Wednesday, February 27, 2013

This Year's Chocolate

The table was set before I realized that the Brussels Sprouts had made it into the bowl with "Chocolate" on the side.

Abraham's Journey- TOS Review

The kids and I recently read Abraham’s Journey: A Celebration of the American Dream . I read it out loud to Flower (10), Cub (13) and Feeche (18). While the age range for this book is elementary school I wanted Feeche's input. I had read it previously and needed some objective feed-back. The point of the book is to encourage kids to overcome adversity and reach for their goals, achieving their financial desires and having enough left over to give to others. This point is made by Abraham's  journey through cyber-space, where he meets the following historical figures:
  • Abraham Lincoln
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Norman Rockwell
  • Amelia Earhart
  • Mark Zuckerberg
  • Bill and Melinda Gates 
  • The back of the book includes a definition of terms such as charity, courage, self-reliance and social media as well as character biographies.

    While this book is colorful and well done as far as lay-out and graphics I had problems with the content. Abraham finds a solution to his families financial woes through a magical mystery tour through cyber-space. He meets an assortment of people that are un-related and non-sequential, ending with 2 of the richest men in the world. Abraham can somehow paint so well that his painting are purchased, again, magically, and he now has money for presents, not only for his family, but for those less fortunate at the homeless shelter.

    This book was confusing to me on a number of different levels:
    1- The Great Recession- introduced on page one- I  haven't heard this term enough to just "know" that it was referring to 2009. I actually had to look this up.
    1- If the parents have lost their jobs, why does a child have a smart phone?
    3- Why did the authors chose the historical figures that they did and why did they go back and forth across time?
    4- The author introduces the reader to people that are dead and alive. All of them contribute to Abraham earning actual money. (more magical thinking)- is Abraham IN the computer or not? Are the people dead or alive? If this book is targeted for elementary students, those who are still in a concrete operations, are they to understand that dead people that they never knew can positively (personally) affect their lives? Is the reader supposed to believe that cyber-space is just as real (or a "new/different" real) as physical reality?
    5- Abraham paints well enough, with no previous background (at least none known to the reader) to capture both Normal Rockwell and Bill Gate's attention. There was no talk of the hard work that goes in to gaining viable job skills.

    While I was excited to be getting this book and share it with my kids, given the description, I was disappointed with its actual content.

    The book is available on the Inspiring the American Dream site for $14.99.

    Read what other Schoolhouse review crew members thought of the book here or click on the picture below:

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    Tuesday, February 26, 2013

    Skills Trump Passion- Vocab List

    Cool graphic
    Vocabulary from So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love" by Cal Newport. See this post to find out what it's all about!

    The Passion Hyposthesis: The key to occupational happiness is to figure out what you are passionate about and find a job that matches this passion.
    "Be so good they can't ignore you" - what is needed to build a working life you love.
    The craftsman mindset- an approach to your working life in which you focus on the value of what you are offering to the world.
    The passion mindset - an apporach to your working life in which you focus on the value your job is offering you, ultimatly leads to chronic disatisfaction and daydreaming about better jobs
    Career capital- a description of skills you have that are rare and valuable to the working world. This is the key currency for creating work you love.
    The career capital theory of great work; get good at something rare and valuable and then cash in the career capital this generates to acquire the traits that define great jobs.
    • the traits the define great work are rare and valueable
    • supply and demand says that if you want these traits you need rare and valuable skills to offer in return.
    • the craftsmans mindset with its relentless "so good you can't be ignored" is a strategy well suited for acquiring career capital.
    The 10,000 hour rule- the idea that gaining excellent at performing a complex task requires a minimum of 10,000 hours (Gladwell)
    Deliberate practice- the style of difficult practice required to continue to improve at a task. "actively designed, typically by a teacher, for the sole purpose of effectively improving specific aspects of an individuals performance." Requires you to stretch past where you are comfortable and then receive ruthless feedback on your performance. It's uncomfortable.
    Career capital markers- winner take all and auction. In a winner take all there is only one type of career captial available and lots of different people competing for it.
    In an auction market, there are many different types of career capital, and each person might generate their own unique collection of this capital.
    Control- Having a say in what you do and how you do it
    The first control trap-  control aquired without career capial is not sustainable
    The 2nd control trap -when you have enough capital to gain control, you've become valuable enough to your current employer that they will try to prevent you from making the change.
    Courage culture- the promotion of the idea that the only thing standing between you and a dream (job) is building the courage to step off the expected path.
    The law of financial viability- will people pay for your career capital?
    Mission - provides an answer to the question, " What should I do with my life?" a unifying career goal.
    The adjacent possible -the next big ideas in any field are typically found right beyond the current cutting edge, in the adjacent space that contains the possible new combinations of existing ideas. Good career missions are always found in the adjacent possible. If you want to find a mission in your career, you first need to get to the cutting edge of your field.
    Little bets-Innovative corporations and people "rather than believing they had to start with a big idea or plan...they make a methodical series of "little bets" about what might be a good direction, learning critical information from lots of little failures and from small but significant wins"
    The law of remarkabilty- For a "mission- driven" project to suceed, it should be remarkable in 2 different ways:
    • it must be compel people  who encounter it to remark about it to others
    • it must be luanched in a venue that support such remarking.

