Friday, August 31, 2012

Last Week of Summer

Lego League featured prominantly in the week- 3 meetings, including the mission kick-off, a field trip to the hospital and our regular meeting. Plus driving. Good stuff. I'm learning a lot- hope the kids are too ; )
Hospital field trip included getting to sit in the cock-pit of the rescue helicopter and talking to the pilot. Very, very cool. Also looking at x-rays of gross things people had swallowed, including a 2" fish-hook. Not so very cool.

Doors featured prominantly in our week. Not the singing kind. We are at the polyurethaning stage. And the brass polishing, whatRwegoing2dowiththehardware stage. If it IS brass and it polishes up nicely, then we'll polish. Otherwise it's spray paint time.

Feeche finished Alg II just in time for School to start and Trig to kick in. He'll be gone 2 weeks in October to Challenge and is strongly considering paging at the Capital in Jan (another 2 weeks). This year is going to be fast and furious.

Family Camp at a Retreat Center this week-end! Cabins have kitchens, large bathrooms with running water and air-conditioning, plus enough beds for everybody!! Plus cool people, a swiming pool and a lake. Super duper cool.

I hate buying tickets on-line. I just know that I've missed the better price somewhere, it's out there taunting me, but I'll never find it. Trying to buy tickets on line is like there's a better price purgatory. The good news is that Feeche found his own ticket and found a GREAT price. The bad news is the internet was down (hence the delay in posting this) and we couldn't buy it. The hopeful news is that the good price will still be around on Monday (crossing fingers).

The garden puttered and sputtered all summer. We are still having temps in the high 90's!! Which was notaso good for lots of stuff but good for the tomatoes. I've been drying them- mmm!

Tutoring Center, and school, starts officially on Tuesday for us. We have the bulk of the books, a plan, plenty of lined and unlined paper, ink in the computer printer and books on order from InterLibraryLoan. The only thing not totally ready is me. Does summer really have to end?

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Spraying and Staining.

We have been painting and staining fools around here.
We've spray painted an ugly blong dresser, aquired cheaply at a garage sale, a metal desk that went from black to cream colored, a mirror frame, from ugly goldish grey to brushed nickel- it looks fab!  and an old schoolhouse chair that I am modge-podging - fun, fun, fun!
In addition to that KB has stained the 6 doors that go to the 2nd floor. We've done a fair bit of sanding to go with the staining, but the good news is they are almost done - finally. Those doors have been one of the never ending projects in this little house re-build. Then stripping the old finish off the hardware and spray painting those.

Meanwhile, Feeche is building a brick path that extends from the front brick path to the west side of the house. It looks so incredibly awesome! Can't wait till it's done!
(I'd post pictures but the camera's batteries died for good)

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Happy Brirthday, Rocking Girl!

A picture's worth a thousand words and
KB is beautiful inside and out.
She has always been our shy child, but don't let that fool you; she is also incrediblly strong-willed. She reads deep theological and philosophical reads for fun, is an artist on so many levels and has a killer sense of humor.

Did I mention she was hard-headed? Good thing because she's been knocked around a bit with the scars to prove it.

She is passionate about so many things, pure in heart and deeply committed to living out her faith in a way that is vibrant and true.
She is willing to do hard things, even when it hurts.
She is compassionate and tender and strong.

She rocks.
Happy Birthday, KB!
I love you!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

And the Winner Is...

the Crystal Creek Media Give-Away!
emial me your snail mail addy and you will soon be the proud owner of Film School Directing and Creed of Gold!
Thanks to everyone who participated!!

Friday, August 24, 2012

End of Summer Projects

I turned 50 this week. Egads, I am half a century old. I have heard it said that the 40's are the old age of youth and the 50's are the youth of old age. A new season. Bring it on.
Presents from near and far included gift cards, cake, balloons, salutations, cool jewlery, a scarf and lovely cards. (I'm buying Ticket to Ride tomorrow- it's been on my wish list for awhile, thanks to Ana).
It's good to be loved.

We hauled brick from a 1920's building tear-down in our small Territories town about 8 years ago. Dr. Dh built our front side-walk out of it, and we are finally getting to the side yard walk-way with it. Feeche  started on it and we ended up pulling it all up and starting again. This time with stakes, string and rulers in hand or on belt loops, and Dad around to show how it's done. In the process we are covering over yet another old cistern (the property is rife with them) that is an ugly bare patch in the yard.

