Friday, August 30, 2013

Before and After

The basement took the leading role this week. We moved furniture, swept, mopped, primed, painted and 2nd coated 600 square feet. This all entailed moving stuff around. And around. And around.
We also finished taping and mudding one of the laundry room walls. Paint, coming right up.

We also worked on getting the attic room finished. Half of it is primed. It's looking like a room.
We have new kick board to put up there- 12" in keeping with the rest of the house. The kids are back to negotiating for who gets that room again cuase it is one sweet walk up attic room.

AND, the boys sanded the classic stickney style stair-rail. Think itty-bitty spaces between square 2" rails. My plan for the stairs is 2-tone using gel-stain. So thankful for detail oriented workers with young fingers that don't mind repetitive, stressful movement.

AND we primed and painted the re-claimed 12" kick board from the 2nd floor to put in the basement. Dr. Dh and boys are working on getting the kick board installed today. Woohoohoohoo!

There is so much going on with some other massive projects that my head is spinning.

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School? Cub and Flower are still on their comic book illustrator kick. So far they have gone through Charles Schultz, Bill Watterson and are now on Bill Peet. This includes reading every book they can get their hands on about them, including bio's, autobio's, comic books, DVD's and miscellany, usch as above. They are having a blast and busy comparing styles between them.

What's the thing you love about the beginning of your (home) school year? Right now it's deciding WHEN we are going to start; which isn't for another week, 'round here. What about you?

Help a boy GO HOME
Have you done your good deed for the week? If not, I'm here to help. Our friends are working, praying and HOPING to adopt their 4th child from an orphanage in Thailand. This boy is the best friend of their 3rd son - they were best friends in the orphanage before Gabriel came home. The agency contacted our friends- after a "sure-fire" adoption fell through for him- to ask if they would consider giving this boy a HOME. The only thing between HOME and a life on the streets in a couple of years for this child is $20,000. Would you please consider generously donating to make Dominic's hope of home become a reality?  With one click you can help change Dominic's life from that of before- abandoned orphan - to a beauitful after- beloved son and brother.

@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, August 26, 2013

Beauty in the Heart- TOS Review

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Doorposts has released two new Bible Studies for teens ages 10-12 and older, or for younger kids with adult encouragement and help. We received a review copy of Beauty in the Heart.
This is an inductive Bible Study. What's that, you ask? Fundamentally, it is a term of logic that means interpreting scripture with no pre-judgment, from the text itself, through analyzing the evidence and drawing out of it logical conclusions. (definition from The Mountain Retreat).
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The purpose of this study is 2-fold:
1) To help the student grow in their understanding of Beauty
2) To help the student learn how to study the Bible.
Some of the Bible Study tools used in this study:
Comparing one passage of Scripture to another
Observe repeated words and themes in a passage
Outline the content of a passage
Gather all of Scripture's words about a particular topic
Study the lives of people in the Bible, nothing how their attitudes and actions portray the truths of Scripture
Study original Hebrew and Greek works and how they are used in other places in Scripture
Use printed and online study helps in your Bible Study
In addition there are many on-line tools and resources referenced in this study
In order to use this study you will need to have a Bible and a Strong's Exhaustive Concordance.
This study consists of 10 Chapters on Beauty:
Beauty in Submission
Beauty in the Heart
Beauty in Trusting God
Beauty in Humility
Beauty in Modesty
Beauty in Serving
Beauty without Discretion
Beauty in Crisis
Beauty in the Gates
Beauty in Review
(There is also a section with alternative questions for young men)
Each chapter has several days worth of lessons, which vary by chapter. Side-bars throughout include info on study helps, links, comments and questions, historical information and much more!
If someone asked me if this study met it's two stated goals above I would answer with a resounding, "YES!" This is a comprehensive Bible study that digs deep into Scripture, is not doctrinally defined, and demands that the student draw their own conclusions (that noise you hear in the back ground is me cheering over a really great Bible study for teens!).
Secondly, it requires the student to wrestle with the text in order to search out meaning, based on who, what, when, where in order to answer Why and Apply. (that noise you hear is me cheering again!). In other words, this is really great stuff. It teaches actual Bible Study (can I pause for a minute to introduce the concept of "study as worship" again?) along with content study.
That being said, this is an intensive study for those who are young or unfamiliar with inductive Bible Study (like Flower, aged 10). We did it together, which was great because we had a ton of fun and interesting discussion. But it did require quite a bit of time, just even as far as how much Bible reading there was to do. Secondly, the amount of writing required seemed like sheer torture to my more mathy girly. We mostly did the questions orally, or I filled in charts, which was a great relief to her. I share this because, while this is an excellent study that teaches how to use great tools, this is probably not a study that you can hand over to a child who is still functioning in concrete operations mode and have them be able to do it on their own.
Now Cub, aged 13, moving from concrete operations to more abstract thinking, could do the study on his own just fine. I just needed to point him to some on-line helps, put the concordance in an easily accessible location and he was good to go. He wasn't too keen on studying a book about beauty with a flower on the front, but he managed just fine.
Flower and I will continue this study throughout the fall. It's meaty, full of great discussion starters and of definite interest to any pre-teen or teen girl.  If you want your kids to understand HOW to study the Bible for themselves, (you know, so they can work out their own salvation with fear and trembling, instead of being spoon fed by whomever for the rest of their lives) you'll want to check out this Bible Study. It does just that.
Doorposts has also just released:

You can pre-order Beauty in the Heart for $14; the printed books will be available August 28 but if you order now you will receive a free instant- down loadable copy of the study in addition to the text.
Free resources from Doorposts
Content -excellent
Presentation -excellent
Organization -excellent

Click to read more reviews from the Schoolhouse Review Crew

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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!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Expo Party!

