Sunday, May 31, 2015

Parties, Planting and Plays

This week was full of people; weddings, graduations, co-op get togethers, a Windows into Challenge meeting and more graduations. It was fun coming and going!

In between coming and going, we did some school, worked, continued to plant, take down fencing, trim and mow. Cub sallies on with Math U See. It was a good switch. He is almost done with First Form Latin and Advanced Biology. 3 Science credits in one year is not bad, if I say so myself. Flower finished another Spelling You See book, completing her last lesson with NO words spelled incorrectly. Great news. She loves knowing that she is learning a spelling system that is helping her master her most difficult subject so she often gets through a weeks' worth of lessons in a couple of days. She is finishing up Prescripts. She loves Prescripts. She said last week, you know the words that people used to use were so beautiful and the idea so powerful. Have I mentioned we love Prescripts?

Flower has been taking violin from a talented neighbor-ish, who also happened to be a good friend of hers. We've also been doing Piano With Willie, which is a terrific on-line music program, highly affordable, with tons of information on the web-site for musician wannabes of all ages.

Drama Camp is this coming week and the kids have been busy memorizing their lines. This is the 15th year of Drama Camp and the plays that the kids are doing this year are plays that we've seen in the past- they are both funny -can't wait to see the newest renditions! It's always a great week, with tons of friends, park time and the hard work of putting together a performance in 4-5 days. We Love it!

The kids hosted TeenNight at our house this week and even though it was freezing out (even with the bonfire and my winter coat), they had a great time making S'mores, roasting hotdogs, playing Spoons (or Sardines- who knows), taking their lives into their own hands by venturing into the barn and running wild over most of the acreage. Occasionally, a coupe of them would venture inside to thaw out. The vote is in and we'll do it again every month this summer.

Shakespeare Camp is right around the corner and Cub has been busy memorizing Ferdinand. Flower just walks on this year, as do most of the younger kids their first year or two. To prep, I think we'll watch The Complete Works of Shakespeare. All 37 plays and 154 sonnets in 90 minutes. You can find it here.

I am getting a blog make-over soon. Can.not. wait.It's only been 7 years- time for some style, dontcha' think? That being said, I would LOVE to hear and see links to your favorite blogs, any widgets you have found that are cool, headers/footer things? I'm definitely going to two columns and hope to have a drop-down menu. Anything else I need to consider? I'll give you more details as things progress, including the super cool gal that figured out how to update and coolify Blogger without having to export to WordPress. Stay tuned! @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!

Piano With Willie- TOS Review

Our kids have had chorale lessons from true-blue musicians at co-op but they've never really grasped how to read music and on-going lessons have been stymied by our locale and lack of piano. Enter PianoWithWillie created by JazzEdge  as we dust off the keyboard. This is an  on-line program that streams 32 lessons ranging from never having touched a piano before to reading music in a matter of weeks, depending on how fast one works through the lessons.
  Studio Access is a steaming product, which can be accessed on digital devices, making it even more flexible to use, especially for families with younger children who nap, and mobile keyboards.

PianoWithWillie was created by professional musician Willie Myette, who learned piano in a very non-traditional way himself. Because is family could not afford music lessons growing up, his father taught him chords and scales. His love for music and basic understanding of how to play drove him to begin teaching others at the age of 16. Since then, he has performed and taught around the globe. 

JazzEdge  Review
Easy Piano Basics - The program really is easy. Willie show you how to do everything, via video, with step by step instructions  Each video is short and lesson specific, with lessons ranging from 2- 10 minutes in length. Perfect to add to a busy homeshool schedule, or for adults who want to hone or re-learn long lost musical skills. I love the short lessons, because they are do-able, regardless of whatever else you might have to fit into a day.

PianoWithWillie starts with your on-line dashboard; this lists your recent activity and is your access to the larger site. You can customize the program to fit your own needs with "Piano Success." Start with the , "Getting Started" video and you will quickly understand how to navigate the site, which includes tons of lessons and music to learn and play. There is a lot to this program! 

This is an amazing concept for teaching music and I think one well worth looking at for families who value music education but can not get to traditional music lessons for whatever reason, find the cost prohibitive and want to learn from home. Great stuff. One of the few drawbacks I found to PianoWithWillie was that the streaming was often glitchy, or slow and we often had to wait for it to load (country living, y'all). If we had time to let the program load, this was not an issue at all, but we quickly learned that load time was just going to have to be factored in to PianoWithWillie.  This did lead to some frustration as the program didn't always pause to allow us to load the lessons, and at times we waited, yet it would default back to the beginning of the lesson, forcing us to wait for it to load again; we rarely were able to just "play" and through a lesson all at once. 