The girls got in on playing in the dirt and KB and Flower moved poenies from where the front fence was to another border area. We're gonna solarize the ground and put current bushes in; more edible landscaping.
Not only that but Feeche sanded doors while KB stained them. We think the old door knobs and fixtures are brass so we'll be cleaning them up and seeing how they look.

Got the play table and chairs finished. Love it. Really truly.

Key holder up and holding keys- 4 drivers, 2 cars and not enough keys.
One old rake, cleaned and spray painted and mounted on the wall.
Thanks for the brilliant idea, Mae!

Worked on kids schedule for fall. It's going to be full and busy. Started getting books in the mail from my big Amazon purchasing spree on Monday. I just need to get co-op and TC classes squared away; figure drawing and WWS I.

Lord Peter : The Complete Lord Peter Wimsey Stories
I finished Lord Peter this week. Almost 500 pages of short stories about Lord Peter by Dorothy Sayers. Not as rich as the novels and not all murder mysteries. Still, DLS imitible style shines, her word-smithing is inspiring, and Tall Boys gives us a glimpse of Peter as "Dad." It's been a great 9 months delving into the Wimsey Vane stories and getting to know DLS through them. It's been a lovely peek into one of the great minds of the last century.


A terrible accident happend on the hill above our valley. Not 1, but 2 helicopters came to the rescue. Our family has  been the grateful recipient of a medi-vac trip, when KB was rushed to the hosptial with a skull fracture that left her brain exposed.

Thanking God for first responders and a sober reminder to slow down on country roads.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mother West Wind Table and Chairs Reveal

I wrote a whole post dedicated to Mother West Wind after our house fire. That Christmas, KB gave me a frame, filled with the soft leaf-like covers and pictures of my Mom and Gram. I cried. More tears in a year of tears. It was very sweet but the frame didn't show off the book covers very well. I decided to combine our water damaged kiddie table with our water/fire damaged book covers.

This is our kiddie play table that we've had since Miss R. was 5, a Christmas gift from Grandpa and Grandpa N! You can see the origianl brown legs. The top was water damaged from the fire. We sanded it and put sealant on it. Then we spray-painted it black. Spray paint is my new fav craft item ; )

I'd made color copies of the book jackets. They were pretty beat up, with water marks, burn marks and age- some of them are almost 80 years old!  I tried to capture as much character in the copies as I could. I came up with a patten and started decoupaging. Oh what fun! I've never really gotten over my love of cutting, coloring and pasting!
I'm on the hunt for more to decoupage!

Here's a close-up of the copies. Love the "60 cents"in pencil on the sleeve.

And here it is. LOVE, love, love it!

And chairs to go with.

The Demands of Education.

Truth And Lies Word Collage
I was part of an on-line discussion recently about  Classical Education, Beauty, Truth and STEM focus. Basically it was a big long discussion about how people homeschool rigorously, prepare for the real world, live in the real world and insure outcome (i.e. kids who can join in the Great Conversation (i.e. classically educated) and are still vocational competitive in a global market.
The idea of this discussion alone is enough to make even the most stalwart educator turn and run screaming, private, public, home or otherwise.

Seriously. There are just 24 hours in a day. We stuggle to balance academics with hands on activities, focus heavily on literature and the "Great Conversation," instilling a sense of wonder and awe about the most amazing scientific stuff, and still have time to revel in the Truth and Beauty of God and all that He has done.

It's been a 2 decade + balancing act. Some years/kids/seasons we've done better than others. Which is how we landed on a classical pedagogy. It's fits best. Even with that, it's a difficult balancing act; WE weren't classically educated. We live in a world that tests for lots of stuff we don't focus on and little that we do. Ds 17 can talk intelligently for 2 hours straight, without notes, about the Punic War (along with many other topics) but still struggles with spelling. Any guess about how that tranlates on the Iowa Basic?

I have lofty goals. I know how to be rigorous. I get unschooling. I love the idea of autodidactism.  I love the idea of raising renaissance men and women.

Reality: our house burned, 1/2 my family died, my gram is going a little nuts, we are re-building a house, our older kids are struggling to make their way as adults, our cars die and demand beaucoups $ over and over again... if it wasn't all of the above it would be something else. And I'm sure your reality has a host of challenges sitting, like a big white elephant, in the middle of your life as well.