I spent the week listening to the 2013 Schoolhouse Expo. 40 inspiring speakers over a 5 day period. I took pages of notes, was totally inspired and am actually changing some things up schedule wise for fall. It was like a week long party- lots of laughs, great chat, inspiring speakers and resources galore!

My fav take-aways of the week:
Jessica Hulcey (of Konos) "Communist Lunch." Politics served up in a way the kids will never forget or romanticize un-Godly precepts masquerading as political sophistication.
Carol Topp's Microbusiness for Teens- we are making room for this THIS fall.
Evonne Mandela's crazy, non-stop, action-packed presentation on cool things to do for free on-line. She's teaching film making at Schoolhouse You DO want your kids to have her for a teacher. (along with Carol and Jessica) Trust me.

Best questions/ comments of the month:
1) Why did you spray paint your yard? Um, that's just the fall-out from scrapping a 3 story almost 90 year old farm-house and 2 major paint spills (cause my gift is klutz-dom), kiddo.
2) What have you been doing since you painted the house? In response to my answer the inquirer stated,
  "You all should have your own T.V. show. 
I have been laughing over this since. 
But yeah, why not? Dr. Dh and Feeche can rival the Duck Dynasty hair growth factory and we are probably as crazy as the Osborne crew-just from a "G" rated pov.

Painting the basement floor this week so if you need some hands on fun, give me a call and come on over - there are brushes for everyone! Then the newly painted floorboards will get nailed up and wow, it will be more amazing than ever!
So, school is so NOT starting this week or next. We have the basement, stairs and wood doors to finish and I still need to order a couple of things and co-op hasn't started anyway.
Plus, it's still gorgeous out and this summer has flown by. My paint the house tan is fading already. Which makes me sad.

"The days are long, the years are short."
Celebrating Feeche's birthday as well as my own this Saturday- He turned 19 and I turned...39; give or take a decade year or two.

It was a break-down kind of week- as in stuff.  Thanking God for generous friends who rescued us literally and figuratively: Feeche, Ruth B and Laurie R.
Thank-you from the bottom of our hearts for giving us your time and stuff so we could keep going!!
And, because the hard drive crashed (again, woe is me) and the cookies were piling up I am behind on reviews and blogging. Stay tuned 'cuase between painting the basement floor and trim I'll be posting like a mad woman to catch up!!
Reviews to come:
An on-line Virtual Assistant Course
Student Keys: Unlocking Student Potential
Beauty in the Heart
Time for Learning
 So MUCH good stuff out there!!
One more for good measure, 'cause you need a good cause to support:
 Did you know that EVERY DAY 5,760 children are orphaned. Please help bring one of these children HOME. In a couple of years, this young man will be kicked out of the orphanage and are no longer eligible for adoption. For most kids his age (12) this means a life of starvation, poverty and prostitution.
It's as simple as a click of a button to help this family and this child: Go Fund Me.

@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, August 21, 2013

The Mighty Big Sue

Happy Birthday, Feeche!

Dr. Dh had the great idea to take Feeche on the Big Sue for his Birthday. 
A little adventure among men (with a girl or 2 thrown in for good measure) is a good thing, right?

 A gorgeous day for a picnic and a paddle!

This little boat flew through the water- tons of fun!
Cub mastering the waves!

After sailing some smooth waters, the men-folk told Flower and I they'd meet us down-stream and started out alone. The were having a blast until they hit low water. Very low water. A couple of miles of it. It took about 4 hours to go 1 mile because they ended up portaging, pushing, pulling, and dragging both the canoe and kayak. They were more than happy to end their adventure long after dinner!

Cub's first words out of the boat, "LAND!" 
His second words were, "Where's the food?!"
Here he sums up the energy level all three of them had at the end of their little adventure. 

But we stayed long enough for Flower to hop back in and paddle around the gorge area.
She and I traversed the entire park several time waiting for the mighty adventurers to get to the landing point! 
Gluten free cake party on Saturday to dual celebrate both our b'days.

Thank-you M family for your support!!
 (i.e. the loan of the boats, and loading them into and on-top of the car ; )
Ya'll rock! 

@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, August 19, 2013

2013 School Pictures

Introducing the Gracious Heart Homeschool 2013 Student Body. 
Cub- 13, rising 8th grader
Flower- 10, rising 6th grader.

I haven't homeschooled in a house with only 2 kids---well, ever. When we first started homeschooling, Dr.Dh and I were both in grad school and after a year of paying $400+ a month in child care costs, I quit my decent job and ran an in-home day-care; 7:30 -5:30 a.m. 5 days a week. We had 5 kids, 10 hours a day, plus our 2 for 3 years. Decent money, especially since we weren't giving most of it away for childcare and gas, but I earned every penny. I hauled 2 infants, 4 toddlers and a K-er to every park day and field trip all across southern California in our Ford LTD, read out loud for hours to the lot of them and spent hours and hours in parks and swimming pools and play grounds with them, did art projects and prepared and cleaned up mass quantities of food each week. Looking back on it I'm not sure when I studied, but I did earn a grad degree in the midst of it all.

