Wednesday, March 30, 2011

SpaceBar Love

I'm in to loving things this month-blackboards first, then my new camera and now this: a keyboard.
Yup. We're getting  a new one. Thanks be to God and Hewlett Packard.
Hubby took it to the repair store cause the space bar went caput. Mr. Techno-Repair person proclaimed it plum worn-out. So, we're getting  a new one and more memory (serious Praise and Rejoicing- can you hear the alleluia chorus??).
I'll be taking a board break for a few days but hope to be back in time for a Weekly Wrap-up.

KB's phone was replaced today, too. Apparently, it didn't appreciate the cup of coffee that she introduced it to.

Love the gadgets. Really. Which are your favorites?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011









Monday, March 28, 2011

Teaching Our Children
The following is an open-forum on-line discussion that Andrew Kern of the Circe Intstitue participated in. It was way too good not to share. Enjoy!!

"Let me begin with this insistance: we must teach our children from rest, and not from anxiety. The most important thing we must do as teachers/parents is to never let anxiety be our guide. It led Abraham into serious folly, and it kept Martha from hearing our Lord's words. In James we read, "The wisdom from above is first pure..." The word for pure means simple. Pure water is simple. It is nothing but water. Wisdom from above is nothing but wisdom. It drives away anxiety. We need this wisdom to inhabit our souls. That does not mean that we need to attain perfect wisdom before we start teaching, but that we need to "enter into" that wisdom before we teach. It's a relationship with Wisdom, not a memorization of His words.

In that relationship, He will give you words to memorize, but He'll also give you time to memorize them. Outside of that relationship, you might memorize lots of His words and never enter into His wisdom.It's like Mary and Martha. Jesus didn't tell Martha it was OK to be busy, but Mary should also be left alone. He told her that "only one thing is needful and Mary has chosen that good part," which implies that Martha had not. However, Jesus knew and loved Martha. I have a theory about what happened after the Biblical story ended (by the way, you can read this story in Luke, chapter 10, verses 38-42. It's short.).

I think Jesus spoke peace into Martha's soul after she was willing to receive it, which required that she physically set aside her anxieties and cares and physically sit down and listen to Him. I think she eventually calmed down and was totally receptive to what He was saying. And then I think He turned to her and said, "Martha, would you please get me a cup of tea?" He created her to serve and knew that it was the delight of her heart to serve. That was why He wanted to cleanse it (her impulse to serve) of anxiety. She'd lost the pleasure and was driven by cares and worries.

I've learned over the years that teachers and especially home schooling moms have a lot of anxiety to deal with. You have an awful lot to be worried about. But you can't let that anxiety become your guide. If you do, then you will teach anxiety to your children instead of the peace you so earnestly seek.

So when I envision a week of teaching, the first thing I envision is the personal commitment to stay in His rest. Get there at the beginning of the day and stay there. Each day.

Things are going to happen, so I'm not talking about legally binding yourself to 60 minutes of prayer and Bible Study before the kids are up. I would suggest something simpler. Have some simple prayer that you pray every morning and keep in your heart throughout the day. For me, I have to keep it very short because I am very prone to anxiety and egotism. This prayer works very well for me:"Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me the sinner."

It works especially well when I want to murder my 16 year old for not holding his pencil correctly or when I have those moments of insanity when I think I am somebody when I am nothing. From that state of rest you will know what your children need to learn and you will be able to discuss things without worrying about passing tests and getting into college.

So here's an attempt to move closer to the week for a high school student. He should learn Latin, ideally from someone who knows it like Wes Callihan or Fritz Hinrichs or John Van Fossen. If you know it and have time, teach it. If not, get someone else to do it. If you can't afford that, get him Henle's Latin and tell him you want him to use it and that it is hard and boring, but at least he'll know what's expected of him. He should study Latin for 40-60 minutes/day, preferably in 20 minute chunks.

He should learn math on the same pattern (someone who knows it, etc.). 40-60 minutes/day would be a great amount of time. He should learn math by thinking about it and exercising it, not by learning processes for their own sake. If he can't hear numbers sing, find a teacher who can and get him to play for him.

He should read deeply, which means letters (history, literature, etc.). But you should focus on reading deeply, not doing the subject, which follows. The way to plunge head first into the depths of a book is not to do a literary analysis, but to ask the question at the heart of every story: Should he have done that (or: what should he do)? By answering that question, he'll learn how to read and how to think. It also makes it easier for you to discuss the book with him, because all you need to do is ask questions that help him dig more deeply. Character arcs, plots, themes, settings, etc. will begin to matter when you approach stories this way. It applies to history as much as it does to literature. He should write an essay every three weeks on what he is reading if you follow the LTW pattern. You can add other forms of writing if you like, but don't assign a lot of writing because you won't be able to keep up with assessing it, which is only slightly less important than his act of writing itself. Of course, he should be encouraged to keep a commonplace book or a journal, but not required, which rather defeats the point.

Science is a little trickier, because he's so close, agewise, to actually being able to do science, as opposed to just learning about it (which is really what he can do with history, literature, philosophy, etc.). If he has good background in logic and grammar and observation, etc. he should be encouraged to explore his own scientific questions. However, he also needs to learn the history of science and the great scientific discoveries and theories. This should be taught, but not as a goal, as context. If he likes engines, let him study the history and development of the engine very closely. That will provide links and connections to the wider world of scientific discovery.

But what you want him to learn in science classes is how to think like a scientist, which includes background knowledge, ordering and cataloging information, and looking for truth by any means necessary, with an analytical/critical approach.