That being said, what is there to love about PianoWithWillie ? A lot. Willie is an affable chap, and an engaging teacher. He starts with basics, keeps the lessons short, teaches the students to understand and appreciate music as he is teaching them to play. Students get two views as Willie teaches- a front view of him sitting at the piano and an overhead view of Willies hands and keyboard. This could be distracting to some, but as a visual learner, I found the visual data to be great, and not overwhelming at all. In fact, I appreciate the dimensionality of it.

Both my 12 daughter, who is currently taking violin, is really nailing down the basics of reading music and my 20 college student is also going back and filling in the gaps from his spotty piano and chorale training. In other words, this program will appeal to a broad age and skill range of students, from motivated young beginner, to more musically versed students.

PianoWithWillie is a solid, affordable program, perfect for the homeschool family.

Conncet with Easy Piano Basics through Social Media

And check out Drums with Willie!

For more great reviews, check out what the rest of the Crew has to say about PianoWithWillie
JazzEdge Review
TOS disclaimer_zps7f3b646c
@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, May 27, 2015


A couple of cool homeschool Moms that we know got together a few years ago and started Wednesdays at the Park, learning and playing Volleyball. The season officially started today and it couldn't have been more perfect weather! The littles play on the playscapes, the Jr. Highers worked on skills and then did a couple of scrimmages, and the older crowd jumped right into playing games. Amanda brought Popsicles and fudge bars for 40 to celebrate J's birthday, which was a perfect addition to a late spring evening at the Park, complete with babies on blankets and dogs on leashes.

To top it all off, we saw hot air balloons! 
Guess where you'll be finding us once a week throughout the summer? 

@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!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Blessed Be the Name

@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!

Knee Deep (literally)


Watched a great documentary film "Weapons of the Spirit,"  this week-end on a small Heugonaut village in France that rescued hundreds of Jews during the Holocaust. The entire community came together to provide food, shelter and education to children whose lives were forfeit in the currency of the time. One of the villagers said, "It was not an extraordinary Christianity that we possessed. It was Christianity, put to the test." A beautiful testimony to an entire community willing to dare say, "2+2=4".

We are still doing some school- bits and pieces, along with math for Cub. In between the pieces, the kids are reading, spending hours playing Legos, walking in the fields and along the river, drawing, painting, planting flowers and getting lost in a computer game or two.

Feeche removed  more barbed wire, metal posts and general over-run mayhem in certain areas of the property. It looked too fun so the rest of us spent several school/work breaks in the fields with him, taking down wire, digging out posts. When I say, "digging out posts" you might think to yourself, "ah, a few shovelfuls, a  hard yank and voila, a post!" Not so, my friends. These posts, set almost 90 years ago, are 3 feet deep into prairie sod and put in to last the duration. It required digging, digging, removal of stones and rocks, more digging. levering underneath the post and then finally calling Feeche over to twist and strong arm the post into submissive compliance while mutterings of, "Come out!" were heard. Yeah, that was fun. Some of the posts we decided were just a really terrific reminder of what the place used to look like, and since our backs were killing us, we are all about the reminder. Plus, they are aligned so perfectly- the craftsmanship that went into all of it is really something to behold.


While this has nothing to do with what comes next, I thought I'd give you a real world view of living with 15 yo.
And since we were outside anyway, we decided to start on the last of the brick-work, a short walkway outside the back-door. And the huge uglified pile of bricks sitting under the west window will be in the ground. It's amazing how hardscaping civilizes a place.

Flowers garden is growing, though we had to cover it for frost this week- mid-May y'all and it was sweater weather all week long. We mostly cleared the front beds and added in flowers and hostas. As I was moving daisies around one of the trees, I took a step and sank over knee deep in dirt, one leg only. Yes, you read that right. The best we can figure is it was the place where the old tree stump had rotted away, leaving ultra porous earth. Once I was extracted (thank God Dr. Dh was home!), we filled it in with some of the hard packed dirt we had dug up for the brick walk-way. Even with that, Cub went out to investigate and the area was super squishy. While I was stuck and slightly flipping out about whatever earth dwellers might be touching my submerged leg, Dr. Dh had a good laugh at my expense. His response,  (laugh, laugh, laugh), "Get the camera!" (laugh, laugh, laugh).

