Friday, September 27, 2013

Grit Cooking Homeschool

We have no routine right now due to lots of loose ends and lots to do, which might completely cook my middle aged grits but we did get stuff done anyway.
Math- Flower is still cruising along with Saxon 6/5. We also found Logic Links to replace her beloved Grid Perplexors and she is, once again, a happy math girl.
First Language Lessons IV -still fun for her - she's about 1/2 done. She is also working through PreScripts and Mary Daly's First Book of Diagramming and l.o.v.e.s  it. Nerd girl.
She is reading George Washington, Dairy of a Real Payne and Little Women. Review on 2/3 of those coming right up.
Time 4 Learning is saving the day; well, often.

Cub is working through Learn Math Fast. He is on Geometry. He is working on the volume of spheres. He is not loving it, not one little bit. Biology, however, he all about. He and the microscope are very good friends- it's mechanical and so is he. And he is reading. I basically am throwing books at him regardless of genre or time period- he is a speed reader like Moi, so keeping him in good lit is challenging.  Saving Leonardo by Nancy Pearcy is on his list, but it appears that I have lost the book.
They are both going through Super Star Student together- the old version. Cheesy but good info.
Cub and Feeche played Ultimate Frisbee and went to CAPS and everyone crammed in friend time coming and going this week.
Co-op  = art, music, phys. ed and unit study; writing and geography. Today the kids learned about longitude and latitude by creating them on boiled eggs, drew Greece and ate 3 kinds of olives. Hung out at the park with co-op friends and enjoyed the gorgeous fall weather
We watched Iron Man III and Star Trek. Star Trek was lots of tongue in cheek humor, a good plot, fine acting and decent action. Iron Man was good cheesy superhero stuff. But why, oh why, do they have to show men in both, in bed, mainly necked (implying s*x) with 2 women at a time. Way to normalize perversion, all under the guise of a family friendly movie. Seriously, people. Why?!
Speaking of which, if you have kids, you owe it to yourself to  read this article. It's shocking and eye-opening about the pervasiveness of porn useage amongst young kids.

Which is interesting in light of this article in World Magazine which shows the utter disconnect between those fervently opposed to human sex trafficking, while in total denial about the role Internet pornography plays in the demand.
I have tons of amazing reviews coming up- books, magazines, on-line programs, audio downloads and CD's. Stay tuned because some of them involve give-aways!
I love Gena Suarez "Hey Mama" posts on The Old Schoolhouse Magazine FB page. Check them out!

How was your week?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Before and After Summer Projects

It seems unreasonable to me that we are already kissing October. I haven't really adjusted to summer being over and the fact that I am already confronted with weather that demands more than sandals and Capri's. There is something inherently unjust about this; especially given the fact that I spent a decade and a half of my adult life in either Sunny Southern California or the Land of Enchantment. Either way, the Great Plains weather stops for no man (or woman). Before it gets too far into the next season I thought I'd wrap-up the major projects of the last one.

Exterior house painting- this included 29 gallons of primer and paint-copious amounts of caulk, 4 ladders, men-folk dangling like monkeys from eaves and roofs, scaffolding, several paint spills and re-building the end-caps of the eaves. My awesome paint-the-house-tan is already fadding, more's the pity, but at present we live in one rocking freshly painted house.

Painted the basement floor-moved stuff, primed, painted, rinsed, repeated.

Extended the brick path to the east. Flower and I tackled this one, with  little help from Ethan and bossy knowledgable Dr. Dh.

We hayed the fields, which just makes me so happy. In addition, several more yards of trim were cut and made it up, including in the basement, and it looks fabulous. We had a mega garage sale, emptying out the attic, basement and several sheds.

More to come but when I list it that good feeling fades fast. Have I ever mentioned that this is like the never ending project? Regardless, we did get some big projects D.O.N.E. this summer and the house just gets better and better. What do you think?

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Monday, September 23, 2013

Dreams Unfulfilled- Reality Misunderstood- Part II

This is part II of Dreams Unfulfilled- Reality Misunderstood -catch part I here.
Below are thoughts from a long-time friend of mine. She has a fascinating story that is full of life-lessons, especially for the homeschooler. Z's story underscores the truth that if we are called, our job is to be faithful, not to expect a specific outcome. Blessings! Lisa
I do want to clarify something. All these people did have something good to say about parenting, but not all of the practical application was wise.  I would buy all their wares at conventions and see them speak and start implementing their ideas as soon as I got home.  My poor children. I had them involved in a cult again.  I’m sorry if you find “cult” offensive, but that is truly what my heart believes.   I had bought into if you do A,B, and C your children will go from obeying you at home, and into their adulthood without rebelling.  That was truly “Reality Misunderstood.”

This was a critical time in the lives of my older children.  They were becoming teenagers and young adults and all my experimenting and being so rigid did a number on them.  Before I go on, I do not blame myself for everything that happened in my children’s lives.  At some point they need to take responsibility for their poor choices and move on.  I have apologized to all my children for my mistakes.  That said, the teen years and early adulthood in my two oldest were extremely tumultuous. 