Prayer and time in the scriptures should probably be done separately, though the scriptures will permeate all his thoughts and your discussions, though I would encourage you not to force this. Boys, perhaps, especially seem to find that irritating. Pray when issues come up and at meals and to offer the day to the Lord. Teach them the disciplines and traditions you have learned.

I would like to think he is also drawing at least two or three times a week, so that he can learn to see. The arts are about training the senses, and drawing/painting/sculpture trains one to see like nothing else.

Music trains the ear to hear and should be taught for that reason, regardless of talen or ability. He might never be able to play well, but he'll always be able to hear better if he plays the piano or violin, for example.

I would also recommend he cook at least once a week. This will train the taste buds and the nose. Let him cook literally anything he wants as long as you can afford it. Hot dogs are fine, as are complex and fancy meals. Let him decide.

Other than that, let him study whatever he's interested in. If that is the Green Bay Packers, that's fine. Get four hours of Latin, math, letters, music, art, cooking, and science every day and it's amazing what you can cover. You might even find he's got so much time on his hands he starts reading Jane Austen.

No, that won't happen, but you never know."

Sunday, March 27, 2011

That's Love, Baby!

Because I am a generous person I share my things with my children. Even the stuff I really like:
My bed, which is huge and fluffy and vundabah and, according to my husband, really only made for 2.
My tea, rooibus and black, which has become an important part of my life now that coffee isn't (still sniffling over that one).
My amazing Shea butter concoction that comes in a gourd and is artistic and super moisturizing and is supplied by my thoughtful oldest, imported from Africa, via KY.
My camera. I've been taking pictures since I was 8. My grandpa gave my sister and I two old cameras that year (from the 50's) and I became a picture taking fool. My very first large purchase was a camera, bought with money earned life-guarding at the age of 15. I've been shooting stuff for a long time.

Because I love my children they live through situations that jeopardize the stuff I really like. For instance, hypothetically of course, say my camera, for instance, is dropped, lens open, on the concrete and killed outright. I  just smile at them, I mean, I would, if this happened in real life, and tell them that accidents happen and it's o.k. and it's no big deal that the Kodak moments of our life will no longer be permanently recorded on film (or memory card).
And, 'cause my husband loves me, both hypothetically and in real life, he buys me a brand new one (camera, not kid). The circle of life love. It's a beautiful thing, yes?

Introducing my new toy tool.
I am, once again, a picure taking fool, capturing Kodak moments, both real and imagined.

A Blessed Sabbath!

Friday, March 25, 2011

How Do You Get it All Done

This week's Saturday Special at HSV is "How to Get it All Done."
I obviously don't get it all done, but it's always nice to dream that it could happen, right?
I stick with "must do's" and a "Bug" list. And besides that I try to discipline my inward drive to do more and more and more because I can get incredibly task focused and drive the people that I live with (including myself) to distraction. So, how 'bout you?

What are your "must do's? The things that have to get done for you to have peace of mind and go about your day reasonably well?

Household:  Laundry has to be under control (not more than a load or two to be washed, folded and put away). 
Kitchen, neat and clean, counters cleared, with several main meals planned and ready to go.
Bathrooms, picked up, reasonably clean throughout the week with thorough cleaning 1x a week.

Homeschool: Daily- math, english, academic day assignments, memory work. Weekly- history, poetry.

Personal: I write and read consistently through the week. personal devotion time.

What's on your "Bug" list (you know the things that bug you or demanding attention because it's just time to take care of it?)

This week it was getting the blackboards painted. Coming up is preparing for gardening season. In a month it will be working on the the house re-build again. I have a list of projects on Ana's site that I want to get done this summer, but I need to stagger it or it will consume my days. I also have a list of writing projects I want to get done. Finishing up the kids school work for the semester, planning summer school/projects, planning next year.

Personal:  I need to come up with a reasonable work out schedule that I can do with my knee and get back to WW.

Household: My bed in the living room. I am really hoping the bedrooms can get done before next winter's seasonal lock-down in order to avoid another year of (yes, that is bugging me).

Link up and share! Feel free to add helpful hints or tips about how you manage your life! Stop by and comment on each other's blogs and don't forget to link back to Golden Grasses.

BiG & LiTtLe THinGs

My friend Mary, who is a scientist, said to me that life is made up of all sizes of things. This week:

Cub has really started to grasp the Singapore story problems and worked through 8 pages on Thursday. He is also within 2 lessons of being done with LoF Fractions. It is singing to him and he is harmonizing. I love that.

Flower just gets math. It's her thing. She is cruising through double digit multiplication, just cause she like the short cuts. Guess I should really teach her how to carry with multiplication, too.

Memory Work: VP Cards 1815 to present. Did memory games with them like we used to. Flower loved it. Poem this week was Charge of the Light Brigade. They both had it almost memorized. Did you know there was a movie by the same title? Gonna have to check it out.

Enjoying SOTW IV Activity Book though going slowly. The note taking is a lot for Flower though she puts forth great effort. I took to writing down the correct answers ahead of time for her on one of the smaller white boards so that she could copy it. The maps are great- the kids are loving the map and timeline work.

Feeche is really looking forward to finishing up class day responsibilities. He has spring fever big.time.

Our rushing river. Only in the territories can you have flood warnings at the same time its snowing. Yup. Snowed this week with more to come.

My big blackboard is almost all framed. The wire is switched around and I just need to secure the board and hang it on the wall.

