Tuesday, December 29, 2009

William Shakespeare

For Joshua's World History studies this year, we are reading through William Shakespeare's Julius Caesar. We've enlisted some of the Cunningham family to join us, and we're having a grand time giving different voices to the characters and exploring the various themes of betrayal and loyalty, tyranny and pride, and conspiracy and assassination gone awry.

Calphurnia When beggars die there are no comets seen;
The heavens themselves blaze forth the death of princes.
C├Žsar Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

The children are so enjoying reading through Shakespeare that we recently rented Kenneth Branagh's "Henry V," which we finished watching tonight. An amazing movie!

King Henry I tell thee truly, herald,
I know not if the day be ours or no;
For yet a many of your horsemen peer
And gallop o'er the field.
Montjoy The day is yours.
King Henry Praised be God, and not our strength, for it!
What is this castle call'd that stands hard by?
Montjoy They call it Agincourt.
King Henry Then call we this the field of Agincourt,
Fought on the day of Crispin Crispianus.

We still have three acts to finish in Julius Caesar, but perhaps we'll move on to one of the comedies next.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Day 2009

We spent a quiet morning at home and then headed to Grandma Nancy's house in Berkeley. After a turkey dinner, we finished the opening gifts. Shannon was thrilled with the Webkinz each of her brothers gave her.

Grandma was delighted with the pumpkin spice candle that Joshua bought and carved for her.

Liz had crocheted a doll blanket for Elizabeth, Shannon's American Girl doll, to match the afghan for Shannon's bed that she finally finished a few nights ago.

Grandma has been busy painting the doll house and purchasing new furnishings and decorations. Shannon thoroughly enjoyed rearranging the furniture and laying down new carpeting in different rooms. They plan to get together to put up wallpaper and other special touches on the house in the near future.

Having just completed a couple crochet projects, Liz started a new afghan for Nancy using more homespun yarn which is so incredibly soft and colorful!

Christmas Program

The children joined the Fairhaven Junior Choir this year and sang "For Unto Us A Child Is Born" from Handel's Messiah at the Christmas Concert on December 20.


It's been a couple years since we made our gingerbread houses, so Liz organized a house-building event with Home Schoolers Loving God on December 18. The morning started with Liz and Shannon baking up the pieces for Shannon's house and plenty of ginger people to share.

One of the joys of gingerbread is the delight on the young children's faces as they explore--and sample--their "building supplies."

Liz spent most of the afternoon making up batches of royal icing, the glue that holds everything together.

The boys and other teens were assistants for the kids and had as much fun designing house decor as any of the actual builders.

Shannon and Emily had a blast building and decorating their houses, the the real fun came when they started devouring their creations.

Joshua and the other teens did a fantastic job organizing games for the younger children while the adults assembled the houses at the beginning of the event and then cleaned up at the end. Perhaps he will serve as an AWANA Games Leader in the future!


December 5 - Our Biology students prepared presentations about the experiments they performed at home and independently. Joshua F. taught the group about his osmosis experiment with the semipermeable membrane of an egg while Joshua C. shared about his enzyme experiment with pineapples. Both boys were able to use skills they learned in their speech class for their presentations.

December 10 - The Jubilate Deo Chorus sang beautifully for their Christmas Concert. Joshua joined two young ladies to sing "Mary, Did You Know," and Shannon sang along with two other girls for a beautiful rendition of "Silent Night." The entire choir did a fantastic job with all their solos and choral singing.

December 11 - Alaina Bigelow joined us for the annual Centerville Christmas Concert in Fremont. Once again the choirs and the orchestra heralded the Savior's birth with glorious music and celebration.

December 14 - The students of our school, Harvest Christian Academy, joined the residents at Rosewood Gardens in Livermore for an afternoon of song, speech presentations, and cookies. The FitzGerald children helped lead "Hark, the Herald Angels Sing," and Joshua played his special piano piece.

December 15 - Liz and the children joined different families from Home Schoolers Loving God, our home school support group, for a trip to the de Young Museum in San Francisco. Since Joshua is studying World History this year, the King Tut exhibit fit perfectly with his coursework.

John attempted a kingly stance as he tried on a replica of the famous headpiece in the gift shop.

We went to the top of the museum tower where we had a breathtaking panoramic view of Golden Gate Park and much of San Francisco.

Right across from the museum is the California Academy of Sciences, which was recently completely rebuilt. The building has a new Living Roof. We are eager to visit the science museum again now that it has reopened.

We could see the top of the Golden Gate Bridge peaking over the top of the nearby hills.

After our tour of the museum, we headed over to Pier 39 for some lunch and fun.

December 17 - Shannon's new glasses arrived. Yes, our dear daughter is slightly far sighted and now sports a pair of glasses for most activities other than reading.

Thanksgiving 2009

This year we were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with our dear friends, the Cunningham family. Liz and the kids prepared several dishes before joining our friends at their house. Here is Shannon learning how to make mashed potatoes using real potatoes--what else?

Shannon also helped saute the vegetables for the stuffing. Since she doesn't care for the stinging eyes that often comes from cut up onions, she donned the boys science goggles to protect herself.
Later that evening, toasts began in earnest as we thanked the Lord for His bountiful provisions for the year.
After dinner, the kids played Apples to Apples. John cracked up at several jokes that Joshua C. made while playing the game.

We also spent the evening worshiping the Lord with music. David and Joshua played the guitar together on several songs.

Zach did a great job adding percussion to the music!


The beginning of November brought the close of the boys' Intro to Speech class with final presentations on the 5th. John amazed the crowd with his dramatic interpretation of the book, Shin's Tricycle, a story about affect of the Hiroshima bombing on a small Japanese family.

Joshua presented his expository speech about swords, complete with a graphics board.

The entire group posed for a photo at the end of the fantastic presentations.

For an activity involving fungus, the two Joshuas headed to our local Lake Chabot to search for specimens. Some fungi can be dangerous if ingested, so the boys donned face masks and gloves for their search.

Back at home, the boys carefully handled their discoveries while preparing slides for the microscope.

John provided a demonstration of the effects of dish soap on a bowl of cream with food coloring added. Amazing and beautiful!

November 14 - The children had their annual piano recital in the fall this year. They each played flawlessly, and Joshua shared an original composition he calls "Infinity" with the audience.

November 20 - Shannon and the Cunningham girls had much fun playing dress-up during a recent visit.
November 24 - Shannon is studying Eastern hemisphere cultures this year for Social Studies. During her week in New Zealand she learned how to make the scrumptious meringue dessert Pavlova which she decorated with fresh strawberries and chocolate chips.