One of the contributing factors to my children and their rebellion, was peer pressure from the “perfect”  homeschool family in our support group.  Everyone looked to them and their children were to be emulated. I felt pressure to live up to their standards.  What I failed to realize, was the their standards were right for them and our standards were right for us.  My children were ridiculed for games they played, books they read; you name it.  Foolishly, I tried to make my children conform.  I would get tired of the phone calls after overnight trips with the church telling me my son was reading a book they found in appropriate.  Mind you, no one in church leadership was complaining, just this one family, I will call the the “Smiths”. 

The dream of a well educated, godly family was a worthy goal, but the reality of guiding my family in the best direction for us was really misunderstood.  There are so many things I could tell you.  I spent years trying to be like the Smiths while my son was being arrested and in jail for various things, and my daughter was sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night.  We have fought, drugs, promiscuity, pregnancy, alternative lifestyles, rape, alcohol addiction; you name it we have seen it.  
We eventually left that small town and moved back to the large metropolitan lifestyle.  By then my hubby was ill and I was sending my two youngest to public school.  Also, by then, I had realized that I had made a drastic mistake of buying into the “cult” side of homeschooling.  I was reformed from the rigid side of things, but things got much worse for us.  My oldest became a meth addict, my daughter became a felon, drug addict, and an alcoholic, and my youngest became a juvenile felon along with dabbling in drugs.  Child number three had his issues, but nothing like the other three.  

We do have some praises to give.  My oldest son spent 6 years in the Airforce and is now attending college full time.  Praise God.  My third child finally decided to go to college and we are helping him.  Child number four, who is 20 is still dangling a bit, but I do see hope.  My daughter struggles horribly! My kids have chosen the scenic route in life.

If you have one child who does not seem to be able to come out from their addictions and behaviors, you may find there is something else you do not know about.  After many years my daughter finally told me she was molested as a four or five year old by my best friend’s husband that we lived next door to.  I had no clue or we could have gotten help.  By the time we found out she would not do anything the counselor would say and is still now falling down a slippery slope.

I do not want to give a total  story of what we have been through as it reads like a soap opera. What I want to say is God has a plan for your family, and if you follow that, no matter what paths your children take, you can rest assured you did your best.  As adults your children are responsible for their own choices.  The “dream” is not to “follow the formula” and have a June Cleaver family.  The promise is the rewards you will get for being obedient to God. The reality is you can only bring them up in the “nurture and admonition of the Lord”.  You can’t force them to do what is right.  It is their choice.  Our job is to love them, nurture them, guide them, help them pick up the pieces when it all falls, and to support them when they want to come back to God and their family. What I am learning is forgiveness, mercy, longsuffering, patience, meekness, and showing the love of Jesus above all. 

Reality is not a perfect family as a result of following God.  Reality is resting in his peace that you have done your best and will stand before him having been forgiven for the mistakes and rewarded for the godly changes you made in the life of your family. Let us all have dreams to pursue, but understand the true reality that God doesn’t make our children perfect, but he forgives us and them for mistake when we repent and move forward with Him being first.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

C'hag Sameach! How to Celebrate Sukkot and Why You Should!

The Sukkut festival is the happiest of the Jewish festivals. We celebrated tonight with friends who are camping for the week and we'll have a household here on Saturday to continue the festivities.