I finished Daughter of China this week and am half way through Half the Church. The first heart breaking, the 2nd thought provoking. I'll be posting reviews soon.

The notsolittles have rediscovered The Littles and inhaled several of them this week from the library. Cub is re-reading them under the guise of reading them to Flower. They are as delightful now as they were when I read them to Miss. R 20 years ago.
AG purses. Aren't they adorable?!

It's bike weather cause the 10 foot snow drifts have melted. Cub and Flower are back at it again, leaving mud tracks around the house and spending every spare minute going up and down the long driveway.

I made my very own blog button (check it out on the right hand side bar. Better yet, grab it, would ya?).

And I hosted my very first blog link-up last Saturday! Check back tomorrow for my 2nd in conjunction with HSV "How To." Tomorrow's will be "How to get it all done." Hope you can link up and share your thoughts!

I put a large white with blue swirls ceramic vase full of pussy willows in our off the kitchen bathroom. It is so pretty. It feels good to finally be adding some pretty, personal touches to our living space.

We watched Voyage of the Dawn Treader last week-end. Not bad, lots of great elements, though the plot is fundamentally different than the book. I'll link to my review once I get it up.

How was your week? What was loomed large? What were your little wins? 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Transhumanity, U & God

Someone asked me (Hi, Turkana!) what book from the over 50 that I read last year would I most recommend. It's this one:

It is not the most elegantly written and the ending is a bit rough, but it is, imho, addressing an issue that Christians need to be aware of and get a firm grasp on:  Singularity and Transhumanity.

I live with a geek so I've been aware of these term for a couple of years, think Borg, think Matrix, think Jack Nicholson axing out the bathroom wall and creepily whispering, "Here's Brucey" Don't laugh too loud because there are annual conventions that promote transhumanity and singularity.Time ran a cover story about it in February and how the latest projections put the possibility of cyber-"living" (active verb) at 2045.

So, what's the big deal? We'll be bionic men and women, outfitted with not only bionic body parts but bionic brains. We'll  have access to more information, more quickly than ever before. The mentally retarded will have the power to transcend their limitations. Sounds good, eh?  Do some research, think it through, pray and discern what the Lord would say about becoming  a cog in a machine instead of a unique personality, complete with a God inspired soul that allows you to fellowship with Him.

Francis Schaeffer asserts that Christians must "understand what confronts us antagonistically in our own moment of history." (The God Who is There, pg.32). This concept of singularity, in light of my faith that asserts unique personality, that asserts that we are Image Bearers of the Almighty, seems like an antagonistic confrontation.

I feel more strongly than ever that we need to prepare our children well for the days ahead. If they are fed a steady diet of comfort, ease and entertainment, going along with the crowd, wading in the shallow end instead of diving in deep, are not challenged to stretch and grow intellectually and spiritually, then the siren song of transhumanity might lure them into its cyber fields of poppy induced never-land.

Our kids have already survived the aborticide and infanticide that ravages the world today (50,000,000 babies aborted world wide each year). There challenges to come will attempt to abort their unique personalities on a whole new level.

Our approach to inoculate our kids against the coming attacks on their personality, their individuality and the very essence of their humanity is 2 fold.
1.Teach our kids how to learn and think for themselves and to develop their humanity. We live counter culturally, homeschooling is a part of that. Our kids are used to going against the grain. It's how we live. Not just to live that way, but because our relationship with the Lord keeps leading us that way. We also educate with intention and purpose (see my post on Pedagogy).
We believe that study is a form of worship and we study in this home. We invest in people. We pray for the persecuted church. We have compassion on those who are suffering. We give generously, even when it is a sacrifice. We seek the Lord, even when it is intimidating, challenging or causes us discomfort.
2.Teach our kids to know and love the Lord, to develop their relationship with Him. This means having a transparent relationship with the Lord yourself. This means allowing your kids to know your challenges and struggles (taking care to guard their ages), your joys and successes and being transparent as you prayer, worship and study the Word.

It's time Christians stopped eating their own and battling each other over petty disagreements like the age of the earth(seriously, people, can't there be diversity within the body?!) and prepare for the days ahead. They are coming and they will present challenges the likes of which we have not seen before.

"We and the world will always be at war.
Retreat is impossible.
Arm yourselves."

What do you think? Talk to me.

Disclaimer: Sorry if this is total whiplash from yesterday's light and fluffy post on "Blackboard Love." My goal with this blog is to give witness to creating a life of value, "crafting the extraordinary from the ordinary."  Beauty and intellect both fit within those parameters, don'tcha think?

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blackboard Love

True Confessions: I've had a love affair with black board paint since it first came out. I finally got around to doing something wonderful with it!

First up, a rejected country calendar holder that was languishing at the thrift shop. Score for $1.99

I took it home and lightly sanded it.

 Then Flower and I got to work painting. I had a couple of sample colors (I think they were 2 oz samples) that I'd purchased when I was trying to pick the perfect shade for my powder room. We put 2 coats on both the frame and the middle area, where the chalkboard will be.

 Once it was thoroughly dry, I roughed it up a bit. I love the look but Flower was aghast. "What happened here?" she demanded. "I antiqued it" came my calm reply. "Why" she lamented. "Oh look, we still have some purple, we can fill in all of the ugly patches."... I prevailed but she is still maintaining that she "hates the antiquey look."

Then I masked off the frame and filled in the middle with blackboard paint.

Dont ya love my bright blue tack? That will get fixed once it goes to its permanent spot.

I LOVE it.