Then we moved and had our 3rd child, so we were homeschooling with a 2nd grader, pre-K and infant. It would have been a great year homeschooling but my baby boy just couldn't get the hang of breathing and we spent an inordinate amount of time at the doctors, E.R. and hospital.  Then we moved and were homeschooling a 3rd grader, a k-er and an infant who was still struggling with the breathing thang and because he couldn't breathe laying down, he didn't sleep much, which meant I didn't sleep much because I was rocking and patting and praying over my distraught little guy and so it was a tiring year or two.

And then, by the grace of God, we added the two yahoos in the pictures above. Of course, we could have just stopped having kids, which I was told was the sensible/ responsible thing, and I could have gone back to work and we would be in much better shape in some ways. But these 2 kids have brought us joy unspeakable, brought healing to our hearts in a year of the deepest heart-ache, sing constantly, make crazy jokes, are awed by life and remind us that God is good and loves us so much, all of the time. They are living proof of His love for us.

It's going to be a good year. A bit quiet maybe, but a good year.

Check the Hop for tons more great pics! 

@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!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Busy, busy, busy

This week: cut and rolled chain link we pulled out of the paddock. Gave away everything we could to whomever would take it and then gifted the left-overs from garage sale to Savers.

Stripped, sanded, stained and primed more 12"kickboard and doors. Worked on reviews.

Took our yearly haul of trash to the city dump. $32 for a family of 6/5. One suburban + 1 small trailer worth of trash, for the year. We burn and compost the rest, buy in bulk and local and frankly, really like the idea of leaving a small environmental footprint. I'm thinking of starting a blog: The Crunchy Con Chronicles, just to find other Crunchy Cons to celebrate the little things with. Whaddya' think?

From my blogger buddy Marcy; a great list of advice on how Decreasing your stress in the new homeschool year


The 4 Best Days of Summer happened this week; The longest running county fair in the Territories. Our state has just over 1/2 million inhabitants. 100,000 show up for our little county fair. Which rocks. Flower's name was picked in the free kitties drawing (actually mine was- she put every one's name in about 5 times). She was one happy fair going girl!
Reading Never Give In; The Extraordinary Character of Winston Churchill by George Grant this week. Love George Grant. Love Churchill. And yes, I love reading.

Ana White | Build a Vintage X Back Step Stool End Table | Free and Easy DIY Project and Furniture Plans
Ana White Knockoff Wood
This might have to happen. Right after we finish the trim and paint the basement floor.
Speaking of doors- we have a few extras, complete with solid brass handles and I'm loving the look of this:
Love it - doors that go nowhere but are still very useful!
I even have a GREAT place for it to go.
How'd your week go?
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner, unless otherwise noted.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Family Hope Center- TOS Review

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The  Family Hope Center exists to provide hope, support and real life help for families with children who are hurt or disabled in a variety of ways. Whether suffering from profound trauma, mild autism, ADHD or a host of other symptoms, the Family Hope Center has over 90 years of combined expertise in the area of child brain development. This clinic, located in Pennsylvania, operates from the belief that you know more about your child than the experts and that the brain has an amazing capacity to heal itself. If you are eager for the information and hope offered by The Family Hope Center, but don't live in PA, don't despair. The clinic offers some GREAT resources, along with workshops facilitated by clinic professionals around the world.

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One of these resources is the  15 chapter DVD Understanding Child Brain Development. Dr. Dh and I both sat down to watch; being the neuropsych nerd that he is, he couldn't stay away.  This 2 hour video did not disappoint. Clinic Director, Matthew Newell does a great job explaining the neurology of the brain, some of the methods used in healing the brain and the fact that there is hope available for those with ADHD, Autism, traumatic brain injuries, reading disabilities, and much more. For instance, at the Family Hope Clinic, they believe that a coma is actually a sign of hope because it's the body's last ditch effort to live.  This sort of paradigm-shifting way of thinking is part of the reason why The Family Hope Center can look at seemingly hopeless situations and hack them. They utilize a number of different methodologies, including nutrition, clean water and prayer. Love that!

In addition the focus is on treating the brain, not the symptoms; working smarter, not harder. This clinic takes a holistic, approach to treating difficult and seemingly  hopeless situations.

My first Master's Degree was in Human Development - which is all about ages and stages. One of the things I think we overlook today is that developmental stages need to be successfully completed to insure success in the next developmental stage. For instance, the developmental task of crawling was addressed. Many children nowadays are in walkers, jump-ups, swings, etc and perhaps not on the floor enough to really fulfill the developmental task of crawling. Crawling is important in brain development and specific disabilities and injury can be helped by re-learning to crawl. The unique approach the Family Hope Center takes is to treat the actual problem. In other words, the parents aren't the problem. The child isn't the problem. The problem is the problem. The focus on treatment is not on symptoms but on a wholistic approach to healing Love that.