    Monday, February 25, 2013

    College Common Sense -TOS Review

    If you, like me, have been confronted with college tuition and kids old enough to go, you will be interested in
    by Denise Ames. And if you have younger kids you'll want to consider this as well. Mrs. Ames is a financial aid officer with over a decade of experience and will walk you through the process of understanding financial aid, where and how to obtain it and how to organize the process.
    Going to College and Paying for It Video and Workbook
    In this program you will learn:  
    1. Steps to go to college
    2. What is financial aid?
    3. What is a FAFSA? Do I need one?
    4. How does financial aid work?
    5. Taking a college visit
    6. Where can I find free money for college? How do I apply for it?
    7. How do I fit into the whole picture of college and financial aid?
    In addition to the paid program, you can sign up to receive CCS's free newsletter.The web-site also has a   multiple links to resources for grant and scholarship information
    There are two ways to obtain the information
    1) You can purchase the DVD and workbook- perfect if you have a couple of kids and will be using the program for a couple of years.  This retails for $50 + $5 shipping and handling.
    2)  The 12 month log-in access to all six videos and a printable workbook for $25.
    Feeche (about to graduate) and I watched 2 of the videos alone and he watched the remaining ones on his own. In addition we went through some of the workbook together.
    While the information on the videos is good, I think the program would work just as well as a workbook. Frankly, I was quite perplexed when I initially received the program. I like a good visual overview of what to expect. While the first video talks about what the program will present that there is no "Table of Contents" per se and that would have been very helpful. Also, there is constant referencing in the videos to links on the web-site (which, once found, are great, btw). On my computer, at least, the link drop downs are visually odd so they don't also link through easily. I had a devil of time trying to figure out where she was referring to.
    In addition, Feeche felt that the presentation style on the videos was boring and pedantic. In addition he took issue with 2 ideas put forth by Mrs. Ames 1) "Your future is up to you" and 2) "lucky people are the ones that simply work hard." Both of these were frustrating to my 18 year old who believes 1) his future is up to God, and 2) who has seen, over and over again, that the rain shines on both the just and the unjust. While he understands that Mrs. Ames is trying to encourage kids and young adults to take ownership for their education he felt that these statements perpetrate an attitude of entitlement and expected outcomes. (his .02 worth).
    Content- great
    Presentation- medicore
    Organization- poor
    With that caveat, it's a great way to learn about paying for college. Good for any age for those pursuing higher education or responsible for kids who have college in their future.
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    For the Love of Art

    The assignment at co-op was to find an animal in a National Geographic photo and then replicate it using chalk pastels. Feeche rendered the owl, above.

    We are really blessed to have excellent art teachers in our midst. The kids get art at co-op, class day, and after class. Which is just fine with my crew, as they do art on their own, just for fun.

    Flower did the above using tape and water-color.

     For more amazing art work and rocking projects, along with tons of homeschool inspiration, check out Ana's site and Jannell's site.

    Sunday, February 24, 2013

    The Passion Hyposthesis Turned on Its Head

    So Good They Can't Ignore You - by Cal Newport
    So Good They Can't Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love by Cal Newport.

    The upshot of this straightforward and challenging book is simple: Garner skills that are valuable and income producing, become good enough at them they you can in fact, produce income with them, and then watch the passion for your work increase. This totally flies in the face of the "follow you passion and the money will follow" philosophy. In fact, that's the main apologetic of this book. Thomas is taking on the life-style designers, unschoolers and a host of others.

    And I am loving it. I cut my educational teeth on the likes of John Holt, the Colfax's and Grace Llewellyn. And while they were talking about affording your kids the time and energy to build skills, cut out the extraneous carp of government school and give your kids a unique personalized education, unschoolers have morphed that philosophy into anything (including nothing) goes. I loathe that unschooling has come to mean what it has.

    There has also been a bevy of articles on education in the WSJ and others that talk about the high cost of higher ed, how those with B.A.'s in Humanities are graduating with 10's of 1000's of $ worth of debt, without any, really, truly, marketable skills. They were following their passions. They didn't count the cost.

    Part of what happened, imho, is that our educational system (regardless of whether you are government, private or homeshooled) has gotten long on interest and short on skills. Which is what I love about classical education. It's all about skill building, to the point of excellence. And in some ways, it flies in the face of the delight directed, passion hypothesis mentality. Not popular among the unschoolers, or a lot homeschoolers, of today. But, let's all get real. It's a global market, people, and folks without few skills and lots of entitlement issues are going to have a rough time of it.