Sukkot is the Hebrew word for “booths,” the singular being “sukkah. It is known as the Feast of Tabernacles, “Z'man Simchatein” or the "Season of our Rejoicing.” It is also know as the Festival of the In-gathering or “Chag ha-Asif” and will occur on the 15th day of the month of Tishri (late September to late October), that is, 5 days after Yom Kippur.
Sukkut is a celebration of God’s provision as well as release from desert wanderings. The holiday is also associated with another great event, which is the consecration of the Temple of Jerusalem during the reign of King Solomon, which took place during Sukkot.  This historic event is mentioned in Kings Chronicles' I and II. As you can see, Sukkot is rich with meaning and is one of the three major Jewish holidays, which consists of three pilgrim festivals, Sukkot, Passover and Shavuot, known collectively as the Shalosh Regalim. The holiday lasts for 7 days and combines elements of Thanksgiving, Homecoming and Christmas, with the fun of a family camp-out thrown in.
The Feast of Tabernacles/Sukkot is important to us as Christians because it points to the future day when the Messiah sets up the Messianic Kingdom and tabernacles (dwells) with us. Joy, indeed!
How to Celebrate Sukkot
1)      A sukkah is built. This can be a porch, a tent, or a temporary shelter, constructed from tent poles or inexpensive wood, even a large box or with pallets. The sukkah symbolizes the temporary shelters that were used during the desert wanderings. The Sukkah is a place where the devout eat and sleep during the seven days of the festival. The first day is celebrated with special prayer services and holiday meals. Inside these temporary quarters, all the members of the family have the Sukkot meal together. The Sukkah is dismantled on the last day of the festival symbolizing the homecoming the Jewish people experienced as they entered the Promised Land. People usually decorate their sukkah with flowers, fruit, paper chains, banners, and pictures of Jerusalem. It is very common to invite friends to eat with your family in the sukkah in the tradition of Abraham, who always invited strangers in to eat with him. The top of the sukkah is open, to see the stars of heaven. You can build a simple sukkah; there are many designs and ideas on-line. Use a porch, a tent, or simply make a graham cracker, pretzel, frosting sukkah, to symbolize a temporary dwelling.
2)      4 species of plants are used during the celebration: the etrog (a fruit similar to a lemon), and the branches of myrtle, palm and willow. These are tied together to make a lulav. Each day of the festival, people shake the four species to symbolize the various people in our community; from the spiritually strong to the spiritually weak. Just as all 4 species are held together, the community must come together and be united with the strong and the weak working together (Ecc 4:9). People wave the lulav and point the etrog in all four directions of the compass as well as up and down, three times each day, representing God's total presence and dominion over the entire universe. You can create a paper mache etrog. Google search for a picture of the real fruit, and then re-create them using balloons, paper mache material and paint.
3)      Hang banners on your sukkah or the walls of your home. You can create some simple banners using pillow cases and table cloths. A traditional saying would be “Baruch ha-ba” “Blessed be the one who comes.” Other banners might say “ivdu et Hasem b’Simcha (serve G-d with joy) or “sarua I’tzadik vlvishrei leiv smcha” (light is sown for the righteous, and joy for the upright in heart).
4)      Create a harvest centerpiece using fall gourds, pumpkins, etc. Decorate your table in fall colors.
5)      Make paper chains in fall colors, perler shapes to hang, and a fall wreath to add to our decorations.
6)      Invite friends and family over to eat delicious food, and don’t forget the bake some Challah bread, without which no Biblical celebration is complete. It’s the season to celebrate God’s provision, our permanent home in Heaven and that He will tabernacle among us one day soon.
May the joy and peace of the Lord be with you this fall! Chag Sameach Sukkot
This post was first published in The Homeschool Village.
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Presidential Game- TOS Review

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We have participated in local and state politics, brought Teenpact to our State, campaigned around the country, have friends in office from the deep south to the upper Midwest, call our elected officials on issues and vote. So, really, what can we learn from a game like this? Plenty.
presidential game 2
Mainly the electoral college, which is not all that easy to understand. The object of the game is to win 270 of the 538 electoral votes.
Players are divided in to 2 teams. Each roll of the dice elicits a decision to "campaign" or to "fund raise," the results of which determine how one's chips will be distributed. In addition there are political cards to earn while fundraising- you know, campaign favors.
It's almost like the real thing, sans the Starbucks.
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This game combines chance and strategy to bring your kids a great political experience (which doesn't always happen in real life). They can only fundraise in 4 states, each state requires a different number of chips to "take it" and the games lasts a pre-determined number of "weeks" (read, rounds).

Team scores can be kept track of in one of 2 ways- on the tally sheet enclosed or on your computer through a Electoral WebMap, accessible by the code provided. You need to update the game after each turn, but let me assure you that this is a highlight of the entire game! Cub and Flower practically knocked each other down in order to update the map after each turn. Above is our map at the end of one game.
Master strategist Big Grinner won this round.
With each game you will find  a high quality, professional game board, dice, chips, score-cards and hours of fun!
 Not only that but playing will most likely illicit questions about our political system- it did here, anyway. Questions such as, what makes a democracy or a republic,what's the difference between the popular vote and the electoral college and what's the real difference between Democrats and Republicans.
This game would be a great addition to any study on American History, U.S. Government, the electoral college or politics for homeschools, co-ops and even schools.
Feeche's only criticism of the game was that there was no 3rd or 4th party to siphon off votes. What I appreciated most was how easy it was to learn, the fact that it gave my younger and less strategic minded kids a chance of winning and the fact that it addresses a difficult concept in easy to understand terms (game playing). Good, clean fun for everyone- highly recommended!
$35.00, designed for ages 11 and up (but my 10 year old played it with no problem)
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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Pre-School, Kindergarten Homeschool

I've had several young Mommas (so young I could be their Momma!) ask me about pre-K and Kindergarten recently. This is my all-in-1- response with tons of resources- blog posts and series, Pinterest boards and FB pages linked. Let's get started!

The biggest challenge of pre-schoolers is keeping them engaged. Most still have a fairly short attention span, are easily tired and need fed and watered at regular intervals. Habit is key- routine is your safest bet.
I would  recommend taking a look at Kendra's Circle Time. This is a great way to think about what you want your littles to learn and how to organize it.
After years of doing this I recommend over planning before you get started and then going with the flow once you start. With littles, like with anything else, you don't get what you want, you get what you plan for. With littles, you often get lots of surprises, too, right?!