I believe that one of the best investments you can make as a parent and as a homeschooler is to get educated yourself. I am always on the look-out for information that will help me understand and educated my kids in more effective ways. This DVD is a great resource for parents everywhere as it is a great introduction to some basic information about the importance of brain development. I could definitely see this being used for a homeschool Mom's meeting- watching the DVD together with discussion following.

For those families who are dealing with some of the following symptoms, "Stories of Family Hope," are from the Center from Family Hope web-site:      
The web-site also hosts several informative videos here.

Cost for the DVD is $19.00. To order please call 610-397-1737 or you can order Understanding Child Brain Development from IEW.


Monday, August 12, 2013

The School Room

It's School Room week over at the Not Back to School Blog Hop.
Here's the classic post that show the gutted first floor and what my big plans were. Big plans have been way-laid by painting the house, building brick paths, refinishing doors, actual homeschooling,  etc. etc.

Our trusty little library cart still rocks the Cabana (and it's never as empty as it is in this photo!)
And the breakfast bar, dining room is pretty much where we live.

Unless we're on the front porch.

We'll still hang out all over the house. Which just gets more beautiful by the day. We finally have the space for the rocking-est school room, but honestly, at this point, they have so much space and along time, they are good hanging out together in the dining room, living room or front porch.

Looking forward to seeing other people's spaces!
Curriculum Week in the 2013 Not Back to School Blog Hop

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Notgrass' American History -TOS Review

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We recently used and reviewed the America the Beautiful Curriculum Package from the Notgrass Company. This is a complete history and literature program and includes the following.
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In addition to the textbook materials, you'll be reading excellent "living books":

The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Spears
Amos Fortune: Free Man by Elizabeth Yates
Brady by Jean Fritz
Bound For Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen
Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt
Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Blue Willow by Doris Gates
Homer Price by Robert McCloskey
Katy by Mary Evelyn Notgrass
We are history, lit loving fools 'round here. That being said, I don't think I've ever, in 22 years of homeschooling, used a text book for either.  It's not that we don't use TONS of history/ lit resources, we do. It's just that I LOVE original source docs, living books and lots of discussion. I have, however, heard great things about Notgrass History and was curious what it was all about. Plus, I figured a history curriculum that used some of our favorite books (Amos Fortune is one of my  all time favs) it had to be worth taking a look at.

We were not disappointed. There are two textbooks; they are weighty tomes and I'll tell you why. They are CHOCK full of pictures, along with maps and illustrations. Every time we read together, we spent a good amount of time just looking at the pictures. Time well spent? Absolutely! In addition there are side-bars throughout with fun facts to know and tell that include information about the President's, fauna, toys of the decade, etc.These books are visual feasts!

In addition they are sturdy, hardback, full-color volumes, built to last. Each of the two texts includes 15 units: Vol. 1 covers American from 1000-1877, beginning with The American Indians and going to post-war re-constructionism. Vol II covers American from the Late 1800's  to the Present. Each unit consists of 5 Lessons.

Each Lesson is set up in the same way. There is a map reference at the beginning. Then the student text, complete with tons of those lovely visuals I told you about. Each chapter concludes with a scripture reference. And then begins the list of Activities for each lesson which can include:  Thinking Biblically, Map Study, Time-line, Family Activity, Vocabulary, Literature, Creative Writing, Student Workbook or Lesson Review. Don't think for a minute that you'll be bored using this textbook approach to history- it is full up of wild, crazy and very do-able ideas- dancing the Virginia Reel, making an Iroquois longhouse out of gumdrops and toothpicks, cooking projects, making puppet stages, research projects and much  more! And just like the text, the Family Activity Pages have clear instructions and great pictures to help your go at it hit the mark.

I haven't even gotten to one of my favorite aspects of this whole program. It is an additional hardcover text that includes source documents that cover the entirety of the program. "We the People: Words from the Makers of American History." This is 220 pages of source documents; Books and stories, newspaper articles, journals, letters, advertisements, speeches, songs and poems from the people. Love that!
In addition we reviewed the Student Workbook, Lesson Review, Maps and Timeline. Because I used this with both Flower and Cub, I did the review orally, and they took turns (in theory) answering questions. Initially I let them choose the pages in the student workbook they wanted to work on, but Cub felt that it was juvenile. In all fairness, he is a history loving fool (i.e. he didn't really need the re-enforcement at all), and can't stand workbook pages of any kind except science (he's my get 'er done guy). Flower, however, loves workbook type games and puzzles and loved it. The pages are quite varied; fill in the blanks, crosswords, matching, ordering, Morse Code, Word Scrambles and more. Lots of fun for everyone with really nice graphics and clear pages (in other words, they aren't visually crowded pages and the type is clear).

The Map book has text on the left page, map on the right of each 2- page lesson.  Again, excellent, clear graphics. You'll need a set of colored pencils for this, and you'll have a nice Map Book to treasure when you are done.

The Timeline is unique. Each page represents 100 years, in 10 year increments. There is space next to each decade to fill in events. Along with this there are graphics throughout, and some events are already recorded. For example, under 1100: "The Hopi people of the Southwest region to occupy the present-day village of Oriabi"

The Timeline and Map texts are staple bound with a glossy card stock covers. The Student Workbook and Lesson Review are spiral bound with glossy card stock.