    Newport makes great points, "Compelling careers often have complex origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is follow your passion." Uh-huh. I love the story about Steve "Zen" Jobs at the beginning of the book. While Jobs seems to be advocating the passion hypothesis, he didn't actually follow it himself. Way to keep the proletariet's down.

    Here's more, uh-huh, food for thought; "deliberate practice is often the opposite of enjoyable." I've gotten somewhat good at a few things. Not all of it's been fun. During the upward hill of the learning curve, it actually pretty much s8cked. We just don't want to acknowledge that amongst friends. We want learning to be easy, enjoyable and about having a good time. Dr. Dh has 3 earned grad degrees. Only one of them was really "fun" and the joy of that was diminished by the full time job of the other degrees, managing a family, and working at a break-neck pace while pursuing it all. That's what professionalism is...working your arse off to have specialized skills at something that might not be attainable to your average Joe. We seem to forget that. Well, I haven't and neither has Dr. Dh. I think we both still suffer a bit from educational, skill building and student loan battle fatigue.

    More goodness- Be patient; Steve Martin explains his philosophy for learning to play the banjo: "I thought if I stayed with it , then one day I will have been playing for 40 years and anyone who sticks with something for forty years will be pretty good at it." Yeah, baby. Practice makes perfect. And focus does too- Martin redefines diligence so that's it's less about paying attention to your main pursuit and more about your willingness to ignore other pursuits that would distract you.

    Career capital- you have to get good before you can expect good work. The entitlement ethic gives way, in the face of pragmatic real life, to a work ethic.

    The law of financial viability- do what people are willing to pay for. Love this. The B.A. in Brit Lit who owes $100, 000 with somehow forgot this little nugget. Not that the cost of college isn't crazy. I get that. Believe me, I totally get that.

    There's a lot more in Newport's book, including a whole list of vocab, which I've posted separately here.
    But the bottom line:

    Get skills, skills that are financially viable, get focused, be diligent-
    and the passion will follow.

    Saturday, February 23, 2013

    Share It Saturday!

  • Teach Beside Me
    It's a busy season, isn't it? I hope that you are not too busy to share what you've been doing, link up and let us in on your great ideas! I'm keeping my pinterest/ideas folders pretty busy these days ; ). Check out the Share It Saturday Pinterest board.
  • As always, Teach Beside Me and The Sugar Aunts and I all team up to make this a great link-up party. Stop by their blogs; they are full of ideas and inspiration!


    So many great links each week!
    Featured guests from last weeks link-up.
    Potato People Craft- Buggy and Buddy
    Paper Circle Crafts- Art Club Blog
    Birthday Crown- Howling At the Moon
    Indoor Treasure Hunt- Frogs & Snails & Puppy Dog Tails
  • Have a link back to this post if you are participating (on your blog or in your post)
  • If you link up, click on at least one other link for each one that you share.
  • You don't have to comment or follow, but I really do love both of those things! (A Lot!)
  • HAVE FUN! On to this week's linky.

  • Friday, February 22, 2013

    Snowfall Homeschool

    From the lovely Valentines Day Tea Party last week!

    Is anyone else having a hard time keeping up with their life besides me? We are down to a mere 3 kids (count 1 of those as a driving, $ earning, vote casting, functioning adult, and it's really just 2)- the least amount of dependent children we've lived with in a decade. You'd think my life would be less hectic. The reality is that I have been busy. Busy, busy and having a hard time keeping everything done.
    On an unrelated note it snowed today. Lovely, fresh, big as quarter's snow. 6". Woot!

    That being said, we've been rocking our homeschool world. What a difference it is directing a couple of kids instead of a bevy.  I've tweaked my management system yet again. Each kid has one 5 x 7" blue card with all of the curriculum on it that they are using. Certain things get done daily, others not always. The beauty of it is when the kids "run out" of something to do, they just check the card and pick something from it. The true beauty of it is that more days than not we get the entire card done. Woot!

    Sequential spelling. They're all on different lists. Just keep swimming. Flower has been reduced to tears over spelling on more than one occasion. For one, I've had only 1 natural speller in my bunch and it isn't her. For another, she has left-over spelling/ writing anxiety from a comment a girl in a past writing class made - over and over and over again- about how she was a really terrible, horrible, no good, very bad speller/ writer. Nice. My sensitive souled, non-natural speller was given the "get over it" pep talk this week by Moi. The sensitive, compassionate I understand pep talk just wasn't doing the trick. And I've been given the lists to her to spell outloud, rather than to write down. This girl is auditory, baby. If she hears it, she has it. If she writes it or sees it, not so much.
    Why do my kids think that they should have been born with all of the educational downloads they were gonna get already installed?