What can pre-Kers be expected to do?
Age appropriate chores. Kids do what you inspect, not what you expect, BUT, they do need to know what you expect, too! One of the greatest lessons I've learned from Andrew Pudewa is that if your child keeps asking for help, they need help. This seems simple- well, it is, really, but it might not come naturally!
Outside play and exploration/ nature walks -do you see the baby snapper we found on a walk near our home? Nature journaling and nature tables (or in our case, our entire, enclosed front porch, is a great way for kids to display the cool things they've found as they explore the great outdoors!
Read-alouds - at least 15 minutes a day; more is better ; )
I think some table time is good at this age, because it helps kids get acclimated to regular study.
Crafts and art- there are so many fun art books, but in any case an easel, paper and paint is always appropriate. Colored shaving cream is great for bath/shower painting. And hey, how about a shower tile wall- works great as a white board and for painting- easily wipes off- all for $15 bucks.
Gardening- this can be in the yard, with containers, or how about a Fairy Garden?
Bible Study- Arch books, Bible Memory, reading a good quality Children's Bible, Veggie Tales, Veritas Press or Bible Study for All Ages Bible cards.

Memory Work -When our youngest was 4 we started a Classical Conversations community. She learned 160 VP history cards that year (even though she was a pre-reader), along with 24 history sentences, several others hundred facts related to grammar, geography, latin, poems and more because we regularly and diligently used CD's and table time to review. She also learned the letter sounds and started on a notebook sized time-line. I say all of this so that you realize your littles are capable of learning a LOT. This is NOT to say that you should sit them at the table and force information down their throats. Kids this age, however, can learn a ton through CD's, good DVD's, books and great visual aids such as flashcards. Also, if you have older kids, why not include your younger kids? They really are sponges. If you start early "training their brains to retain", you'll be amazed at how much they really can and do retain as they grow older.

Limit screen time. There are so many apps, computer games, DVD's, etc, and they are all fascinating. We use some but in limited quantity. You really want your pre-Kers neurology to be hard wired to people and words, not electronics.Studies have shown that kids learn language skills by interacting with people-NOT screens.

Open Ended toys: Brio Trains, Playmobile, Duplos/Legos, Stuffed Animals. Pinterest has some adorable pins of old entertainment centers refabbed as play kitchens. Add some felt food; and old pots, pans and measuring cups.
Art Supplies: Easels, paint, glitter, glue, pipe-cleaners, colored paper, stickers, colored rice bins, colored shaving cream to "Paint" in the bathtub, White boards around the house (make a whiteboard wall with shower tile or several smaller lapboards), chalkboards and magnet boards (easily made with some chalkboard or magnet paint).
Unstructured Outside Play- Trampoline, playhouses, daily walks, parks, swimming, Gardening, Sandboxes, Swings,
"Sound exploration" -Musical makers. Kids loving making sound.
Gross motor skill development- For years we had a "Step 2" play scape, complete with ladder and slide, IN our house.
Sand box or table- a friend actually built a sandbox in their basement for their kids and we had a sand table on our front porch for years.
Fine motor skill development- have plenty of pens, pencils, markers around for the kids to play with, sewing cards, small toys (once they are past the "everything in thier mouth" stage- legos, of course.
Cooking- my kids have all loved to help cook in the kitchen. Usborne's First Cookbook is full of fun and simple recipes.

Travel/ field trips
Singing - the Wee Sing series, with books and CD's are full of old favorites.
Christian Studies- Arch books are a fabulous way for your littles to get a great introduction to basic Bible stories with pictures that they'll remember for a life time. We also have loved and read out loud to our kids a couple of different Children's Bibles, including the Golden Children's Bible.
We had tons of felts and teaching Bible stories through felts is always an attention grabber.
Daily prayer. Family evening prayers, with everyone snuggled in a bed together is really a gentle way to teach your littles about what's important to you. We have each child pray, youngest to oldest, ending with Daddy blessing each child. If your kiddo doesn't know what to pray for just help them along following ACTS (Adoration, Confessions, Thanksgiving, Supplication). We would just have them repeat a simple sentence or two, such as, "Thank-you, God, for this day." This year, we made an Easter garden.

Pre- Reading: Read aloud 15 min a day. There are so many adorable books on everything under the sun; don't limit your read-alouds to baby books.

IEW Language Acquisition through poetry memorization- this is a fantastic program and easily accessible for littles, especially with the CD. There are 4 sections of 20 poems each, starting with simple, short poems and ending with epic dramatic re-tellings. Andrew Pudewa (who put the program together and recites the poems) has incredible diction, so your kids will really hear fantastic vocabulary and superb story-telling.