Mensa's Summer 7-How to Prevent Brain Drain over the summer!
Mensa's Excellence in Reading- summer reading program by age groupings- scroll down to see the links.
Fill in the blank. What's going on in your world? 

@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, May 21, 2015

Unbroken- TOS Review

I first heard about Unbroken when one of my Master's class kids did a presentation on the book and film. I was intrigued. A week later the opportunity for Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition for came up and I was thrilled. 

Flower and I watched this movie in the back of the van on the way to D.C. This movie is about an Olympian athlete who overcomes one adversity after another throughout WWII. It's intense, disgusting and heartbreaking at times. Because of his status as a world-class athlete, he is particularly targeted for cruel treatment, and at one point is asked to betray his country for special privilege's. He refuses, making the abuse all the worse.  There are illusions to this man's faith, and one very powerful scene where he takes inhumane treatment so that another POW isn't abused. It was truly heartbreaking, but a powerful visual of what Christ has done for us. The faith aspect is always alluded to but it is not front and center in the movie. It would have made for a more powerful movie to include Louie's faith more prominently,in my opinion,  bringing redemption to the terrible circumstances this courageous man endured. That being said, the overall quality of this DVD, from packaging to bonus CD was outstanding. 

Included with the film is a bonus CD which superbly rounds out the film, delving into Louie's faith, ability to forgive and the Redemptive Power that sustained him in the face of cruel brutality.

Unbroken Legacy of Faith Edition by 
provides  bonus CD included with the film that includes
  • Coming Full Circle: Louie’s exclusive CBN interview
  • Faith Lesson: Louie discusses the faith that sustained him
  • Captured by Grace: The Billy Graham Evangelical Association and Louie Zamperini give an inspirational message of faith
  • Louie & Laurie: Pastor Greg Laurie interviews Louie Zamperini

This is an excellent film to watch for U.S. and Modern History, WWII studies, in a co-op or youth group, as a family night (with older kids) or simply as enjoyment for anyone who loves war stories and real life heroes.. I will say that some of the scenes are fairly intense, a bit much for my 12 year old. My older boys (ages 15 and 20), however, loved it. 

For anyone who values quality, wholesome entertainment, is a company that you'll want to follow and keep an eye on. makes available quality, Christian and family films. If you appreciate that, as I do, you'll want to check out the other great films available through 

Follow  on Social Media:


For more reviews from the Excellent Crew: Review

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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!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Challenge A Prep

We are deep into Spring, heading into Summer and I am regularly busy with getting things done and planning for what's next. Our CC Practicum is just over a month away and I am soaking in scientific copiousness and other brainiac cool things. It will be 3 days of sharing the classical model, CC love and talking with new and veteran homeschoolers. And an on-site bookstore. It's like classical Christian community heaven, right there.
In between that I am busy stock piling tons of info for Challenge A- which I'll be directing in the fall. Can.not.wait, y'all. Our group is 1/2 full (Master's class, move on UP!) with several others discerning if it's going to be a good fit for them or not. I have a Challenge A notebook already going, with tabs and sections, files and more. It is going to be a rocking year. Thought I'd share some of the goodness with you -even if you are not a Challenge student, there is a lot of fantastic info on getting organized, Jr. and Sr. High Homeschool, memorization, and much, much more. If I've left someone out, or a link that is too good to pass up, please let me know and I'll add it right in!

Specific Helps
Flash Card Making Kit
The World on a String- Globe Ornament
Infographics on 30 Different Countries
Creating a Geography Table
Continental Blob Maps
Squilt: Music Appreciation Made Simple
Henle Study Guide from Memoria Press. 
Challenge A Extra's Ebook

World Fair Tri-fold display- check out ClassicalTeacher at c3 

Great Posts from Challenge A Mommas
Challenge A: What I Can't Live Without- by 6 More Summers
Challenge A Notebook Organization by 6 More Summers
If I Could Start Challenge Again by Classical Conversations at Home
Let's Talk About Challenge A by Mt. Hope Chronicles
What is it like to be a Challenge Parent by Half a Hundred Acre Wood
Insight from a First Year Challenge Mom by Half a Hundred Acre Wood
20 Things I Wish I Had Known About CC's Challenge Program from EverFaith
Bridging the Gap - Foundations to Challenge Series #1
Bridging the Gap- Foundations to Challenge Series #2
Bridging the Gap- Foundations to Challenge Series #3
CC Blogs/ Carnivals/Link-Ups
CC Blog Roll, Link-Up and Carnival at Half a Hundred Acre Wood
HomeGrown Learners: Classical Conversations
Half a Hundred Acre Wood
Mt. Hope Chronicles
Suzanne Shares
Running With Team Hogan
Bring 'em on! 