    Math, Perplexors, Quarter Mile, World Geography- finishing up the Balkan States and still loving the simplicity and efficiency of Memoria Press, Rosetta Stone German, Science- Apologia General and A & P MP3, Tiner's Biology, pre-physics, , Horatius, Famous Men of Rome, Lone Start Learning. This week we threw in some Rod and Staff Grammar and Mary Daly's First Book of Whole Diagrams. We're fun like that.

    Dr. Dh is better. The bronchial/ asthma/pneumonia combo that has crashed his system for the past 3 months is finally backing off and he grows stronger by the day. If you've been praying for him, Thank-you!! He's still not 100% but he is working more and getting through the day without crumping.

    Been reflecting on the Book of Jonah this week; you know, the one ingested by a whale?  I'm realizing that Jonah was one tough, stubborn, hard as nails cookie. It wasn't so much that he was afraid of the Ninevites (and who wouldn't be?), it was that he believed that they should pay for their brutality. He didn't want them to get right with God, he wanted them to get annihilated.  At the end of his infamous story and the end of his book he did what God told him to do, but he's still having the discussion with the Lord and raising the battle cry;  "C'mon, God - Justice! Kill the killers; death to tyrants!"  And the good Lord says it's Mine to decide who gets mercy, who gets justice, who has favor, who lives. I'm liking Jonah more and more. He engages with God when things don't make sense. In the end, he is obedient, but he's still asking. And God says,
    “What’s this? How is it that you can change your feelings from pleasure to anger overnight about a mere shade tree that you did nothing to get? You neither planted nor watered it. It grew up one night and died the next night. So, why can’t I likewise change what I feel about Nineveh from anger to pleasure, this big city of more than 120,000 childlike people who don’t yet know right from wrong, to say nothing of all the innocent animals?”
    (love the bit about the innocent animals- the NKJV talks about the hierarchy of plant, animal, man- with no apologies for being species-ist.)

    Finished "So Good They Can't Ignore You by Cal Newport last week. So many thoughts regarding ed and child rearing and living. A post is coming, just have to coalesce my thoughts.
    Reading The Ramsey Scallop by Temple to the kids. One of my very favorite books, set in the Medieval Ages. A beautiful story of journey, faith restored, and young love. This is the 3rd time I've read it out loud and the youngers are enjoying every bit as much as my older kids did.

    Don't forget to stop by Saturday and link up with Share It Saturday!
    And could you, would you please hop over and vote for DS 18? Thank-you ; )!

    How was your week? What'd ya do?


    Wednesday, February 20, 2013

    Weather Art

    Weather Window Art
    It's been a bit nippy in the Territories this week with another blizzard type storm predicted for Thursday/Friday.

    Tuesday, February 19, 2013

    The Importance of Pedagogy Part II

    I wrote this very long response on a homeschooling forum when someone asked about incorporating various philosophies into their homeschool. I have also just finished reading, "So Good They Can't Ignore You" which is so invigorating I don't know if I'll be able to sleep tonight. More on that  once I process it a bit more.

    I've been reading and studying education and homeschooling since the early 90's when I wrote a Master's thesis on "Why Parent's Homeschool." I continue to read about learning and education, philosophies, pedagogy's, methods, programs, memory, neurology, as does my dh. We do operate from a pedagogy based on a synthesis of what we have learned/know/ continue to learn and our experiences with effective education, our values, hopes, dreams, mission and experience as students ourselves, along with the learning styles/personalities of our children. We have a clearly defined pedagogy. As I've written before, this has saved us hundreds (maybe more) dollars in wasted curriculum, hours of my time searching for "the right thing" and frustration wondering why my kids aren't happy with the curriculum and ed experiences we have chosen to invest our time and money in. A pedagogy is a time, money and sanity saver.

    Honestly, the more I learn, the more I teach, the more I understand about brain function, the more I "get" what effective education is and does and affords a person, the better teacher I am, the more developed my pedagogy is. And here's the deal. There IS effective education and there is ineffective education. As much as I love and value literature, I believe that many of the lit based curriculum's are short changing your student. Why? because they are heavy on overview and light on long term memorization. Lots of folks want to argue that learning dates, places, times, etc is fluff. But the real deal is that if you can train your kids brain to retain, it does. Not only that, they have more complex neural pathways and so stuff connects more readily, building even more complex pathways, etc.etc. If we teach them how to learn, and not just to memorize to the test, long term amazing stuff happens. Also, when you challenge your kids and require them to work hard, they get how to work hard.

    CM is so magnetic - I agree- we value and incorporate nature studies and habits, along with art studies. Unschooling seems so natural. But of course. There is nothing more natural than letting your kids be themselves and enjoy their excitement and enthusiasm. Classical is great at skill building- hard work but very effective when actually done. I get what you are saying. I appreciate it. I see the value is a plethora of pedagogy's. (see here and here) But here's what I have come to after 22 years of doing this. Your kids needs skills. They will be competing globally for jobs. We are a soft culture. We don't value skills the way we used to. Our kids have great self esteem but don't know that much compared to other big dogs on the block. (see 2 million minutes and Fared Zakara's Post American World) So, while I want and encourage them to have great life experiences and do lots of unique and interesting things, (I am a findcoolthings4mykids2dofool) I value skill building under girded by a faith based system of understanding the world (Christian).