So, what you get is a full year of American History, including quality literature, source documents, add-on resources, tons of visuals, activities (your Family Fun nights can easily be planned from the Family Activity ideas!), and FUN. We've done the 4-year history cycle for years, but this year we're breaking out and adding in American History, all because Charlene Notgrass had to put her creativity to good use! While this is a decidedly Christian program, it is not preachy or pedantic. I love how it starts out with the American Indians, and not in any off-handed way. There are tons of pictures, discussion about how the Indians in different regions and climates lived and how they treated each other. Ms. Notgrass does not demonize or romanticize the Indians, or other topics that we've read so far. Nor does she tell the reader what or how to think "correctly" during any of the lessons. I truly appreciate it when the author believes that the reader can form opinions for themselves!

My only criticism of this program is the Creative Writing lessons; which I believe to be too vague for kids in this age range. That's my steeped in a specific writing philosophy opinion, so take it with a grain. Definitely NOT a show-stopper; there is so much in here that you won't even miss any aspects of the program that you decide not to use.

The reading and discussion took us about 45 min to an hour a day. The Timeline and Maps can take from 15 minutes to much longer- Flower likes to  make each page a masterpiece, so she took much longer. The activities can take from 15 minutes to however long you get lost in them.

If you are going to study American History for a full year, make it this study. It is well written, visually beautiful, with tons of fun activities thrown in. Not only is this program perfect to use at home, it would be a blast to do in a co-op or Tutoring Center group.

 Notgrass Company’s America the Beautiful Curriculum Package is priced at: $99.95 and geared for ages 10-14 (grades 5-8).We also used The America the Beautiful Student Workbook is priced at 11.95 and the America the Beautiful Lesson Review which is priced at: $9.95.

Content -excellent
Presentation -excellent
Organization -excellent
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Saturday, August 10, 2013

Nitty Gritty Week of Summer!

This past week has been the Crew Blog Hop. You have GOT to check it out if you haven't already- tons of topics! And for you Pinterest fans, HERE's the Pinterest Board of the Hop. So MANY GREAT articles. If you need inspiration, compassion, great ideas, this is your go-to place!
Here are my articles: lots of words, there. Lmk what you think! I readand cherish every comment!

#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP
#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses

Have you signed up for the TOS Expo yet?
I have a FREE ticket to give away. Leave a comment and tell me why you'd like to win and "friend" GG by Google, networked blogs or email. It's that easy!
Extreme De cluttering : So, this week-end we had a 1-day curriculum/book sale for homeschoolers and then a 2 day garage sale. Our schedule for the week included cleaning and pulling stuff out of the shed, barn, 4 floors of the house, pricing it, etc and then selling it all for a couple of days. The good news is that we have extremely de-cluttered, made a bunch of money and met friends from area FB pages and on-line forums. Fun times! So GREAT to meet so many people irl- love that! Traded garage sale stuff for a box of organic fresh from the farmer's market veggies from a vendor who stopped by. The cukes are amazing! love that! Time for bed. We are all exhausted!

Have you checked out my latest review:  Bible Study for All Ages? GREAT program! Stay tuned for Notgrass' American History, Child Brain Development, a on-line Virtual Assistant Training Program, and much more!
Watermelon "cake"
I am in love with the thought of this. Gotta make it before summer is over!
Watched Fiddler on the Roof this week-end. Cried from about mid-point on.
topol in fiddler on the roof
Saw it in 3rd grade as a school wide field trip and couldn't believe my tough as nails teacher who cried through the whole thing. I get it now. Read parts of Chaim Topol's autobio last year. Such a brilliant actor! And brilliant film.
They always sing the Shabbat blessing over the children at the Adat we infrequently visit. It is so powerful to see all of the children, young and old, and even those who feel child-like, under a canopy, while the congregation sings a blessing over them. Powerful stuff, that.

Nitty Gritty Day 5- Staying the Course/ Finishing Well

Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses

We've homeschooled for a couple of decades now, and we really believe that a personalized/mentoring approach to education is best. Homeschooling is one method to deliver that personalized education. One of the major challenges of this is when the parents attempt to do all of the education, by themselves. They can't. They run in to limits- their own education, the need to pay the bills, and a host of other things. The great thing about homeschooling, at this point in history, is that there is a plethora of options available that weren't even 5 years ago: on-line classes, Tutoring Centers, dual enrollment, etc. So, it's possible to continue homeschooling way beyond the parent's expertise.

One thing I believe has been overlooked for a long time in the homeschooling community is the first law of the Teacher is that the teacher must know the information to be taught. Look, I've taught stuff I don't know, as I'm sure everybody has. But the reality is that the kids end up knowing stuff about as well as I do. So, if I don't understand something and fumble through teaching it, my students are probably going to fumble through learning it. Of course, kids do learn on their own. But more advanced subjects, those that require critical thinking skills, such as math, logic, good writing, upper level science, are going to be difficult, at some level, for most people to learn on their own, no matter how motivated. How do you know when to keep going, and when to stop?

How do you finish well on a path that is so recently forged, and being forged, as we speak?
Be willing to be creative. Be an ed hacker. Educate yourself about the options, which means stay tuned to what's going on, because the options are increasing exponentially.