 Next up I had a beautiful large picture frame that my friend with killer taste gave us after the fire.
Feeche cut the board of plywood (a remnant peice that was not smooth but not warped) to fit and then I started caulking. The caulking turned into a major commitment and I ended up covering the whole thing, sanding, caulking again, sanding lightly.

Because I knew I'd be using the brushes again, with a wait in between, I just wrapped them in saran wrap and kept them somewhere cool for the day.

When the caulking was completly dry I covered the board with blackboard paint.
Let dry completely.
In the frame. I need to change the wire on the back of the frame which is why I didn't completely frame it or take the plastic off. . The size is 3' x 2' and I'm going to put it on the wall next to the refrigerator.

Detail of the frame, with the plastic off. Isn't it beautiful?!

Nothing written on either board yet because the paint is supposed to "cure" for 3 days and I was excited to get show off our new writing surfaces.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Planning and Pedagogy

It's the time of year when people are planning summer, their vacation, and next years school. This occurs while we are trying to juggle ending a myriad of things from this year, along with all of the stuff that never ends.
It can be overwhelming.
A young homeschooler asked how to do it. Let me s'plain; decide, commit, make a plan.

Start with a pedagogy. That's a big word, but very useful. It means, "the art and science of teaching."
My pedagogy is classical. I'm really a neo-classicist, but that's a different discussion.

Maybe your pedagogy is something else. Whatever it is, understand it, what makes it unique and what makes it work. Imho  there are pedagogy's that I am a firm believer in education educating.

O.k., once you have your pedagogy in place, everything else follows.

First of all, understand it. Get educated.
1. Classical educators- read Bauer, Pudwa, Grant, Wilson and a host of others
2. Charlotte Mason - Schaeffer MacCauley, Clarkson, Andreola, etc
3. Unschooling- Holt, Farenga, HEM, Llewellyn, Colfaxes, etc.
4. Unit Studies/ Delight Directed- Moore, Bennett, etc.
5. The Principal Approach- Slater, Hall, etc
 and of course, there are many more.

Secondly, have a clear grasp of the framework:
As a classical educator I follow the Trivium.
My Grammarians (K -6th) memorize and get a wide sampling of a broad range of subjects, learn phonics and how to read with ease and comprehension, and have a clear understanding of basic math functions.
My Dialectic age kids (Jr. High) learn fallacies and logic, soak up more math and hone their writing skills.
My Rhetoric aged kids (Sr. High) start going more in-depth in specific areas. They are pushed to write with more clarity and maturity, speak well and with ease and begin to develop their own interests and passions. Which they seem to follow with or without  my approval rating.

Think about Goals for each child for the upcoming year:
I make up a sheet with Goals/Subject/Curriculum across the top. Curriculum is a tool, not a slave driver. Too often it becomes just that. The goals are the important thing here, focus on the goals, not the curriclum.
I also list the following 4 areas: physical, mental, spiritual, social for each kids.

Can your kid climb the fireman's pole at the park, go hand-over-hand on the horizontal ladder, swim?
Can they make eye contact and shake hands with an adult, use a napkin, cover their mouth when they sneeze?
Do they know how to pray, desire to know God, read the Bible on their own?
Are they making age and stage appropriate progress in more than one area?
I always joke that my kids are idiot savants. They are all pretty sharp in some areas and kinda brain dead in others. I want to fan the flames of fire under their talents but I also want to shore up areas of inadequacy.

Research Curriculum and Opportunities:
Do they fit with your stated pedagogy?
Do they fit with your stated goals?
Do they address a need ?
Keep in mind that just because something is available and good, it doesn't mean you have to or need to participate. It might not be bad, but it might just be noise.
Assess cost of extra-curriculars: will it create unnecessary driving or wait time for any littles or Mom, cost more than you can reasonably afford, steal from other areas? Will they subtract or add to?

Choose Curriculum following your Goal Sheet.
What subject areas can you teach  more than one child in? We do memory work and history together.
There are a zillion options out there. Most of it is really good. Find something and stick with it (for a couple of years at least)

I usually pick history first (it's the backbone of a classical curriculum). I love it, the kids love it and we always want to learn more. We have loved The Story of the World I - IV and have used it for many years, Diana Waring's stuff, Memoria Press and The Famous Men series. All are excellent. We've filled in with readers from Sonlight, Bethlehem Books, G.H. Henty and many many more.

Then writing, because I love writing. We've used IEW for years. LOVE it! This year, because of co-op and our fire, we used Writing Tales. It was excellent as well and very easy to use. I still like IEW's approach to writing better, but I really like the grammar study included in WT.
Then Math. I love eled math. I really like Singapore and Right Start. More than anything else we've ever used, they teach the kids how to think mathematically. We also use Minute Math and flash cards.
Science, etc.

Curriculum is important but it should not be the driver in your homeschool. No matter how much good curriculum you have, if you don't use it or teach it doesn't really matter. Honestly, you could homeschool with a few books and writing utensils. Everything else is a bonus. Develop your pedagogy and everything else will fall into place.

"Without a vision, the people will perish."
Proverbs 29:18

Questions, comments? Do you agree, disagree? How do you plan your homeschool year?