    I just finished reading "So Good They Can't Ignore You." An excellent apologetic for Skill driven learning/work vs. a passion driven philosophy of study/work (which might not seem to answer your question, but take a look at it-- it just might).


    Sunday, February 17, 2013

    Book and Move Reviews

    2013 Book a Week Reading Challenge Update

    A Year of Living Biblically, by A.A. Jacobs. Written by a secular Jews, but kuddos to him for given it a go. His writing is funny, if not irreverent, but he gives equal play to all parties. He was thorough, willing to meet and talk with people outside the norms, outside of his norms, and approach the Bible with a true sense of wanting to know.Would that the church would apply itself with as much fervor. Granted, living Biblically was Jacobs' job for the year, but if that, then even more so the church.
    He did coin the phrase, "reverent atheist" which we heard from Gretchen Rubin (The Happiness Project) and others. I'm not a fan of the phrase. How can you be reverent, "Feeling or showing deep and solemn respect" to someone or something you don't acknowledge? Agnostic: one who is not committed to believing in either the existence or the nonexistance of God or a god.
    Semantic word-play by those who can't commit. Other than that, a very good and challenging read. Challenging as, "How do I live Biblically each year? I have an answer for that, but it would kind of take over this post.

    My Life Deleted: The Memoir of Scott Bolzan, former NFL player and business man who slipped in the bathroom at work and came to not knowing who or where he was. Bolzan suffers from retrograde amnesia and had to learn everything, including the meanings of words like, "family," "bedroom" and "television." An interesting look at what binds us to each other, the value and importance of memories and our sense of self, purpose and identity. The Bolzan's worked with a writer and it shows, especially towards the end of the book. It's a compelling story, but not necessarily compelling writing.

    The Girls from Ames: a group of 10 that have been friends since high school. One of my co-workers in CA had a group- 16 I think- of friends from high school. She called them her "sisters" and that fascinated me. I moved every 2 years as a child, and to think about people hanging together like this- going on vacations, taking formal pictures together, being intimately invovled in each other's lives with folks from elementary and high school blows me away. Very much like, "The Necklace"-  about the formation and generation of a community of women.

    The Red Falcons of Tremoine- a YA read-aloud from Bethlehem books. A lovely medieval story about  family, honor and forgiveness. Lots of fun discussions about the norms and modes of feudal society, castle development and freedom. Flower kept saying, "Why didn't Leo just leave. Who cares if the Baron told him to stay."

    Watched 7 Minutes in Heaven last night. A fascinating Indie film about a woman who is dead for 7 minutes. It is full of double entendre, but the upshot is that Gaila (the protagonist) can, and does, ultimately decide, her fate. She wants her life back, before the bombing that left her boyfriend dead, her body scarred and her memory fractured. A "neo-noir," it will keep you thinking. In light of Scott Bolzan's life, it's especially fascinating. Magical, mystical thinking vs. the harsh reality of it often is what it is.

    Watched the new Tron with my 13 year. This is love, people. More spontaneous evolution amongst computers, much like Triggers by Sawyers. Right. And the cute computer chip chick just morphs into a warm body. Puhleeze.

    I am currently reading So Good They Can't Ignore You, by Cal Thomas, which refutes the passion mind-set. More excellent fodder for educating classically. I'll be writing more about it later. (gotta finish the book first)

    What are you reading/ watching?

    Saturday, February 16, 2013

    Books, Buddies, Borrow

     Because we live out of county from a decent library system we pay for the privilege. It is worth every penny. We pre-order books, movies and books on tape regularly. We browse the stacks, take away, and leave for others, free magazines, have access to just released books, and have a safe place for Flower to hang out during TC every week. She and the other giggle gals comadiere a table in the kids section and spread out. Some weeks it's a craft, some weeks a table full of toys, some weeks they all collect piles of their fav authors and read to each other or just read alongside a friend. And don't forget InterLibrary Loan. Somewhere in the system is the hard to find book that we don't want to pay $30 for.


    Share It!

    Welcome back to Share It Saturday. I hope everyone has had a great week.

    Teach Beside Me and The Sugar Aunts and I all team up to make this a great link-up party. Stop by their blogs; they are full of ideas and inspiration!

    Also, Karyn (Teach Beside Me) has created a Share It Saturday Pinterest board- You are going to want to stop by and check it out- there are TONS of fantastic ideas pinned!
    Featured links from last week:
    and so many more!
    We love your links! As a participant:
  • Have a link back to this post if you are participating (on your blog or in your post)
  • If you link up, click on at least one other link for each one that you share.
  • You don't have to comment or follow, but I really do love both of those things! (A Lot!)
  • HAVE FUN! On to this week's linky.