Letter and Number recognition- we used Kumon and Usborne workbooks; colorful, easily accessible and fun. There are tons of complete programs available.
Phonics- We always used Alpha Phonics in conjunction with Explode the Code. There are other great products out there. We took the low cost, no bells and whistles, effective approach.
Books. If you live with books and magazines, your kids will think having them around is normal. My kids love books on tape. We use Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, Memoria Press and Veritas Press catalogs as reading lists. Ranger Rick, National Geographic for Kids, Ladybug, Boys Life have all been favorite magazines around here.

Good Stuff:
Classical Conversations Cd's
Veritas Press and Classical Conversations history, Bible and Science cards
Kumon Workbooks
Silly songs CD's
Usborne Cat and Mouse books, Puzzle Books, Mazes and Dot-to-Dots, along with Board books. We love UBAH!
Bible Study for all ages.
Lisa Nehring's photo.
Below is an assortment of links full of ideas, crafts, curriculum, games and much more!

Preschoolers and Peace - Circle Time
Toys, Games and Puzzles- 5 Days of Teaching Creatively
5 Days of Blog Hop- 5 Days, 45 Bloggers, 900 Articles on every homeschooling topic you can think of!
10 Days of Perefecting Pre-school
Meg's Pintererst Board
Jennifer's Pre-School Curriculum, Pinterest boards, Pre-school life-science
Brittney's Pre-School Pinterest Board - on-line classes, including pre-K and K
Time for Learning - on-line programs including pre-K and K
Timberdoodle now with Core packages, incl pre-K and K
Five in a Row- lit based study, including Pre-5 in a Row
Homeschooling Toddlers thru Tweens; HSLDA
Pre-Trip Planning Checklist; HSLDA - great links to get you started
Creating a Family Schedule from Wisdom and Righteousness
Homeschooling with Jude
Unexpected School Supplies: Paint Chip Cards
5 Days of Workboxes
Chestnut Grove Academy
Guiding Lights
For Him and My Family- 5 Days of Homeschooling Fun
Tots and Me
5 Day of CM Pre-School (appropriate for any method)
123Homeschool4Me FB page- cool ideas
Share It Saturday from Teach Beside Me Link-up and Pinterest Party

Monday, September 16, 2013

Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures- TOS Review

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($13.95-softcover; $30.95-hardcover; $3.99-kindle)
One of the very first homeschooling field trips that we took over 20 years ago was to Wycliffe Bible Translators headquarters in southern California. My friend Donna (who faithfully sends me a Christmas update letter every year -love that!) and I totally agreed that this was one field trip that was just as much for the parents as for the kids!
At that time, too, we lived in Seminary housing- more of our neighbors were international than not- so our older kids were, literally, surrounded by missionaries and people from all different lands and languages for the better part of a decade.
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If you don't live in an international community, (we don't anymore) or personally know missionaries, you are going to want to get this book! Why? Because through it's pages you will meet real life missionaries, doing real life mission work- bringing the Good News of Salvation to those who hunger and thirst for Righteousness!
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As the book begins, "There is an old Jewish proverb that says:
Why did God make people? He loves their stories."
Written by Bible Translator, Gwen Toliver, who supports missionaries with Wycliff Bible Translators, each of the 21 chapters highlights the life and work of a missionary or a couple who has devoted their life to mission work. 
If you've read GG for any length of time you know that we are story loving fools 'round here. Too, Bobby Clinton (Christan leadership guru) always claims that leaders read the biographies and autobiographies of great men and women. This book is chock full of men and women who have done great things for God.
I read several chapters out loud to the kids and Cub finished the book on his own. Each chapter focuses on a different people group, language, country, giving your curious child lots to think about! These are the real life adventures (at time life- threatening challenges) of people who have braved the unknown. Given that not everything that you read will be all goodness and light. There are hardships and occasional violence involved.  This would be a great addition to geography, Bible or cultural studies! Cub and Flower inevitably had comments and questions at the end of each chapter.
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For more information about the stories check out Gwen's blog: Seed Sowers: Gospel Planting Adventures available from Grace and Truth.
To learn more about Bible Translation go to Wycliffe Associates
Seed Sowers: Gospel-Planting Adventures ($13.95-softcover; $30.95-hardcover; $3.99-kindle). For independent readers grades 6 and up, or younger with an adult reading buddy.


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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Dreams Unfulfilled- Reality Misunderstood -Part 1

This Monday and next I will be sharing thoughts from a long-time friend of mine. She has a fascinating story that is full of life-lessons, especially for the homeschooler. Z's story underscores the truth that if we are called, our job is to be faithful, not to expect a specific outcome. Blessings! Lisa

Dreams unfulfilled.  Our lives are full of them. As a single person I dreamt of my perfect spouse, job, and home. As spouses we dream of our life and how to build our future. How do we fit God, family, saving, retirement into our lives. As parents we start our families with many dreams for the futures of our children. You know them all: a healthy life, marriage, education, a family of their own.  I am sure we could make a long list, but as time passes we realize that there are empty hopes, many disappointments.  For some of us the reality of life is not what we thought.  I call it, reality misunderstood.  