Link up at The Hip Homeschool Mom for more great discussion about homeschooling

Monday, March 21, 2011

Educational Foundations

"The Teacher" by Jocob Abbott, 1844. From p. 64:
There are three kinds of human knowledge which stand strikingly distinct from all the rest. They lie at the foundation. They constitute the roots of the tree. In other words, they are the means, by which all other knowledge is acquired. I need not say, that I mean, Reading, Writing and Calculation.
Teachers do not perhaps always consider , how entirely and essentially distinct these three are from all the rest. They are arts; the acquisition of them is not to be considered as knowledge, so much as the means, by which knowledge may be obtained. A child, who is studying Geography, or History, or Natural Science, is learning facts, --gaining information; on the other hand, the one who is learning to write, or to read, or to calculate, may be adding little or nothing to his stock of knowledge. He is acquiring skill, which, at some future time, he may make the means of increasing his knowledge, to any extent.
This distinction ought to be kept constantly in view., and the teacher should feel that these three fundamental branches stand by themselves and stand first in importance. I don not mean to undervalue the others, but only to insist upon the superior value and importance of these. Teaching a pupil to read, before he enters up on the active business of life, is like given a new settler and axe, as he goes to seek his new home in the forest. Teaching him a lesson in history, is, on the other hand, only cutting down a tree or two for him.”

Do you agree? Disagree? What are your thoughts?

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Eternity in My Home

C.S. Lewis once observed that God is not so much offended that we want so much as by the fat that we are satisfied with so little. Though he offers us the highest of adventures of our Christian life, we settle for the state of mediocrity of our our lukewarm religious routines.    Gregg Harris

True Confessions. I want a lot. Too much, maybe. I've been a homeschooler for 20 years and a full time stay-at-home Mom for 17. I've earned some money occasionally but not enough to call it more than seasonal. For the most part I've had the luxury of being home. I've had the luxury of raising my kids. I've had the luxury of knowing them and wrestling out relationships with them beyond just a couple of hours a week- fit in between school and sports and music and part time jobs and other relationships.
I've also given up quite a bit to do that. I haven't invested in a profession. I haven't built a retirement account. I haven't written the books I am chomping at the bit to get done, or sold articles or seen clients, or dressed professionally or spoken on a wide platform or a whole host of other things that I have wanted to do and have the ability to do and have had the opportunity to do.
I've made choices that have entailed sacrifices.
And it's' been frustrating to me.
My 2 sons are 5 1/2 years apart. By the time my oldest son (and 3rd child) was five, I was finally pregnant. If I hadn't gotten pregnant it would have been so easy to go back to work, to make money and impressions and have vacations, to write. But clearly, I can't image my life, or the world really, void of our two youngest children. They are full of joy and passion and intelligence, wit and zeal for the Lord. And in light of choosing between them and my choices, a profession, money, acclaim or vacations, the choice is so clearly obvious. It's the people, mine for a season. Created for something amazing, something eternal.

I had a list of what I wanted to get done this week-end. Writing and projects and some house things. Instead I grocery shopped and cooked and talked with the family, spent time with KB, made a special breakfast at the request of the kids  (homemade crepes with real whipped creme-delicious and veery time consuming), time on the phone with family. I was glad to do it; but torn. Like I am so often. Torn between the petty and temporal and the eternal beings that I am blessed with in this life.
Someone wrote the book I've been speaking on and talking about for years. They wrote it while their kids were in daycare full time. It's o.k. I'm sure it's great. At least it's done.
My husband pointed out tonight that our kids are eternal and books are temporal. That whatever I get done, or don't, is really up to God. That I am investing in the eternal. The eternal in my home

Shabbat Shalom!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Homeschool Convention Link-Up!

I've written a "How to Manage Homeschool Conventions" over at HSV today,. Head on over and check it out! I thought it would be fun to link up here with tips and info about conventions that you have to share.

Tell us your best Convention tips, your favorite speaker, your favorite conference! 

Link up below 

 Link back to Golden Grasses on your site so that others can join the conversation!

What conventions have you gone to  and how did you participate?
Northern CA (attendee), OH (attendee), NM (vendor), Glorietta (vendor), SD (speaker, vendor, organizer), ND (speaker), NE (vendor)

Who is your favorite convention speaker? Hands down, George Grant, one of the great Christian minds of our time, but also Dianna Waring and Sally Clarkson

Who would you like to hear? Susan Wise Bauer, Jessie Wise

Have you participated in any convention meet-ups? Not yet, but I'm hoping to this spring with my friends Ana and Cailtin!

What is your best convention tip? Wear comfortable shoes, take a water bottle, set a budget! See my post at HSV for all of them ; )!

What "great discovery" have you  made at a convention? Right Start Math, "teaching humor" (Dianna Waring), "Sympathize with the heart of your child" Sally Clarkson

Friday, March 18, 2011

Signs of Spring

My goal is to have something to read every time our writing group meets. It is good discipline, but it has been challenging to find time to write.  I really read and write and study best with no distractions. My life is full up with distractions.

I've been writing about the fire, and my Dad and sister, and memories. I had been writing a  book, and actually have over 20,000 words committed to it. It is not at all about the fire or my family of origin or of loss. In fact, quite the opposite.  But, gosh darn it, I continue to be distracted by the events of the past year. Death is so uncompromisingly final. On this side of eternity I am left with ambiguity.
I read St. Patrick's Prayer yesterday. Meditating on God above and beneath me, beside and within me, despite unchanging or difficult circumstances. I was nourished. I have felt parched and hardened and unsure of so many things. But He is sure and true and unchanging. "Christ shield me today..."