IRL: I look at my older kids and can tell you, in living color, all of the many ways we've failed them. I look at the family we've sacrificed to create and wonder (on bad days) about just how crazy we were to have more than 1.6 kids, one income, advanced education, a vocation instead of a job with security. Catch me on a bad day and I will talk you out of homeschooling, home-making and living by faith. I will lead you, by the hand, to a secular, 2 income, 1.6 kid life that is safe, secure, and has lots of perks, including vactions, health and dental and a 401K.

Irl: We have wanted more for our homeschooling than we've been able to afford.
Irl: homeschooling is expensive, financially, socially, emotionally
Irl: It's a lonely road

The reality is that we don't get it perfect. We've failed. We've let things slide. We didn't call some things right. And we are still homeschooling.

The reason is that homeschooling, for us, stems (pun intended) from our belief that we are called to train up our kids in the way they should go. We call it wrong, they have their own ideas, there are no assured outcomes. That's one of the things that drives me nuts about a certain branch of homeschoolers. They advocated doing "A" and make statments to the fact that it will insure "B".

Irl: We know families who have tried to live up to that ideal and it has broken them, ruined their families and alienated their kids.
Irl: kids don't cooperate, are willful and have a zillion other voices screaming at them for attention and approval, including the enemy of their souls, who is cunning, decietful and determined.
Irl: Parents struggle and can't be all that their kids want or need. There is little grace in the world for families that sacriifice to do anything out of the ordinary.

So, education. One of the biggest concerns of most parents with kids. There are no easy answers. Homeschooling is one. It's a good one. It's made better by a methodology that delivers on what it promises, (like Classical, but also like the Government Schools -honestly, that have, until recently, delivered on their promises- we just don't happen to agree with their secular starting point). It's made better by parents who understand the limits of homeshcooling and are  realistic about those limits. It's made better by folks who don't hold homeschooling out as a panacea to all of the world's ills. It's made better by folks who actually educated their kids at home.

Truth, Beauty, Goodness, STEM focus, the Great Conversation? We address these various points, through various methods. Our goal is not to be perfect at any of them. Our goal is to understand our children, their unique personalities and focus on training them, body, mind and soul, to embrace LIFE and the truth and beauty it promises.


Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Trivium Studies 2012-13

Why Classical?
(Here's a great overview if you are just getting started, and it's also where I got the great graphic)
It fits children's learning ages and stages
it fits the neuro-psych research (Dr. Dh loves a good research study, and has done his fair share of neuropsych study- he'd know)
It goes broad AND deep
It trains the brain to retain - in other words, it teaches the brain how to learn.
At the end of the day, the kids know what they know, they know what they don't know and they know how to go about aquiring information that they want. This is not true of every educational methodology.

That being said, what are we doing this year that follows the Trivium, especially as we have one student in each stage of the Trivium?

Grammar Stage: Flower- continued poetry memorization. Nature study and scientific inquiry- MP's Bird Study, continued NASA and NOAA exploration with Dad, exposure to language, including Latin and German (MP and RS). Strong history component (as always).

Dialectic Stage: Cub- continued memory work- Horatius at the Bridge. Logic studies- Critical Thinking I and II, Fallacy Detective, Red Herrings. We'll start Traditional Logic next year and do Intro and Intermed. Cub's 9th grade year. Scientific inquiry with pre-physics, math with text, perplexors and Singapore Story Problems. First and 2nd Form Latin, and a  strong history component.

Rhetoric Stage: Feeche- he'll continue academic studies in Math, Science, History, Lit and participate in Poetry Outloud, a national recitation competition, along with Shakespeare and Drama performances. Continued Latin studies, in addition to German, with a strong history component.

Are you following the Trivium this year? How are you implementing it specifically?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 Cutie Patootie Pictures

It's Student Photo Day over at theNot Back to School Blog Hop. I don't mind sharing pics of what could be the cutest students in the Territorites. Not that I'm biased or anything...

Flower- rising 4th Grader.

Cub- rising 7th Grader

Feeche- rising Senior- WOOT!

Our graduates to date:
Cosmetologist KB- off to university this fall...

College Grad Miss. R and Officer Fife, living in KY
Hop on over and join the fun!
Not Back to School Blog Hop

Happy 18th Birthday!

Today is our oldest son's birthday. He is 18. His birth took place in a military training hospital. I wouldn't recommend it, though we both made it out alive.
He is the third child and first male. My theory was always that he would either love girls, or hate them.