Create options for yourselves and others. Please be aware, if you risk creating something, you will probably generate criticism because you didn't do it "right" or make everyone happy. Since you are NOT the happiness guru, remember that this is NOT  a reflection on you. If you're called, respond and leave others entitlement and narcissism up to the Lord. As Mother Theresa and Nike so adroitly state, "Do it anyway."

Along those lines: Be willing to let others teach. Be willing to teach others. I can teach your kids how to love writing and how to write well. I don't love science experiments. Let's trade. Everybody' happy, and learning more. Synergy, Baby: 1 + 1= more than you ever thought possible.

Be attuned to your kids and be willing to cut them free from the privilege of homeschooling.  One of ours declared (at the top of their lungs) mid-high school that they did not value education. This statement was reflected daily in attitude. Red flag. In retrospect, we should have enrolled them in public school the Abject defiance and dis-respect, along with passive aggression, need to be nipped in the bud immediately (if you can recognize it for what it is- passive aggression takes all forms), or they will fester, grow and break your  heart. And probably theirs. Don't make homeschooling a god.

Don't shelter your kids from the reality of what it takes to home school. I have for-gone a professional salary for over 2 decades to invest in my children and in my children's children. Covey explains: You are not simply raising your children, you are raising their children as well, which is a solid Biblical principal. When my kids have an attitude, I let them know that homeschooling- the freedom, the home-cooked, organic meals 3 times a day, the hours of reading together, the gift of work, the difficult academics, are all possible because of what we don't have. When you choose one thing, you often release another. Those  Sanballats who accuse me of cheating my kids of the privileges I had growing up are right. They have been denied some of the privileges. Along with some of the heart wrenching challenges and just plain old emotional, spiritual and even physical attacks. I count it a decent trade-off. Because my kids are growing up in a DECENT environment; and believe me, I could share some indecent stories of what I experienced that my poor deprived kids have missed. In addition to that my kids been offered incredible freedom and opportunities my husband and I never could have touched as children.

When is it time to think about different academic opportunities? When you can't actual educate your kids because of emotional or academic challenges (this one's for you, Dear Mae). I have a handful of friends with kids with unique challenges. They have thrived in a public school setting. They are getting the attention and care and resources that would be impossible to get at home. It's O.K.

When they have surpassed you academically or are going in a direction you are clue-less about. Some high schools allow dual enrollment. There are tons of on-line programs with great platforms; white boards with the teacher's on-screen. Make use of these if you can afford them. Have a garage sale or offer to write a review for them in exchange for a class if you can't (see "get creative" above).

Don't get locked in to one and only one perfect way. Inevitably, that mind-set back-fires. The only perfect way doesn't exist this side of heaven.

A well-know homeschooling speaker said years ago that he would know if homeschooling was a success if his kids grew up to home school. I disagree. I think homeschooling is a success when our kids grow up knowing how to think clearly and logically and can communicate in like manner, understand Truth and live it, and are able to make their own decisions in a way that is mature, loving and kind. But I would say the same thing if they went to public school, too. Homeschooling is a tool, a vehicle; if that vehicle becomes inefficient, for whatever reason, it's time to re-evaluate and trade it in for a more efficient model.

#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP
#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses
 bloghop (2)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Nitty Gritty Day 4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth

Nitty Gritty Day 4: The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32.
The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” ― Gloria Steinem.
"Postmodernism is "post" because it is denies the existence of any ultimate principles, and it lacks the optimism of there being a scientific, philosophical, or religious truth which will explain everything for everybody - a characteristic of the so-called "modern" mind."
Francis Schaeffer in "How Shall We Then Live" writes that, as Christians, our job is to discern the Spirit of the Present Age and speak to it from a Christian perspective. If we teach our children that there are fundamental Truths such as God is real, Jesus Christ is the Son of God, there is Right and Wrong, then we are teaching them to think from a position of Truth. Most of their peers will be steeped in mass media, an educational system that, if not bedfellows, is as least flirtatious with socialism, and a faith system that touts anything goes and Jesus (forget the Christ) is just a nice, loving, gentle, undemanding Father Christmas-ish type that will love you no matter what and that law(s) are for legalists and fuddy duddies (the heresy of antinomianism).
Of course, there are many public school families that teach their kids Truth, too. Their job is both easier and more difficult than homeschoolers. Easier because their kids can see the difference up close and personal between those who live a life committed to Truth and those who don't. More difficult because their kids will be confronted with a score of social situations that will tax them to the limit at a young age; maybe even sway them from their Truth itself. More difficult because the halls of academia are not always much about education, (via Hillary Clinton) as about social conformity; which, for right now, means Post-modernism.

What happens when you teach your children Truth, and they believe it and live it. For instance, if they believe in modesty and not dating capriciously? They will be mocked, asked if they're queer, made fun of, questioned and probably respected, not necessarily in that order. What happens if your kids show up to youth group without tats or piercings or the latest phone (or no phone at all?). What happens when they go to college  and they don't show up with the latest gadgets, new computer, new wardrobe, hip car and an attitude; oh, and have to work part time? Believe me, it won't be mild acceptance, even at Christian youth groups or Christian colleges. Not that "stuff" determines adherence to Truth, but our accouterments tell the world a lot about ourselves, our beliefs and values.

