Friday, October 26, 2012

7 Quick Takes on October: Halloween, All Saints and Shakespeare

1.  I have written on some personally intense topics this week; we have all been ill; I am at this moment  drained, teetering on the precipice between a cold and a sinus infection.  Please indulge me as I put my feet up and write a mostly chatty Quick Takes about the procrastinations and the blessings of the week.  To start: I have a working dishwasher!   My amazing renaissance man of a husband installed it himself, thereby saving us over $150.  Life would have been far more arduous this week without it.  Kindly ignore the cluttered counter top and messy floor and bask in the reflective glow of it:  Isn't it lovely?

 2.  I just realized that we’ve entered the last stretch of October.  Aside from having purchased four sugar pumpkins, I am completely unprepared and decidedly unseasonal.  Typically the kids and I would have by now chosen and  planned their costumes for All Saints Day and Halloween.  At this point, I have not even brought the necessary bins up from the basement.  This is what happens when a homeschooling family all falls ill with the latest seasonal bug.    I am crunched for time now; not only do the kids dress the part of their saint, they rehearse a riddle-like speech for us from that person's point of view... I don't want to let go of that tradition.  I may overhaul Monday's curriculum to get this done.

3.  One of the things on my “Halloween” to-do list was to re-create the milk jug skeleton I’d made a few years ago, which I’d finally had to part with last season from too much wear & tear.  We'd loved ours.  We even gave him a pirate hat and dubbed him “Captain Morgan.”  I have a garbage bag of 8 plastic milk containers which I planned to use to this grand purpose.  I am not sure that I’m feeling the motivational push to make a new one though...  Hopefully that will change.

 The other October event I am unprepared for is Gianna’s sixth birthday, which officially strikes before Halloween.  To buy some time, I have scheduled her party for the first weekend of November. Even still, I don’t feel the same impetus to craft anything remotely like the double- pinata pirate I’d made for her third birthday.   Now there was a theme party!

In hindsight, I wonder if I was just in a manic period that Autumn...

4.  Allow me to correct my earlier statement that we have not enjoyed any seasonal observances. Yesterday was the Anniversary of the Battle of Agincourt, also known as St. Crispin’s Day.  My Shakespearean scholar friend in England was kind enough to remind us of this via Facebook that morning.   Inspired,  I immediately found this clip from Kenneth Branagh's adaptation of Henry V on Youtube.  The kids and I watched it several times, and discussed the scene, the battle, the time period.  I guess we managed some impromptu seasonal-themed schooling after all.  Yes.  I am that much of a geek to include a Shakespeare-themed St. Crispin's Day in our traditional October Observances.  (Bonus: no baking or decorating is required!)

5.  When I explained the importance of the English longbow to the Battle of Agincourt, John Paul made a mental connection to the project he and Daddy completed while we were camping last summer.  I’d completely forgotten about that bow-making project, which Emre had found in the Dangerous Book for Boys.  As I recall, there was some historical info in that about the English Longbow as well.

6.  My children love Shakespeare.  I used to teach high school literature for a living, so this has become a point of pride for me.   Now that my curious kids are getting older I am brazen enough to have shared the plotlines to Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet & Macbeth.  (I figured they deserved a context with which to appreciate the Veggie Tales' ongoing Shakespeare references.)  The kids and I were thrilled to find a picture book version of Hamlet and another of Macbeth at our local library.  They have also listened to the case for Shakespeare’s Catholicism over the course of myriad car rides last Spring.  I'm not saying that they comprehend all of it, but some of it does stick!  It is really exciting to see, and another reason I am thankful that we homeschool and have this much time to pursue these types of interests.

7.  Since we'd checked out the St. Crispin’s day speech from Branagh’s version of Henry V, I also had to also search out this scene, which I consider one of the best and most moving scenes in all of cinema.  This hymn is amazing.  The children loved this as well.  How about this for a Friday anthem?

I think Jennifer Fulwiler's mind is on Halloween as well...
For more Quick Takes, visit her at Conversion Diary!


  1. Don't worry about Halloween - it will be cancelled due to the oncoming storm, as it was last year..can lightning strike twice in one place?

    1. I had that thought as well: I'd better prepare for "Frankenstorm" before I worry too much about Halloween! How long will power be out for folks this time?