@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, May 16, 2015

Work, School and Dick Van Dyke

Flower had a fun sleep-over with one of her goofy, clay making besties and came home raving about the Dick Van Dyke show. Too funny because the day before Cub and I had watched an episode: The Prank Phone Call. As a result, it's been the week of the Dick Van Dyke show. I miss the writing wit of Firefly, but it did prove too intense for a certain "G" rated girlie who resides here. Dick Van Dyke has obvious gags, but the delivery is perfect and no-one can move as fluidly, even if he was voted worst British accent in the role of Bert.

Geography lovers will want to check out THIS awesome site with great infograhics about 3 different countries- Challenge A peeps, check it out!
Looking for some good summer flicks? Check out this awesome list History Movies for Homeschool

It was re-enroll week at work. My ear is going to fall off due to the phone ringing, ringing, ringing. All good. I love the families that I work with!

Tons of chatter on social media about homeschoolers who work. The number of families who homeschool and have two parents working continues to grow. Check out my blog series:
Your Compelling Reason
Flow, Grow and Tools
Just 4 Things
Be Extraordinary
Looking for some good summer flicks? Check out this awesome list History Movies for Homeschool
Feeche and Cub have de-fenced and blazed trails. We have rolls of chain link and loops of barbed wire and many, many metal fence posts in the barn as a result. It's so great to have green lines of sight that aren't broken up by rusty, broken down fencing. Loving it! The cats and dog love that we are outside with them. Ursa is continually being taunted by the barn swallows, who I swear have set up a rotational schedule amongst themselves to take turns dive-bombing her.

Summer school has consisted of MUS, FFL, Adv. Bio for Cub and Spelling You See, Mental Math and PreScripts for Flower. Next week we are going to throw in Cycle 1 and 2 Grammar CD's from CC. I'm fun that way. Fall is coming together, which is relief because 2 weeks ago it didn't look so good for Cub. We actually have so many great academic opportunities for Cub that we are going to have to weed some out. A great problem to have!

@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, May 14, 2015

Vietnam Memorial D.C.

@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!

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Spring Around the Homestead

Aren't these beautiful? Flower had the great idea to use some of the old stumps as flower pots. Came out just lovely.
We had rain this week, which can be a pretty big deal around here. And we went from almost 80 degree weather back down to low 60's. Flower planted her small plot with green stuff- green beans, lettuce, basil, parsley, as well as some squash and can't wait for it to come up.
Feeche had finals this week and knocked out another semester with great grades and very little debt. He also got his car back, thanks to the love and diligence of our friend Don, who not only gave him the car, but made sure he found a transmission for it, and then another transmission for it. His heart is gladdened. Don and Ricci are humble servants, always giving, blessing, showing up and praying with no thought for reward or prestige. Our lives and hope are blessed because of them in so many ways.
So, once Feeche got over finals- i.e. slept and ate and slept and ate, he and Cub have spent the day de-fencing. Which means taking up and out more of the cattle fencing, held in by 4 foot deep sunk-poles and lots of rusty barbed wire  around the property. It is looking more civilized by the minute.
Found a cool web-site, Foldables, that shows a ton of different review games for concepts, ideas, skill, very much along the lines of Dinah Zike, who happens to have her own YouTube Channel, full of cool and useful educational ideas.
Been gearing up for fall and getting excited about The Lost Tools of Learning for Writing- the focus is on how to think in order to write well. I'm in love. Caitilin, you were right, of course!
And Roman Roads Media is introducing live, on-line classes with both Wes Callihan and Jim Nance. The homeschool world gets better by the minute!
Went to see Age of Ultron with my peeps. What a convoluted mash up of a would be story line. I'd heard great things but it's definitely a C imho, redeemed only by familiar characters and great special effects.
Spending lots of time doing training for Classical Conversations Practicum and it is a class act from beginning to end. The training, resources and materials available to Tutors, Directors, Speakers and the Management Team seriously terrific. They take to heart the adage that a rising tide raises all ships.

@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, May 4, 2015

A+ Interactive Math- TOS Review

We recently reviewed Adaptive Placement Test and Individualized Lesson Plan- by A+ Interactive Math  .
We have switched math programs of late and I was curious to see what gaps we had. The kids went through the math tests at or below their grade level (Algebra 1 wasn't ready at the time of this review) and were graded on their ability to easily navigate the skills for that grade. Fortunately, our changing things up did not appear to have damaged anyone beyond repair.