If you teach your children Truth, and they believe it, and they live it, and they walk a narrow road instead of a wide one, they will have challenges you can't forsee. They will be tested in ways you can't fathom. And they will either stay on that narrow, and probably somewhat lonely road, or they will turn from it. Or they might pretend they are still on it, claiming Truth, while playing with 1/2 Truths, which,  my friends, are whole lies.

The Dangers of teaching Truth for you, homeschooling parent are these: there is no insurance for your kids. They MUST work out their OWN salvation with fear and trembling. Homeschooling won't save them. YOU won't save them. Only Jesus (Truth) can do that. And they must encounter Him and submit to Him personally- there are no grandchildren in the Kingdom.

Your kids might make you proud. They might break your heart. They will probably do both, maybe simultaneously. You must trust in Truth, not yourself, or your abilities, or homeschooling, or curriculum, or doctrine or pedagogy. If you are called to home school, do it, and trust in Him for the outcome.

Truth in an age of Postmodernism is confrontational. Your kids will rise to the challenge or break under it. As will our churches, as will we. But that is no different than the challenge every Christian has faced throughout the ages.

The Truth Project
How Shall We Then Live, et al, Francis Scheaffer
Screwtape Letters, et al, C.S. Lewis
The Case for Christ, et al, Lee Strobel,
Post-Modernism, Christ and Classical Ed (GG post)
Can a Post- Modern Be Christian? (GG post)
Post-modernism and Iowa Re-define Marriage (GG post)

Come back all week long for more Nitty Gritty!
#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP
#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses

Summer Blog Hop

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Nitty Gritty Day 3- When Sanballat Testifies Against You

Sanballat- that old naysayer from the Old Testament who bullied and badgered Nehemiah as he tried to do something extraordinary, crazy and what everyone said couldn't be done. Sound familiar? Sanballat is THE one who made Nehemiah's life, vision and mission so miserable that his nagging, pestering persona has been recording since ancient history. Sanballat is a great analogy of the people who go beyond "concern" (though they initially might start out that way) and actively try to destroy what you are doing and how you are doing it.

Homeschooling, my friends, while it is now legal in every state, and everyone knows someone who has or does do it, is still way off the beaten path. And because of that, I am warning you, you are inviting the Sanballat's of your life to come out of their closets and holes and torment you. Because one thing our public school has taught everyone to do very, very, very well, is to conform.
The Nitty Gritty? 
Homeschoolers don't conform.
Sanballat was a bully (dressed up in a lot of royal finery- read, he's not always easy to identify).
He wanted his way, power, control and the ability to tell people what to do and how to do it?
Homeschooling paints a target on your back and invites the Sanballat's to act out thier control issues towards you, your family and your children.

I'm sure there's a few people in your life like that. So, what's a homeschooler to do?

1. Recognize that you will encounter a Sanballat (or 2, or 3 or more) during this journey of homeshcooling. Homeschooling is really about intentional parenting. Sanballat's hate that. They'd rather have everyone shuffling through the doors of  a mass educational institution learning the ways of dog eat dog existence. Because people steeped in conformity are easier to control.
2. Take note of how destructive they are- are they simply asking irritating questions or are they undermining your relationship with your kids? Are they someone you see everyday or once a year. Are they a relative, a social worker, a friend, a neighbor? How committed to the relationship are you? Have their irritating questions devolved to pity towards you or your children? (in other words, are their words or behavior getting progressively demeaning?) By definition a Sanballat is someone who can cause serious damage to you and your purpose. They aren't just interested in discouraging you- though  that could be a huge part of their strategy. They are interested in tearing down what it is you are trying to accomplish with no concern for your vision or purpose.
3. Determine what hedges of protection you need to take. Fielding irritating questions from a neighbor at the pool is a totally different deal than a close relative who undermines parental authority and trash talks parental decisions such as homeschooling, family size, and other decisions to or in front of the kids. Nehemiah built a wall around Jerusalem- a wall to keep the bandits out and the Holy of Holies safe from marauders. You might need to build some some boundary walls as well.
4. Determine with your spouse what measures you need to take for the health and well-being of your family and then stand firm.

This all gets really dicey when its a relative involved. Especially when you are attempting to live out scriptural mandates of honor, respect and love and the relative involved is trying to work out their own agenda. We've encountered this and it has damaged our family in fundamental ways. If I did not truly believe in the God of Redemption, I would say that these Sanballat's have damaged our family in ways so profound that members of it, and who we are collectively, might never recover.

One of our biggest parenting mistakes has been to ignore yellow warning signs- kids not being allowed to or belittled for calling home while in the care of these people, our decisions and fundamental family values being questioned and undermined like family size, where we go to church, our decision to homeschooling, our politics, where and how we live, being belittled in front our children and us. Incessant questioning of our decisions. Constantly feeling the need to justify how we live. Being the ones to take the hit and pay the price in the relationship, even when the return on it continues to diminish. Loving Sanballats is tricky. Nitty Gritty? Love them with your eyes wide open and maybe from afar.

