for 3rd and 4th grade and a speech class for middle schoolers. I suppose I should do some sort of lesson plan for that.

And with that, I suppose I should move on to the Next Thing. Which is, thankfully, going to bed. Woot woot! I am a fan of going to bed.

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