Math- Singapore and LoF, flash cards, minute drill
History - From Sea to Shining SEa. The book has been nice, with beautiful pictures and terrific maps. But it has really rocked as a curriculum because of the workbook that my irl friend, Ana, wrote. The workbook pulls out information from the text and solidifies. Perfect for grammarians. American Lit for Feeche. We started SOTW Activity book IV this week.  The note taking is going to be challenging for Flower but we found our 1 x3 white boards in the attic, which will help. We are looking forward to some fun projects together! VP flashcards
Writing: WWE,  ETC 8, Writing Tales and IEW's American Lit..
Science: Chemistry, Anatomy for Cub.
Misc: Shakespeare for Feeche and poetry for everybody. Weekly co-op includes art, choral and unit-study.
The 2nd meeting of NAP was held Thursday afternoon. Feeche and Flower baked flourless p.b. cookies and brewed tea. Feeche read 2 poems he'd written and recited one. Flower and Cub recited a couple each, including this week's poem, "The Psalm of Life" by Longfellow.

We received our copies of Above Rubies #81today. In it is an article I wrote about being able to afford a large family. I showed Flower the picture of us. She exclaimed, "Hey! How did we get in here!" The boys both grabbed a copy and sat down to read it and had positive comments. Very sweet!
Japan. Oy vey.

The weather has been delightful and we have been out in it! We saw an adult beaver and a beaver kit on the river bank this week and Feeche spotted them again today. 60 degees is a heat wave, especially as it was 18 degrees last Sunday and the Feeche is taking full advantadge by going barefoot! The river that borders our property is so full it's bursting at the seams, flooding our southern pasture. On Wednesday there were huge ice chunks, 2 feet thick, 6 feet across, blocked by the bridge. By Thursday the ice was gone and the water deep. The kids walked, rode bikes and came in flushed with fresh air,  their pants soaked and full of  mud and the promise of spring clinging to their boots.

It's week 4 of NO COFFEE and still every afternoon I hit a slump where I am so unreasonably tired I am literally falling asleep sitting up. Can caffeine medically support my thyroid script? Does the sacrifice count if you've slept through it?

What are you reading? Writing? Sacrificing? Praying? Meditating on?

Join the conversation by linking up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. or at Conversion Dairies

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Prayer

I took a class on Prayer in seminary a few years ago. The strength of the class was being exposed to scores of beautiful prayers. My very favorite was the Prayer of St. Patrick. In honor of his feast day. Enjoy!

The Prayer of St. Patrick

I arise today
Through the strength of heaven;
Light of the sun,
Splendor of fire,
Speed of lightning,
Swiftness of the wind,
Depth of the sea,
Stability of the earth,
Firmness of the rock.
I arise today

Through God's strength to pilot me;
God's might to uphold me,
God's wisdom to guide me,
God's eye to look before me,
God's ear to hear me,
God's word to speak for me,
God's hand to guard me,
God's way to lie before me,
God's shield to protect me,
God's hosts to save me
Afar and anear,
Alone or in a multitude.
Christ shield me today
Against wounding

Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me,
Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ on my right, Christ on my left,
Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down,
Christ in the heart of everyone who thinks of me,
Christ in the mouth of everyone who speaks of me,
Christ in the eye that sees me,
Christ in the ear that hears me.
I arise today
Through the mighty strength
Of the Lord of creation

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Hand that Rocks the Cradle (and writes the letter)

Feeche was researching the Jazz era for his report on the Great Gatsby and came across the following article.  My son, dear boy, said, "I'll bet Rep Burns was homeschooled."

In May, 1919, the necessary two-thirds vote in favor of the women suffrage amendment was finally mustered in Congress, and the proposed amendment was sent to the states for ratification.  By July 1920, with a number of primarily southern states adamantly opposed to the amendment, it all came down to Tennessee.  It appeared that the amendment might fail by one vote in the Tennessee house, but twenty-four-year-old Harry Burns surprised observers by casting the deciding vote for ratification At the time of his vote, Burns had in his pocket a letter he had received from his mother urging him, "Don't forget to be a good boy" and "vote for suffrage."  Women had finally won the vote.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Up Do's

A European twist.

A Bumpette on a European Twist

 Cutie Patootie with an UpDo.

KB started a year long program at Stewart's School of Cosmetology a week and a 1/2 ago. Shw comes home with lots of fun stuff to share. Flower is a willing victim client.
KB's taking a 10 week hold with the college on-line school while she completes the academic portion of the cosmetology program and then going back to finish a B.A. Miss. R completed Doula training as well. Just seems like it makes sense to get pragmatic vocational training, along with academic, especially in today's economy.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Beware the Packaging!

From my friend, Vikke...

    Say you've been saving up to buy makeup, face scrub, and so on, to look good for your oldest daughter's wedding. You buy Neutrogena Mineral Sheers at Big Lots for $2.99.  Ooooh: good price, good brand, good color.
    Then, you can't figure out how to open it.  It looks as though you'd be able to open the brush at one end of the rectangular compact, open the powder at the other end, dip one into the other, voila.     
    The brush end opens nicely (assuming you can get the aeronautics-grade plastic wrapping off the compact).  But it's going to take a civil engineer to figure out how to get to the powder end.  The powder end does not open.  Do I just shake the whole thing, and the powder falls through to the brush and is applied to my face?
    If I keep poking at it, the compact is going to break and there will be powder everywhere---none of it, incidentally, on my face, which is where I bought the powder to be; and all of it wasted.
    Oh yeah, the internet---answer to all society's problems.  Google "how to open neutrogena mineral sheers".
    The first link is entitled "How do I get this $*% thing open?!?"
    I am not the only person having trouble with this.  I feel better already!
    I'd already decided to do what one of the reviewers suggests: break down the whole thing, put the powder in an empty container, toss the brush (which is a bit rough) and go on from there.  Case solved.
    Beware Neutrogena packaging.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Cascading Blossoms Coming Soon!