  • And now for this week's link-up:

    Friday, February 15, 2013

    Mid Winter Homeschool

    Is anyone else experiencing a mid-winter slump besides me and my brood? We are getting stuff done, but the weather is grey and overcast and we are feeling it. The blizzard last week-end closed the highways on Monday and we've had wildly vacillating weather since; freeze, thaw, slush, rain, freeze, ice, snow, mild, cold. Thinking spring....

    Highlight of the week was a Valentine's Day party with Miss. Elea and lots of giggly girlies. Cupcakes, tea, a chilly walk and valentines. Mid-week play-time is always welcome!

    Cub finished Perplexors "C" this week. We are on to "D" and I am working hard to keep up. We continue to do 2 spelling lists a day with Sequential Spelling. Saxon Math carries on at a lesson a day, Lone Star. We are still going through MP's World Geography- on to the Scandinavian Countries this week- though we are no longer going to TC in the a.m's on Tuesday. Makes life a lot less hectic. RS German, read-aloud....the usual suspects get covered.

    Checking out requirements for licensure in various states. It would actually be much, much easier for me to get licensed in states other than the one I live in. Might be worth a  move...seriously.

     However, the mere mention of the word, "move" sends Flower in to a complete panic. She loves our house, loves our acreage, loves her friends. She has lived here all of her life, except for the first 10 mths. And oddly, I have lived in this house longer than anywhere else in my 5life - even with the 11 mths from the fire subtracted.

    Have I mentioned before that my kids do a ton of art? We have art class at TC, art class at co-op, Flower takes clay classes. Some of the latest creations from TC and co-op classes are truly frame worthy!

    Feeche and I finished the paper bag floor in the basement bedroom. Of course, there's a story, and it wasn't just an easy, looks good at the end of the day fix. But it is done. And I think he'll move back in to his own room soon. Pictures and the story later..

    How was your week? (I'll add in pictures later.)

    Sunday, February 10, 2013

    Apologia Exploring Anatomy and Physiology Review

    Apologia Educational Ministries has been a big name in the homeschooling world for over a decade. I recently had the opportunity to review their Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology including the Textbook, Regular Notebooking Journal and MP3 Audio CD
    We've used Apologia for over 10 years- it's de rigour high school curriculum 'round here. We generally take a more informal approach to eled science. Lots of books, NOAA and NASA web-sites and talks with Dr. Dh about everything under, and over, the sun. That being said, I was curious about Apologia's Elementary program
    Draw and label a cell
    I used it with Flower (gr 5, age 10) and Cub (gr 7, age 13), both of whom were already reading a science book/curriculum at the time we started (Flower was reading Tiner's Biology; Cub was reading Apologia's General Science, in addition to taking pre-physics at TC, both were watching GC's Physics in Your Life with Feeche). I mention this to underline the fact that even though the kids were engaged scientifically every day anyway, they were more than happy to jump in to this program - that's just how user-friendly and engaging it is!
    Are you as tall as you are wide?
    Everything that is right with this program:
    1. The text is written in the conversational style Apologia is known and loved for. There are 14 lessons, each designed to be completed in a 2 week time frame. The major body systems are covered, along with nutrition, the senses, blood and growth and development. In addition there are "Try This" activities throughout the book. Many of them were simple, easy to try projects and experiments with items readily available at home. Each chapter included a "What do you remember?" page, notebooking activities, personal person project and chapter project. That's a lot of bang for your scientific buck!
    2. It requires nothing out of the ordinary. In addition, the "wow" factor was high- for instance the "edible cell" (check out the TOS crew list for some awesome pictures). You can download the list for experiments here.
    3. This is a Charlotte Mason style curriculum- meaning conversational style text, narration, note-booking, experiments and projects that are user friendly. Read, no pressure on us non-scientific types!
    4.  The note booking journal re-enforces ideas and the scientific method, along with focusing on the concepts introduced in the text. In other words, no random or complicated tangents. The graphics are beautiful and well-done; copy work and lap book projects included- check it out here. One of the things I love about it is that it is contained and ready to go. No lost photocopies, no wondering where the stuff is. The stuff is right there. The notebook includes crossword puzzles, copy work, mini-books, info for further exploration, text review sheets and, ta-da, a personal person body outline complete with professional, full color overlay sheets. When your child is done with the program, they have a spiral-bound notebook to treasure!
    5. The MP3 recording is actually Jeannie Fulbright (the author) reading the text. I'd just like to say I think this was a stroke of genius on Apologia's part! My 10 and 13 year old would actually ask to "go and do science" in the afternoons! Because of the conversational style of the writing, it's like story-time! Auditory types will love it! Mine did!
    Draw and label a cell
    This is an excellent, well-thought out and beautifully presented curriculum. Another winner from our friends at Apologia! Good for 3rd grade through middle school.