What shapes our dreams.  What influences our reality? For me, it is several things.  As I grew older and matured, my spousal dreams changed and my family dreams evolved.  My Christianity affected my dreams, then my home school relationships affected my dreams.  Every person, every relationship, every job, every church involvement, and yes, even my views of our government affected my dreams.  
Now, as I have pondered my experiences , I actually realize the great importance of every mental, physical, and spiritual influence that fell into my life.  One of the things I have learned is that I should have been more discerning about which of these experiences I should have allowed as part of my dreams. Although I am a great proponent of homeschooling, I have grave misgivings about some of the fringe groups of home schooling and some of the “gospel” they teach that we have “believed or bought” for a time.  Although I am a firm believer in Christianity and Jesus Christ, I am extremely leery of the “church” and its structure.  Although I believe in a small government, I also realize that there has to be “rules or laws” for the common good of the residents of this country. Although I believe that God’s laws should rule our hearts, I also believe we can’t legislate everyone’s morality.  In the end, we will all stand before God and give account for our lives.

I have four children.  Three boys and one girl.  Their birth order is boy, girl, boy, boy. Our homeschooling journey was 12 years long. The reason for stopping was that my husband became ill and I had to work to provide good insurance.  I tried homeschooling while working and no matter how I arranged my schedule, I just couldn’t do both and do justice to the education and life my children needed.  
My oldest son, who is now 28 years old, was always a challenge from the day he was born. He wasn’t happy unless he was moving or watching something moving.  At 3 months old he would sit in front of the TV and watch tennis.  I could see his head moving side to side watching the ball go from court to court.  I knew he was going to need lots of structure and a very disciplined life.  My other children were easy babies and just followed along with the program.  

So how would I implement my dreams for my children to be successful in their adult life.   Being a perfectionist I wanted to do it the “right” way.  I just figured there was a formula that would work.  What better formula than “God’s” formula.  My husband and I were very involved in a home Christian ministry that was very much a cult. At the time we were unaware. We decided that we would use the Word of God to raise our children.  Instead of reading God’s word and asking God for guidance, we listened to other Christians in our ministry and their way of implementing God’s word.  God’s word was very true, but the practical implementation of His truth was so wrong, but we were very naive. We were following a ministry’s idea of what God’s word said, and missing what God would really have us do.  I am sure this contributed to some of the issues we have with our children.  I also tended to be like my mom, I was going to yell you into obedience.  Good gravy, my how I have changed since then.  We got rid of the cult part of our life and moved on with God.

My two youngest started in public school. As time passed I realized this wasn’t working for us.  I tried working through issues with the system, but they just would help educationally.  Our adventure in homeschooling didn’t start for religious reasons.  It started because I wanted my children to have an excellent and safe education. I took the opportunity to give them God’s word in their schooling hoping this would help them as they grew older.  

Our homeschooling years were wonderful while we lived in a large metropolitan area.  There was diversity in the homeschool community.  We had a plethora of activities and organizations to help keep us active int he community.  We did AWANA, sports, and all the usual things families did with their children.  Sure, I was at wits end some days. We’ve all been there, but mostly, we were a happy crew.  Then one day, our lives would change forever.  My husband lost his job, and we moved to a small town.

It was a drastic change for our family, because even though they had a homeschool group locally, we lost all of the opportunities we had in large town USA for our children to be active.  We did have co-op day and for a season we could play sports at the Christian school, but things were different and I felt like we didn’t fit.  The only children my kids new were the local homeschool kids and some of them just didn’t like the way we lived our lives: TV, the books we read, computer games, you know it all.  

Doubt again crept into my mind about how were were bringing our children up.  By now, we had gotten rid of every Disney movie we owned, remember the fad that Disney was evil?  No offense if you still think it is, it just wasn’t right for our family. So I started reading things by the P's, B's, L's, and the likes.  I should have seen the red flag right away.  Very drastic parenting!!!  Very cold parenting done under the guise that doing it God’s way was loving.  Doing it God’s way is loving but their ways were far from loving. They were harsh.
Part 2 will be posted next Monday!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Time to Get Started!

Holy Canoli- can life get busier? Well, it did for us this week as we started school, co-op, and added a couple of other jobs to our regularly scheduled programming. Even with that we did get some school work done.

Started off the week with Marine Biology on -line, you'll get to hear all about it because there is a review coming up on it and its' gonna be great! - that, plus all of the usual suspects. Flower is begging for a new 5 x 7 card. Gotta get it made before Monday!

Co-op started this week. We are in a new facility- an old Catholic school no longer in use- and I love it! Open, clean, great windows and an awesome gym! I'm teaching Mapping the World with Art. Who knew it would turn into a spelling class, too!