I am planning my garden and so far it includes Vegetables, beets, potatoes, onions, squash (butternut, acorn, pumpkin), green beans, tomatoes (cherry, plum and big boy), cabbage, zukes, cukes (pickling and french), eggplant, carrots, peppers (green, jalapeno), sweet corn.

Herbs: basil, parsley, cilantro, dill, oregano, sage, rosemary, thyme and lemon verbena. We''ll have chamomile and cat mint and hopefully apple and chocolate mint volunteer.

I also plan to add berry bushes: raspberry (to replace those lost to our new drain field last year) blackberry and blueberry (I found some cold climate blues-ohlala). Have I mentioned before that my Great  Uncle Lester owned a U-Pick blueberry farm in Northern Indiana? Happy, happy memories!

We have Fruit lying dormant, mulberries, rhubarb, grapes and a huge strawberry bed. The geese were flocking and honking and swishing and swirling today. A beautiful sight and the welcome sounds of spring!

And of course flowers. We'll have lilacs, white and purple and peonies,deep red, light pink and white, daisies and sedum (4 kinds), and iris and lilies, hostas (6 varieties) and of course, the new bridal wreath spireas that we planted last fall, and flax and more I won't remember till it comes up. Sigh, I can not wait. (have I mentioned that before?

I will sing for joy in God,
   explode in praise from deep in my soul!
He dressed me up in a suit of salvation,
   he outfitted me in a robe of righteousness,
As a bridegroom who puts on a tuxedo
   and a bride a jeweled tiara.
For as the earth bursts with spring wildflowers,
   and as a garden cascades with blossoms,
So the Master, God, brings righteousness into full bloom
   and puts praise on display before the nations.
Isaiah 62:10-11

What are you planning? What are you waiting for? 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Saturday Special

I'm the Saturday Special gal over at The Homeschool Village! Stop on by and check out my "how to's" along with other inspiring articles. HSV has a vision for community- come join the fun!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Big Ideas

My big idea of the week: Poetry Recitaion on Thursday afternoons with tea and scones (this week we settled for p.b. cookies and grapefruit). We've studied and memorized poetry for a couple of years using  The Grammar of Poetry, IEW and other resources. This year  Feeche is taking a class using Immortal Poems of the English Language and the notsolittels are on Section 3  IEW's Language Acquisition Through Poetry Memorization. Our first week found us setting the terms and reading/reciting poems already committed to memory.
  • Participants have to share 3 poems each week.
  • At least one poems has to memorized.
  • Poems, once shared can't be repeated
Feeche read a couple of very funny poems from his book and then the kids creatively embellished what they heard, imagine that!? Kind of like narration with dramatic flair. A good time was had by all at the premier meeting of the NAP society (our last name+association+poets).

White bean chili: beans made from dry, and fresh cilantro peppered over top. Just the right amount of zing.
Spaghetti with homemade sauce, of course, chock full of green peppers, mushrooms, onions and parsley and oregano.
Sloppy joes with molasses instead of sugar- delish
Fajitas- more fresh cilantro. Can you ever have too much?
Gardening season is comin' soon and baby, I'll be picking it fresh, cilantro, basil and parsley. Have I mentioned I.can.not.wait?
Drill and skill: + and x flash cards, grammar terms, poetry, Veritas Press History cards, 1815- present. I told you I'd get back to memory work before the year was over!
Singapore, 1 Minute Math and Life of Fred. My blogger buddy Karen, over at The Magic School House, is forever inspiring me to ramp it up in the math and science departments.
Going over Feehce's work each Wed a.m. (Tues is our academic class day) and helping him organize assignments and deadlines. He finished The Great Gatsby and is now writing papers, reading lots and taking long, long walks.

SNOW- the weather has been LOVELY. 30's with snow- perfect almost spring weather. Cub and Flower have been making good use of the mighty drifts in the backyard to sled like wild things.

A beautiful pink rose. Thank-you Janel.! It graced our table all week and brought us JOY! And a sweet and uplifting card from my friend Myrna. I was seriously wondering about time I've spent in an area. You know, that ugly habit of comparing?  Her words kept me focused on the vision. Thank-you, dear friend!!
*6*My knee is better. I'm not jumping or running or hopping or skipping but I'm not using a walker or downing ibuprofen like it was my new best friend either. Thank-you for praying for me!

I am creating a Summer Scavenger Hunt for my 3 younger kids that makes a game of the work. One thought was a Wizard of Oz theme with things to "find" in the 4 areas: courage, heart, brain and home. My plan is to have at least 100 items on the list - some of which can take just minutes, others several days. At the end of the summer, have some kind of final hunt with a  Big Event attached. Thoughts? Ideas?

In related news I finished The  Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother and The Help. Both provoking and worth reading.
You can also link up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. or at Conversion Dairies

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Tiger Mother Thoughts Cont.

I've been thinking more about The Battle Hymn book and had a couple more thoughts.
Chua does try to raise her kids consistantly with some of the ingredients recommended by McCurdy to raise genius' and leaders:

(1) children should spend a great deal of time with loving, educationally minded parents;
(2) children should be allowed a lot of free exploration; and
(3) children should have little to no association with peers outside of family and relatives.
~ H. McCurdy, "The Childhood Pattern of Genius."
Chua does part of #1. Her kids spend a great deal of time with her. She is clearly educationally minded. The loving part? Maybe not so much, behaviorally, loving seems very hit or miss.
Chua allows her kids little, if any of #2
Chua ensures #3.
Chua's kids are prodigy's musically and perhaps linguistically.