As you can see from the photo below, I think he is veering towards the former.

My blog name for him is "Feeche" taken from the Wilderking series. The Feeche's are tree hugger- literally. They climb along the tree tops and are so brown and green that they are considered a different species. If you could witness this man-child's feet in the summer, you would understand how apropoe this name is.

Feeche is funny, gentle, kind, Godly, peace-loving, disciplined, intelligent, has a killer sense of strategy and loves literature- both reading and writing it! Everyone has always said how much he looks like his Dad, until they meet his Grandpa. But someone actually told me this summer that they could see how much he looked like me. He definitly got his eyebrows from my side of the family- along with his great comedic timing!

I have loved raising this boy, watching him grow in to the Man of God he is becoming. And I can't wait to see what God has in store for him in the years to come.
Happy Birthday, Dear Son!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Homeschool STEM Studies

STEM studies at home can be daunting for several reason.
Our solution?
Two words.
 Lego League (good it is).

Meetings have started, brainstorming has commenced, goals have been set and Legos unpacked.
It's gonna be a GREAT year.
The competition has 4 areas:
Programming (robotics)
Technical Briefing

Mrs. Imp (engineer- how cool is that?) dividing the group into 2 teams; one to build, one to do teamwork exercises. See the white-board covered with notes in the background? That's our hour of brainstorming, presentation and team-work activities, including getting the concpets Gracious Professionalism and Co-opertition (both TM's by LL)
Teamwork. One communicator, one listener, 2 sets of legos that are exactly the same. The communicator describes what he's building to the listener and at the end of the alloted time they compare what they've built.

Legos unpacked, sorted and ready to build with!

Checking mission directives.

Blond, lego-loving buddies.

Gorgeous girlies- working on team building- NO peeking!!

Working hard at following directions.

For more info about Lego League, go to FIRST LEGO League.
STEM learning, at its finest!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Summer Love

Our Monday horse/lit study is ovah. It was a blast. 9 girls, 4 Marguerite Henry books, maps, drawing, horse stuff, lunch, swimming.

The girls made notebooks: sections for geography, breeds, horse info, tack, drawing, etc.

Feeche is almost done with Alg. II, everyone's been reading like mad. Redwall, et al, with a few of my picks thrown in for good measure and brain development ; ).


I finally finished Dorothy L. Sayers: The Centenary Collection. Several lovely essays by lit nerds about one of the finest. Topics ranged from Lord Peter, DLS's unique life and education, her family, women's issues, DLS's lit clubs, mystery writing and Dante.
A great mind, though a unique personality (hey, I can relate to at least 1/2 of that!) and a devoted follower of Christ.

Front Cover

Currently reading Lord Peter: a collection of short stories and enjoying them. My dear friend Shari has recommened Kierkegaard's book Provocations. Time to dust off the library card, (and my brain) again.

The 4 Best Days of Summer. Yeah, Baby.


The kids hauled all of the homeschool curriculum downstairs and we off-loaded the living bookshelves and library cart, too. I then made bins for each of the kids with this years curriculum in it, made a bin of stuff we are doing together, made one bin of stuff we are saving and put the rest in bins to sell/give-away. We can now put the cubbies in bedrooms, and use the library cart for library books.

School room pics? Here's my grand plan from last year. Reality is, our closests still house trim not clothes and we've been too busy to build more bookshelves. Reality:  school is allovahthehouse.

We got the big screen up in the living room, and Dr. Dh added speakers. We've been having fun watching old favs on the big screen and noticing details we've missed. Fiddler on the Roof was the pic of the week. My sisters and I memorized the entire script in 4th grade via record, which we played over and over and over. The kids were totally making fun of my operatic sing-along as the moving played.


Of course my fav scene is the grave-yard dream. Totally creeped me out as a child, but the singing- Oy vey. Love it!

It was slim garden pickings this year with the drought. We planted more potatoes than we dug. And everything is ready now-- which makes me a bit nervous about how early winter will come. We've heard from lots of farmers that its' going to be an early and hard winter. The river is dried up in many places and our neighbor said that since he's been farming here in '78, it's the worst year he's every seen.
That being said, we have a decent crop of tomaotes, broccoli, eggplant, pesto and peppers- eggplant parmigan has been delish and we are drying tomatoes.
Ready for fall? I have details to sort- like how to fit everything in and how the co-op classes are going to flow. We still have a couple of house projects I want to get done before the pace of fall starts in.
We have a winner for the Element 83 Give-away!