Did you see this week's Carnival of Homeschooling? Check it out!
I also guest blogged over at Ben and Me: Frugal Family, Waiting and Watching as God Provides.
Also, the latest reviews:
People Keys Student Binder
Time 4 Learning
Knowledge Quest's A Child's Geography Vol III
I did a number on my poor finger helping a friend can beets (that's love, people. I don't even like beets!) that required a trip to the doc, rendering me almost incapable of doing dishes, sans a very large sink. Who knew my left pointer finger was such an integral part of my life? Having it swaddled makes it difficult to do a lot of things, like type with any sort of effectiveness!

A "Free Apples for the picking" sign garnered us several pounds of gorgeous Pippin like apples- gluten free apple pie is gonna happen! Recipes anyone?

The apples, in addition to a Bountiful Baskets delivery and the generosity of my friend with the beets and our counters and fridge are full up of fresh fruits and veggies. 24# of cauliflower for around $14. And yes, we'll eat it all before it goes bad!
Watched Ben Hur with the kids last night. Still one of the greats. Flower doesn't remember watching it before and it was so fun to see it with fresh eyes.
Two of the best movie lines in existence:
"You have one job on this ship. Row well and live!"
"It seems that in God's fervor to save you, he has also saved the Roman fleet!"

Gmar Chatimah Tova!
 (May you be inscribed (in the Book of Life) for Good!)
Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) is one of two Jewish High Holy Days. The purpose of Yom Kippur is to bring about reconciliation between people and between individuals and God. According to Jewish tradition, it is also the day when God decides the fate of each human being

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

People Keys Student Binder - TOS Review

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provides several tools to help evaluate learning styles, personality traits, career goals and more. We were given the opportunity to review the Student Binder, which includes "student keys"-workbooks designed to help students through "acclimation, retention and strength identification."

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This binder consists of several booklets 
1. Introduction, Objectives and Instructions for Students -this is a brief overview of the program and how to utilize the binder.
2. The Personality Style Workbook - Understanding how you learn, your communication strengths, limits and motivations.
3. The Perceptual Learning Style Workbook-your invisible motivators, how you prefer to receive information (auditory, visual, kinesthetic).
4. The Cognitive Thinking Style Workbook- identifies how you process and absorb information (literal, intuitive, theoretical and experiential).
5. The Values Style Workbook -points out internal motivators students use to make decisions (loyalty, equality, personal freedom and justice).
6. The Career Choice Workbook -students learn 21rst Century career data that matches with their styles and how their styles best fulfilled in a work environment.
7. The Goal Setting Workbook -allows students to set realistic goals pertaining to education, career and personal development. The student is responsible for creating their own plan in writing.

 The Student Keys products are "designed to identify student's natural strengths in critical areas such as communication, learning, thinking, career choice, motivation and goal setting,
identify and enhance skills, transition from high school to college or work, develop effective test taking and study skills, encourage leadership qualities, choose realistic goals and fulfilling careers, help students learn about diversity."

The key to the entire program is the Personality Style Workbook which utilizes a "DISC" profile, classifying personalities into 4 distinct areas. These areas correlate to Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Conscientiousness. This is a commonly used personality factor inventory.

 PeopleKeys how did I love thee? Very, very much. I have a couple of degrees in social sciences and truly value what they can offer in terms of understanding human behavior and development. Required reading for my high shcoolers includes a couple of books on learning and perceptual styles. What I love about this binder is that it takes all of my required reading in this area, puts it into simple, efficient booklet form, and shows the student how to personalize it. In addition, these are the types of tests and personality inventories that some of our kids will take as they go through college (Dr. Dh has his students take the DISC for one of his intro college classes) enter or change career fields.

I signed up for this review with my recent high school grad in mind. He did the tests (taking between 10-25 min. a booklet), we reviewed the scores and information together and then he continued to fill in the rest of the booklet. Overall, he found the Student Binder, the tests and the information contained therein to be extremely helpful, clarifying areas of confusion, offering helpful suggestions and ideas to shore up weaknesses and pointing out strengths that he wasn't even aware of. In addition, the Career Choice booklet was exceptionally useful to him as it matched up personality style with career options, listing them by how lucrative they were and the training required. He actually set new yearly goals, modifying some long-term goals in light of the information he gained from completing the booklets.

Cub, aged 13, observing all of the discussion we'd been having over the results of the booklets, asked to have his own Student Binder, stating, "It looks like fun!"

The complete Student Binder is available for $49.00. The workbooks can be purchased individually, but I would recommend the entire binder to really understand the program and for maximum benefit. For ages high school through college.

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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Time for Learning- TOS Review

We recently had the opportunity to review Time4Learning.This is an on-line program that can be used in a variety of ways; as a complete homeschool curriculum, or in addition to a core homeschooling curriculum, instead of private tutoring, as an after school or summer school addendum. You can choose from grades pre-K -12th grade.
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This is an easy to learn program with extensive record keeping tools. Most importantly, it teaches information in a way that is logical and sequential: the lesson sequence is a straightforward screen, with arrows telling the student in what order each chapter will be learned, the lesson is taught, the program grades the lesson, the program tracks and reports the lesson. It's that simple.