    Exploring Creation with Human Anatomy and Physiology is an elementary level Anatomy and Physiology book that gives glory to God as children discover all that goes on in their bodies from their heads to the nails on their toes! Beginning with a brief history of medicine and a peek into cells and DNA, your students will voyage through fourteen lessons covering many subjects, such as the body systems: skeletal, muscular, respiratory, digestive, cardiovascular, nervous and more!
    Can be purchased directly from Apologia: $39.00 Textbook, $24.00 Regular Notebooking Journal or Junior Notebooking Journal , $29 MP3 Audio CD

    Thank-you to Apologia and Schoolhouse Review Crew for the opportunity to review this program!

    Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this product through the Schoolhouse Review Crew in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way. All opinions I have expressed are my own or those of my family. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC Regulations.

    Saturday, February 9, 2013

    Share It Saturday!

    Teach Beside Me
    Welcome back to Share It Saturday. I hope everyone has had a great week. Did you notice how many links we got last week? Well over 100! Woohoo!. Thanks to all of you who stopped by and shared your fun things. 
    Teach Beside Me and The Sugar Aunts and I all team up to make this a great link-up party. Stop by their blogs; they are full of ideas and inspiration!
    Also, Karyn (Teach Beside Me) has created a Share It Saturday Pinterest board- You are going to want to stop by and check it out- there are TONS of fantastic ideas pinned!
    Just a few of the amazing Valentine's Day inspired links from last week! Enjoy!
     Mama of Many Blessings- 50+ Valentine's Day Activities
    and now on to this weeks party!
  • Have a link back to this post if you are participating (on your blog or in your post)
  • If you link up, click on at least one other link for each one that you share.
  • You don't have to comment or follow, but I really do love both of those things! (A Lot!)
  • HAVE FUN! On to this week's linky.

    Friday, February 8, 2013

    Working It

    School consisted of Sequential Spelling, RS German, Saxon Math, Perplexors, GC Physics, Apologia's Anatomy and Physiology (check my review coming up!) and General Science as well as Pre-Physics and for Cub and Tiner's Bio for Flower. Feeche started EIW's 11th grade (12th isn't out yet), reading the Economist, and scholarship essay writing, along with Artistic Pursuits. Oh yeah, and Lone Star's Target the Question, which is brilliant, imho. Loving the real life- math application!

    Red Falcons Of Tremoine
    Read-aloud of the week is Red Falcons of Tremoine published by Bethlehem Books. We have a fair number of their books in our library due to our willingness to conference vend for them and their generosity. We have loved each and every one. If you aren't familiar with their company, do yourself a favor and go to their web-site here.
    Feeches also deep into Lawhead again and I made it through My Life, Deleated , a memoir of former NFL player Scott Bolzan, who slipped, lost consciousness and woke up with retro-grade amnesia. Still working on Lavinia by LeGuin.

    Rocking it since 86', baby!
    Photo: Do you disagree?

    The weather was much warmer this week with a high of 43 on Wednesday. What's 50-60 degrees between 24 hours (or 12?).  Blizzard scheduled for this week-end. Joy.
    Valentine's Day is coming up and because of a CBD DVD we watched years ago about St. Valentine, I always associate it with conversion and Christ. Who, after all, is at the heart of true love. I recently came across Rosario Butterfield's compelling story and I am touched by it's sweet, humble and honest beauty.
    Rosaria Champagne Butterfield shares about true love: My Train Wreck Conversion;
    "As a leftist lesbian professor, I despised Christians. Then I somehow became one."
    She goes on to write, "There is a biblical principle that lies behind my confusion (regarding her realization that, at 39, she was too old to bear children): people whose lives are riddled with unrestrained sin act like rebellious children. Sin, when unrestrained, infantilizes a person. Here I had thought that I was so mature, so capable, so “important” in the world, and the truth remains that I didn’t even know how to act my age! After conversion, I was surprised to discover how old I really was." The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: an English professor’s journey into the christian faith (Pittsburgh: Crown & Covenant, 2012),
     Don't forget Share It Saturday- We had a GREAT turn-out last week with over 100 links! Woot! Many of them are holiday inspired - check out last week and this for Valentines Day inspiration!

    Wednesday, February 6, 2013

    Art and um...Dance

    Flower is back to 3 art classes a week, loving it and is all the more inspired. This week's fun:  Colored hot rocks.
    Wash the rocks, heat in the oven and color- the colors melt. Instant cool.
    Cub finishing the flower painting from Ana's TC art class.
    I told Feeche I was doing action photos for WW and he immediately broke in to his John Travolta routine.
    Scary, but funny.

    Monday, February 4, 2013

    Just a Story Loving Fool

    I'm a dedicated word hacker and so I tweaked the current TOS blog hop from
    "What is Your Favorite Subject to Teach"
    (hopefully, you'll understand why in a minute)
    "What is Your Favorite TOPIC to Teach."
     Hands down, it's
     And I use about any subject I can get my hands on to teach it: history, literature, art, film, writing and science, people, language and vocabulary, Bible, apologetics and theology among others.