What are your end-of-summer plans?

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Element 83 Winner!

Amber, you won!! Woot! I know you will LOVE the pendant and cedar box you'll be getting in the mail soon.
 I need your addy, and it's on it's way!!

FREE SHIPPING,  Large Cedar Box for your Crystal Jewelry

Check out the Crystal Creek Media Give-away going on NOW!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

4 Best Days of Summer

Our county hosts the longest running fair in the Terriritories and bills itself as "The Best 4 Days of Summer." It is very fun. It is 4 days during the week, has no entrance fee and has all the usual stuff; animal barns, 4-H exhibits, rides, politicians campaigning and fair food. We attend yearly with the usual suspects, though this year it was a little thi- we missed you, Lori!! Fun was to be had, nevertheless...

Some rides never get old.

This is what happens when you ask pre-teen males to "smile."


Cyndi couldn't resist! And  I didn't get one.single.picture of the older kids. Bah. Next year at the Fair.

Monday, August 13, 2012

I Won!

One of the things I love about blogging is meeting new friends around the globe and finding out about new opportunities and products.I followed a blog link-up at Living and Learning  and signed up for a give-away while I was there! And I won! WOOT! I love winning (when you're raised by 2 Type "A's" you just do). What did I win, you ask? A year's subscription to HEV. It's new to me, too. It's an on-line resource; 300 videos and counting, that take the student through a learning process, and then suggests a project to do in conjunction with. My fav ed combo: theory and practice! As they state on their web-site:
"Short videos, important principals, with off-screen, brains invovled, hands on follow up."
Love that!

Do me a favor and go say "Hi" to Amy at Living and Learning (she has a great classical ed link-up, too!) and go check out HEV!!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Wind Down/Gear Up

Life of Fred Advanced Algebra
 Math tutoring continues and the time lost during the fire year is almost redeemed.  It’s a sweet deal. Our engineering friend, Sarah, tutors Derek and I “pay” her by bringing her 2 boys home for the afternoon to play. How great is that? They are Lego/Transformer/water/nerf-gun loving kids. Basically, we hit the drive-way and I don’t see the boys till Sarah comes to get them (and she comes to get them!). It’s such a WIN for me; I’m practically giddy about it.
Speaking of Math, we are going to switch programs again (based on Sarah’s recommendation) from LoF. I need upper level math suggestions: Not Saxon, preferably under $50, Trig.
Don’t forget to sign up for the Bismuth Pendant HERE; Film Camp and Creed of Gold DVD HERE. And check out some of my recent articles on homeschooling; Basic Recipe for Homeschool Success, Homeschooling Myth Busters, Co-op Love,  and finally Curriculum Planning for 2012-13.
Front Cover
I finally finished Dorothy L. Sayers: The Centenary Celebration; a compilation of essays by literary greats about one of the greatest; DLS.  The fact that 15 different authors can talk for pages about so many unique and varied things about one person’s writing speaks to what a brilliant author they were.
The Divine Comedy
I’ve been going back and forth on whether Feeche should do a semester study of Dante (using MP) and after reading the above mentioned book (DLS's final work was to translate Dante), we’re going to do it.

Lego League is under-way and the kids are gathering research and have voted on a T-shirt. This year's challenge is "Senior Solutions." If you know a Senior and they have a problem to be solved, lmk. Also, if you are in the area, stop by Pizza Ranch on 41rst on Monday nite! Our team will be busing tables in return for a percentage of the profits!
Come out and support future STEM nerds : )!
Speaking  of which, major kudos to JPL and team for the landing of Curiosity! WOOT!
Loved watching this!
I take full ownership for literaray nerdom. STEM nerd love comes directly from Dr. Dh. He has infused all of us with a love of scientific inquiry. You know you're in deep when the 9 yo sits down to check NOAA in the morning and actually runs the loops.*6*
Cub and Flower have been deep in to Redwall. Of the 22 novels, he’s read over ½. Feeche is now reading on e to Flower (fun for both) and they have discovered the cartoon series on-line. Good summer fluff.
Horse Camp has been a blast. 9 girls, 2 ½ hours a week, a book/2 weeks (M. Henry selection), creating notebooks together, throw in lunch and swimming, a simple craft. School lite. Lots of fun!