If you go off the beaten path, prepare to get a bit beaten up. Especially if you are a Christian. The enemy hates you. He hates your children. He hates anything you do that follows a decision for Christ and not for socialism or self or conformity or him. Because Christians are far more dangerous than homeschoolers, even. And so, the enemy will send Sanballats to beat on you, to offer false testimony, to lie, cheat, steal, kill and destroy whatever they can so that you end up discouraged, give up and go live the same life of mediocrity and consumerism and so-so as everyone else.

If I sound like  I'm some crazy radical let me assure you. We pay our taxes (an awful lot of them!), we follow the laws and engage in a whole lot of other normal, expected activity. But the reality is that if you are seeking out what God wants for you in life, in you are seeking out what is best for your kids, it might take you beyond what's expected. You might start questioning formula, or hospital births or vaccines or government school. I'm not saying if you do any of those things, you are not following God or your conscious, I'm just saying you might start asking questions. Just like Nehemiah, the status quo might not "be good enough for you" (an age old argument against homeshooling, "Why do you think you're better than your public school neighbors?") The reality is you are not better than anyone, but you have been called to do something different.

When the Sanballats show up you need to do things to protect yourself and your kids and your family. This might include limited contact with these people. Prayer. Prayer that God would give you the heart, courage and resources to complete the good work that He has called you too. Nehemiah had the King of Persia on his team- firepower, right?! You have the King of Kings on yours (unless you don't know Him, in which case, pm me and let's talk ; )

2 Chronicles 20:17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the LORD will give you, O Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.' "

Luke 21:19 By standing firm you will gain life.
Come back all week long for more Nitty Gritty!
#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP
#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses
Summer Blog Hop

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Nitty Gritty #2- Show UP!

Nitty Gritty Homeschooling Day 2.
Show UP. 
This seems so, well, obvious, doesn't it? 
Let me 'splain.
We've homeschooled for over 2 decades and in that amount of time we've met  every kind of homeschooler imaginable. Those with profoundly gifted and profoundly challenged kids, those who are fabulously wealthy and those hanging on by the skin of their teeth. Those with lots of degrees and those with none. Those who are secure in their ability to homeschool and those who are terrified- you get the picture. 
Out of all of those people, the common denominator between families with kids who are educated and trained  and those who are not is this 
1 simple thing.
The parents 
Parents who show up interact with their kids, they get the curriculum out and do it, they show them stuff outside and in books and on web-sites, they take walks and work out together, they share their faith and quiz them, and even test them. They talk and pray with them, support their interests, read together and out-loud, talk about bugs and books and even sex, politics and religion. 
They have standards.
 They are engaged. 
They are directive. 
They provide the materials, and the time, the space and the place. 
They are intentional about the task of education. 
This is wholly different than the task of researching curriculum, or making a cleaning schedule, or listing everything you hope to get done. I had a homeschooling friend whose planning could have gone pro. She had color-coordinated binders and clips and alpha filed printables- all for one kid. But she never got past the planning stage. 
Education requires time on task. Engagement. Energy. Effort, on the part of the Educator. 
Homeschooling Parent- that would be YOU.
The reality is that there are seasons where it's difficult to get to everything you planned done, or even the basics. But there are lots of things you still CAN do- CD's, DVD's, computer classes (Schoolhouse Teachers offers tons of great classes for pennies a day), on-line classes, tutoring, co-ops. Make use of your resources, even if you are partly out of commission, have a sick baby, are fighting illness or have just suffered a crisis.  
Because if you have decided to homeschool, you have a JOB to do. 
The Nitty Gritty? 
Do your job. 
Doing nothing is NOT "still better than what your kids are getting in public school." 
Doing nothing does not prepare your kids.
Letting children run their own lives leaves them hanging at a time in their life when they need mentored, directed, guided, taught the times-table and how to know that they know.
This has nothing to do with methodology or money or curriculum or lack of curriculum.
Showing up transcends your age, their age, curriculum, methodology, economic privilege, academic status. 
It's what YOUR kids need from YOU.
I think a lot of homeschooling parents want something more than a boxed education for their kids. But, they get their kids home and the reality of another Big Job (which homeschooling really, really is) hits and it can be overwhelming. So, what's a Mom (or Dad) to do? 
Be an Ed Hacker. Think outside the box and get creative and create something more and less and altogether unique to you, your kids and your family. Dream big. Start small. Be faithful. Be consistent. Be clear about what you want for your kids. Organize your hopes and dreams from the top down (Covey) and create a Vision and Mission statement. Then organize from the bottom up (Allen) and list every detail you can think of. One of the biggest lessons I really, I mean really, got a hold of from the fire re-build project is this: Setting up is often 50% or more of whatever you are doing. The doing is really only 10-20% of whatever you are doing and the clean up is often 10-30%. The set-up and clean up almost always take more time than the actual doing. Homeschooling is really no different. Do yourself a favor and don't skimp on what you need so that you can show up to homeschool.
You local library- events, meeting rooms, books, DVD's, magazines and more! 
Discouragement and Getting Things Done (GG post)
Crunchy Cons (GG post)
Come back all week long for more Nitty Gritty!
#1 Organize You, Your Stuff, Your Space, Your Students
#2 Show UP

#3 When Sanballet Testifies Against You
#4 The Dangers of Teaching Truth in a Post Modern World
#5 Staying the Course / Finishing Well -when to stop, when to re-asses
Summer Blog Hop