    I've always been a word nerd. I learned to read at 4. My Dad was teaching my older-by-1-year- sister to read at home, using a phonics program. Successful completion of the days lesson earned the student red and gold stars on a crisp chart taped to the side of the refrigerator. I loved that chart (I'm definitely a visual learner) and I loved the thought of having the key to unlock the mystery of letters. I begged my dad to show me the program. He did and I've been reading and story loving ever since. But I was missing a fundamental part of it all. I was a consumer of words without discernment. A reader without heart.

    30 years ago, I was sick. Physically ill, spiritually dead and disenchanted with life. I was wandering around in the wilderness, truly lost, with no hope, no direction, no reason. Christ found me there, wooed my heart and mind and soul and told me the most compelling story of love and purpose I had ever heard. He infused me with the life and light of it. And then He promised to give me a story of my own; not quite as compelling as His, but enough for a mere mortal. I have been smitten with redemptive story since and it has been the hallmark of our marriage, home and homeschool.

    Curriculum for history, theology, literature, science? Story. Living books; light on the twaddle. History is full of magnificent crescendos and devastating crashes. It needs a healthy balance of theology and purpose, or it can be oppressive. Art and writing are excellent skills to teach any one who wants to communicate well, but I emphasize to my students that redemptive story is far more productive and compelling than story that seeks to titillate or horrify or romance without it. Without redemption, it becomes merely a way to patronize one's baser desires and instincts.
    Apologetics is great training in the getting to the meat of story. It's like training FBI agents in the hundreds of particulars found on the real deal $100 bill. You know the story.

    Postmodernism and revisionism  and the advent of cheap words are attempting to minimize the importance of story, shedding doubt on the power and wonder of it. If a blank canvas is high art, then we've not only found new meaning, we've lost it all together. If words mean whatever you want them to at the time, eternal means now, never or soon enough. Story is just as important now, maybe more so, than ever before.

    It is my favorite subject to teach. How 'bout you?
    For more educational inspiration, check out the TOS blog (permalink will go live on Feb. 12)

    Saturday, February 2, 2013

    Ready, Set, Action!

    image from Collins Weddings
    I had this crazy idea to teach a film class for co-op.
    True Confessions: I know very little about filming.
    I've never really been into videography. At all.
    But our kids (mine, friends) had done beaucoups theater (drama camp, Shakespeare Camp, Tantara, etc) and I thought it would be a nice challenge and add dimension to the performances. And, honestly, I was inspired by a fellow homeschooler. She assigned her kids a history lesson. They responded by video taping an interview with Pocahontas. 3 years later they are making 1 hour long videos, including costumes, lighting, sound, and extras. What fun!

    Maybe you want to jump into the fray? Here's some resources to get your started:
    Crystal Creek Media. Another homeschooling family that has turned their interest in film and apologetics into a business- namely that of producing feature length films. The good folks here have created a 16 set DVD series titled Film School (they also run camps around the country). Tons of good information packed in. We won't be watching the whole series as a group, but I'm watching them at home, taking notes and trying to stay 1-2 steps ahead of everybody.

    The 10-shot video- book and web-site: Ready, Steady, Shoot! The kids are doing 1 10-shot exercise a week.

    Various You Tubes made by fellow homeschoolers. Here are a couple of our favs: Dangers of Homeschooling and Man vs. Farm

    I found some great resources through Harmony Art Mom's video class that she did with her son

    Schoolhouse has a film making class by George Escobar that Feeche and I are slowly making our way through. Good stuff and compared to the cost of some of the others, plus all of the other classes you get, it's worth every.penny.

    A couple of books to get your started: Filmmaking for Dummies and Teach Yourself Filmmaking.
    Here's a list of film camps from Homeschool World and here's another comprehensive article on resources available, most of which are not inexpensive.

    Timberdoodle has some film making resources as well.

    In addition there are several Christian Independent Film Festivals around the world. Maybe you'll be the next winner?
    In keeping with the Party theme of the week, it's Share-It Saturday; a weekly linky party! Link up posts with educational ideas, crafts, and teaching tips. Please include a link back to this blog if participating.

    And don't forget to stop by Karyn's at Teach Beside Me, who is the host of the party and the Sugar Aunts, who co-host with me!

    Features from last weeks party:
    Tracks in the Snow is a lovely nature study for winter, from Sara over at Embracing Destiny

    Niccola shared a lovely art project at An Idea on Tuesday

    School Time Snippets shares a great ideas to keep your child's motivation about school going with "To-Do" School Jar

  • Have a link back to this post if you are participating (on your blog or in your post)
  • If you link up, click on at least one other link for each one that you share.
  • You don't have to comment or follow, but I really do love both of those things! (A Lot!)
  • On to this week's linky.