The program tests the kids, identifying their skill sets by grade level, marking their areas of challenge, and then creates a program that specifically targets those problem sets. It's really the homeschool mom's dream for skill based subject areas. By targeting weak or problem areas and creating a portfolio of lessons based on that, the kids can spend time shoring up their weak spots, instead of randomly hoping they fill in the gaps. Each subscription accommodates multiple students, making it an affordable bargain for even large families.

Family Math Package
We did have some initial difficulty getting logged in. It was easily solved by a call to customer service, which was GREAT!, by the way. They patiently walked us through our difficulty and waited on the phone until everything was solved and working smoothly- love that!
Also, we had signed up for Algebra but it wasn't quite ready. Cub is and that was frustrating to him. To be fair, math is usually frustrating to him, but he did not love that he was doing a placement test for 8th grade math while he was having to do an Algebra program (which he also does not love). Math is really just not his thing. Ever. 
Flower did the program much more willingly but has decided that unless it's Rosetta Stone she really, seriously, does not like on-line learning. My kids are book in hand types.
I mention it though, because this program is all on-line. That can be a HUGE benefit to your kids and family or a HUGE detractor, depending on which way your kids go. For us, it was a down-side, even though the program is excellent.

Both of my kids had their own  login, and could easily navigate the program.

They simply go to the student dashboard and pick a topic. Easy peasy.
They did the placement tests, and individualized lesson plans were created. Then they got to work. The program is well-done, easy to navigate, visually clean (thank-you, A+ Interactive Math!). 
There is everything to love about this program - straight-forward math learning, visually clean and stimulating, challenging, personalized, attractive and incredibly affordable. 

Why not use A+ Interactive Math? It comes down to preference. Do your kids enjoy on-line learning? Do they work well independently? Do you have a computer dedicated to on-line student learning (or at least hours set aside for that)? If so, you will definitely want to add this to your list of math programs to explore. 

A+ Interactive Math offers a plethora of placement tests and other awesome freebies!
Free Math Placement Test:
Free Family Math Packages
Free Software Download
Free Single Grade Level
Free eBook
Top 12 Reasons to use "Adaptive Placement Test & Lessons" program: 
Top 12 Reasons to use "Family Math package" program:

Current special sale (50% to 71% OFF) on our Family Math Packages and Adaptive Placement Test w/ Lessons program.
Find A+ Interactive Math around the web: 

Check out more reviews on A+ Interactive Math from the mathematical Crew:

A+ Interactive Math Review

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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!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Convention Time

The weather this week was lovely- spring breezes, doves cooing, pheasants chirruping and bees droning, trees blooming and spring flowers planted. A friend offered free hostas and lilies so Flower and I dug up a pile of plants and brought them back to replenish our still re-covering from the drought front yard. The spirea, crab apple and flowering shrub have been gorgeous and it's just a matter of days before our 20 yard, 1920's lilac shrub flowers. Lilac bushes blooming are one of life's simple pleasures.

Went to the area homeschool convention where Chuck Black was the main speaker. Cub's been a fan of his for years, bought the only two books he doesn't own and had them autographed- from the Dominion series. He reads like me so he's done with one already. Fantastic speaker and author and his wife is completely lovely too! Highly recommended books for kids 8-88!

Saw our friends from Demme publishing at the convention- who you might recognize from my recent Spelling You See review. We're crossing over and not only using their Math You See, but just purchased their Stewardship (personal finance) program as well. 

We didn't buy much else: 2 Usborne books- one on Shakespeare Theater and another Greek Myths, an absolutely beautiful book of Astronomy by CLE, the Jim Weiss abridged CD of For the Temple. 
I have a short list all around for next year, including the History of Science and the History of the Renaissance World, both by Susan Wise Bauer. Cub knocked out the 900 page History of the Ancient World in the first two weeks of his arm break fiasco and was simultaneously repelled and enthralled. More to come, which I know he'll love. 
Anyway, we are still finishing up this year. Cub is almost done with First Form, (finally, again!), and he's stopping for the summer on Chapter 11 of Adv Biology. Math will continue, just for fun. Flower is going to keep doing Spelling, Prescripts, and mental math.. One more chapter till Notgrass American History is finished. Over 900 pages, y'all. They loved it! And maybe grammar charts, but certainly listening to Cycle 1 and 2 Grammar in prep for Challenge A. 

Flower has taken to painting rocks. We certainly have enough of them! Good, clean fun, albeit hard on one's toes under the wrong conditions.

@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!