Chua, and according to her, Chinese parents "get" the point of Outliers, which is this: it takes around 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. She is determined that her children become experts at a young age, which they do. Not only that, but they understand hard work, self discipline, focus, determination and how to study.

While Chua's book irritated me (see earlier post) it did revitalizemy own commitment to drill and skill, expecting more from myself and my children. Chua drives the point home that she is actively and intentionally involved in her children's lives and this I think a lot of folks could improve on. Many parents send their kids to school, send them to after school activities, send them to friend's houses and provide lots of gadgets and electronic toys to fill the remainder of the day.  They don't spend time with their kids and they are not intentional about what their kids are doing or learning.

While Chua's lifestyle demands an exhorbitant amount of money and resources, I believe that her underlying point of being a focused parent with clearly defined expectations, dreams and visions for our kids is worthy. Very much so.\\

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Help

The Help by Kathryn Stockett
A friend of mine in college, who had grown up wealthy in the south, would recount stories of coming home in the afternoon and doing drugs in the living room with friends. Their black maid would simply dust around them. I'm a yank born and bred and I just thought that was bizarre on a number of levels. The Help rounds it all out. The characters are fully developed and the realities of the post Rosa Parks civil rights struggle clearly explored. It's a compelling story and would a make a great addition to any study on the Civil Rights movement.
One of my favorite lines from the book, "if chocolate was a sound, it would've been Constantine's voice singing. If singing was a color, it would've been the color of that chocolate." Stockett is descriptive, that much is certain.And the topic intriguing. A great look into a sub-culture that, with the exception of break-out books like this, keeps it's code of silence even now.

I've been intrigued since the last presidential election why blacks voted for Obama regardless of their own personal political views. In other words, blacks voted for a black candidate, based solely on race. Even when they didn't believe that he would represent their political views. This book sheds some light on the resentment and pain between the races in our country. The fact that Stockett is being sued, by her brother's domestic help, is a bizarre twist. In her attempt to "out" the tyrants, Stockett, knowingly or not, sides complicity with the tyrants.

The Battle Hymn...

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by  Amy Chua.
Okeydokey. There is so much that is so obviously wrong with this book and the authors parenting and relational abilities that I'm going to try, for the most part, to stay away from just blasting Chua and focus on the good in this book.
Chua is an obsessively driven American, Asian by descent. The point of the book is that parents in the "west" are lousy. I've seen some pretty mediocre and lousy parenting in my time so I can agree, with stipulations, to that point. (Though I wouldn't limit it to the West. I just know that there are lousy parents world wide). Chua, in  contrast,  puts forth a vision of focused intentionality. I am all about that. Chua's methods, however, are abusive and ungodly.

 This is a woman, whom I am sure, does not clean her own toilets or do other mundane tasks. Her time is consumed with her career and her children. Creating children that are performance focused and driven. And her kids have achieved "great things" in the sight of the world. Chua believes that her ugly, bigoted views are justified because of the "success" they produce. I come from a pov where the ends don't justify the means. And that is one of my big criticisms of Chua. Her methods are mean spirited. The vision not shared by her children, though they appreciate some of the results. In addition her children are being taught that the world revolves around them. There is never a word about service or self reflection. It is all about success driven performance. But that is what happens when there is not internality. Life becomes solely and simply about making money, making impressions, making the grade, making the cut. And when the cut is not made? Chua herself admits," When Chinese parenting succeeds, there's nothing like it. But it doesn't always succeed."

The last chapter of the book is an editing nightmare. An admission, of sorts, that Chua didn't "succeed." Her youngest daughter had the will and the strength to put an end to her mother's obsessive drive to "succeed." That leaves Chua searching for focus, both in her home, and in her book and the reader is left with, "What a western parent I've become, I thought to myself. What a failure." And whatever beneficial point she might have made, pointing out the benefits of intentionality and vision for one's children, are lost with the condemnation of her birthplace.

Later on in the same chapter, Chua  makes the point, "that just because you love something doesn't mean you'll be great at it. Not if you don't work. Most people stink at the things they love." Despite the bitterness, I agree with her point. Giving our kids the gift of work is a treasure. And just because beliefs or activities are popular doesn't mean that we need to participate. She is putting forth an idea that raising our kids counter culturally to the average child rearing techniques will produce prodigious results. I can get on board with that. It is, after all, what we are doing. The glaring difference between Chua's home and ours is the difference between ancestral worship (disguised as success) and worship of the Master of the Universe. And that simple difference leads us down a path that is radically different than one Chua has chosen.

All that being said, Chua's book was a great reminder that our kids can do more than we think. That the fruits of incredibly hard work can be sweet indeed. That many parents fritter away their children's childhoods with frivolous and damaging situations. That being intentional as a parent, with a clear vision for one's progeny, is a gift that we can give them that will last beyond whatever particular skill they've learned.

P.S. There are lots of glaring, broad, prejudicial brush stokes that Chua uses to paint her idealized picture of cultural differences but I wanted to share the absolute, lol best one.  "I felt that Florence ( her mil) was generating sibling rivalry by looking for it. There are all kinds of psychological disorders in the West that don't exist in Asia."
 HAHAHAha. Um, yeah. The one-child policy kinda makes even the thought of sibling rivalry a moot point. Let's focus for a minute on the army of narcissists that that policy is breeding, shall we?