Automated System

Your student could easily use this program with complete independence, but if you want to stay abreast of what's going on, there are plenty of tools to do so:
Tools for Parents
Another great feature about this program is that it is completely web-based. This means that YOU have nothing to download, no CD's to keep track of, nothing else to buy, borrow or think about. You sign up, log- in and are good to go. You and your kids have access to the program 24/7, meaning on those nights when you are lying there wide awake you can go lesson plan, print off free worksheets, chat on the community forum, or find more cool activities. Love that.

program structure
Flower  reviewed 5th grade for language arts, science, social studies, and 6th grade for math. Basically I assigned her a time per day to work on Time for Learning. Her very favorite areas were Science and Language Arts. The Science really grabbed her imagination as they go through the scientific method and ask kids to hypothesize what might happen during an experiment. This really fired up her imagination.
5th grade language arts
She also loved the Language Arts section and goes there first on a daily basis. Time for Learning is just part of her homeschooling routine at this point. When we've finished the basics, are in a lull, waiting for everyone to gather for reading, or whatever, Time for Learning is Flower's go-to activity.
Some sections she deemed, "too easy" and felt frustrated by the lack of challenge. The areas follow core standards, however, so check where your student is at. In retrospect, I probably should have bumped her up in areas other than math.

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What I loved about this program? Flower can work entirely independently on a variety of core subjects. The screens are engaging while not being overly busy or cheesy (Flower actually mentioned that she appreciated the decent graphics of this program!). For a motivated student there is always more good stuff to come.
The record keeping is extensive, allowing a parent to keep track of what the student is doing when; perfect for a homeschooling parent who works part or full time, has multiple kids, or is just plain homeschooling busy.
In addition there is a "play-ground" where the kids can do fun activities, games and puzzles. Parents can set the controls and time limits for this as well.
It would be easy to have a student do their entire course-work on-line with a program like this. Personally, I don't think a screen is the best teacher- kids need 1:1 interaction with engaged adults, warm bodies and oral feedback from human-beings.
That being said, this is one fantastic resource for the homeschooling, after schooling, private and public schooling communities! We will definitely continue to use this great resource as a supplement to the core curriculum we are already using!
Free Lesson Demos 
Time 4 Learning offers a 14 day free trial of their program.
Time 4 Learning is available for 19.95 a month for the first student.  Each additional student is $14.95 per month. High School is now offered at a cost of $30.00 per month. Time 4 Learning also offers Time for Art for students who have completed a month of Time for Learning studies.
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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Carnival of Homeschooling

One snafoo after another held up this week's Carnival of Homeschooling- my deepest apologies!
My tech crew gets home late on Tuesdays, but I think everything is finally fixed, working and raring to go!
Carnival of Homeschooling
Fall is kick-off season, whether you homeschool year-round or seasonally, in a relaxed or more traditional manner. Do you have any traditions for starting the season right? 20 of the Best Blogs Highlighting the first day of school traditions  Instituting a back-to-school tradition can help get everyone excited about the changes a new school year bring from Live in Nanny
Janice shares 3 questions to ask a homeschool mom graduate at Janice Campbell
Alasandra shares a different view on the Romeikes situation in Germany at The Dirty Little Secret H$LDA Doesn't Want You to Know  
Catherine Called Birdy is reviewed by Ann at Harvest Moon By Hand and comes with tons of great projects. Way to make literature come alive!

10 Tips for Homeschool Newbies by Julie of BraveWriter -inspiring thoughts from someone who'se been at it awhile.

Tips for Graduating your High Schooler from MomSchool - practical ideas from another mom whose btdt.

Chareen Rushworth of Every Bed of Roses addresses the very real dilemma of: HELP There's NO money forCurriculum! with some real practical advice!

Putting it Back on the Table: Television Watching at Time for Learning talks about an issue that doesn't get a lot of air-time these days but is very much worth re-visiting.

Sharon from Teach Me to Fly shares a short poem that shares how children blossom when able to learn away from their desk, by doing and experiencing different things.

Susan shares The first week of our homeschooling from Home and School. Need some inspiration? Check out their great list of picks for the semester!

Henry's eldest daughter writes about some of her favorite TED Talks at Why Homeschoool Another fantastic free resource that you'll want to check out!

One of my favorite things about being home with my kids is actually being home with my kids. Barbara Frank write eloquently about what that looks like for her at Time Together All Year Long.

I love historical villages. Annie Kate makes me want to road trip with wonderful words and pictures of Upper Canada Village.

Rebecca from Down a Rabbit Trail, a woman after my own heart, shares that learning IS fun at Circus Ponies and Clown Cars.

I hope you enjoyed this week's Carnival, late as it is! Next week will be hosted by Homeschool Buzz.  Submit your amazing homeschooling posts here.
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!