Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Smaug, Sam & Gandalf

Just wanted to brag on my adorable kids kittens- Cute aren't they? We are going with LOTR inspired names, from the left: Smaug, Sam and Gandalf.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Spring School

We rock, of course we do! This, even thought it's spring. The 50 mph winds are good incentive to stay indoors, right?
First Form Latin is challenging for Flower, but once she figured out that she could use the text for reference when answering the questions, she chilled out a bit. Total review for Cub, but he is reveling in the fact that he totally gets it this round. I'm actually feeling less intimidated myself!
Notgrass American History. The text is mainly review, but a bit more detailed, and the pictures are just amazing. Flower loves the workbooks, which are a combo of games and detail.
We finished "Asia" in MP's Geography II. 
More Perplexors has been a fun challenge for all of us. We've been stumped a few times and have decided that they really needed 1 more clue in a few of the puzzles. Math just keeps on flowing.
I've upped the Rosetta Stone German requirement to two lessons a day (mainly because I am determined to actually finish level 1 this year!)- 4 if they want to play MineCraft. Flower plans ahead and just does 4 at once.
VP Bible cards are slowly getting memorized.
The kids started listening to Henty's Lee in Virginia by Jim Hodges. Cub agrees he's racist. Tons of comments and questions regarding slavery and what makes a good slave owner (um,not being one). Flower is fascinated by the concept and it's aftermath and watched The Help twice last week.

Oh yeah, almost forget to mention that Cub will be performing Joseph and the Tecnicolor DreamCoat for Drama Camp. I am hearing LOTS of singing 'round here!

Flower firmly believes that "Kitten-ology" is justifiable spring coursework!

Feeche has 1 more week of college classes and has successfully transferred to a state school for fall. He has tons to cram in before then, including the landscaping job he loves. Spent one afternoon working and came home worn-out and muscle weary!

Cub has been deep into Hunger Games this week (along with a study guide by Progeny Press -review to follow) that he is really enjoying,  This surprises me because study guide, activity guide kind of guy he is not. But he's been dying to read this series and the study guide was my one requirement. Actually, it's good as far as dystopian lit goes. Great premise (esp for history lovers) and redemptive qualities throughout (one of the hallmarks of truly good dystopian lit vs. straight-out tragedy).

 Friday, April 25, 2014 from 2:00-3:00p.m. EDT
My NASA loving gang will be there. 

Feeche is hitting the campaign trail in a few weeks. He'll be hanging with some of his Peach State peeps, working hard to get another state official elected (and drinking copious amounts of coffee along the way). Love these opportunities, made possible by connections we made while bringing TeenPact to our state. Bill Shatner's philosophy of Saying Yes brings it's own rewards. 

I read Following Ezra this week, by David Fields -Meyers. A bittersweet account of life with an autistic child. A touching reminder that outcomes aren't assured, but faithfulness matters. As one reviewer states, Love and dignity are woven throughout. That.

Reviews of the Week include one of my Homeschool MUST HAVES
I love this curriculum 
as well as the curriculum company who just re-released it, Roman Roads Media. They are a company to keep your eye on. Stay tuned for my review of The Greeks!
and a fun new find: 

I guest posted over at Sandbox to Socrates this week: Peace of Mind Pedagogy as part of their series on Why Classical. They also have a great series on Why Homeschool, along with a terrific article on Taking Courage, Homeschooling a Child with Disabilities by one of my Territories Homies. There is a newsletter to sign up for and lots of other cool things happening, so you'll want to keep an eye on what's going on over there!

Several years ago Clay expressed his concern in seeing and hearing about homeschooling moms who were weary and discouraged, some to the point of quitting. “Karen,” he said, “The whole future of western civilization rests in whether or not homeschooling moms stay encouraged!”
I was taken aback! My husband is rarely given to hyperbole and this, he assured me, was a real and true concern. He went on to paint a picture for me of the past 30 years of homeschooling and the hundreds of young people we have personally known who grew up, married, and are successful as parents and in their chosen professions. He pointed out the growing numbers of faithful second-generation homeschoolers in his synopsis. He then observed that the modern church, for the most part, has failed to realize the importance of homeschooling and the powerful force for revival and reformation it has been, simply by raising children, by God’s grace alone, to live simple, believing lives. Instead, he reminded me, the church is often at odds with us, in part, because homeschooling, for all its growth and success, is still counter cultural in evangelicalism, and, when its tremendous potential for genuine mentoring is seen, even threatens the staff-laden machinery that is the local church. And in the middle of the gender wars that are central to so much of conservative Christianity today, the importance of homeschooling moms gets lost in the shuffle. They become discouraged, after thoughts that they often are, and are tempted to throw in the towel." ~ The Joy of Relationship Homeschooling, when the one anothers come home

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

The Brinkman Adventures- TOS Review

are unique, radio-dramas of real life missionary stories. We had the privilege of listening to

Do you love radio-theater, good drama, quality entertainment? You will find all of that and more in this unique series, based on the real lives of Christian missionaries.

Flower (age 11) and Cub (age 14) have spent a lot of time listening to CD's and Mp3's this year and have favorite story tellers and narrators. They weren't sure what to expect from this collection, and Cub especially, started listening a bit warily. Wariness gave way to total and complete enthusiasm. Both kids enjoyed this, looked forward to the afternoons when they could get back to it and couldn't wait to fill me in on what happened next!

The Brinkman family is real and portrays themselves in the Brinkman Adventures. The adventures are based on real events. The locations are real. The authenticity comes across loud and clear and won major points with my discriminating listeners! 
The Brinkman family is decidedly Christian without being legalistic and preachy. The stories focus on God's grace and personal involvement in people's lives. My kids were amazed at some of the stories, compelled and encouraged. Furthermore, this is not a series that glosses over some of the more difficult aspects of living a life of Faith, but portrays hardships as something real to overcome and walk closely with God through. My kids appreciate that. It validates their own trials and hardships, without minimizing the pain or their trust in the Almighty.

One of Flowers favorite scenes is when Hope finds a possum in the fruit bowl in Belize. We have encountered possums on our property- as recently as just a few months ago. They are not attractive creatures. They are more ugly rodent than anything else. Flower has been mesmerized by this story, which ties the familiar and the unfamiliar so closely together that it is, at once, believable and inconceivable. 

The stories were engaging, to the point that the kids excited about what would happen next, would pause the story to find me and tell me what happened and have been quoting parts of the stories since! This is awesome faith building material. Not because of the profound apologetics, or the solemn faith-filled testimonies or because this family is more devout than others. It's fantastic material because it's a real family- just like yours or mine, that is living their life, as odd or unique as it may be, and God is totally in the midst of it, shaking it up, encouraging, challenging and providing fun and adventure along the way. Great stuff, that! The The Brinkman Adventures are extremely well-told stories that are engaging, fun, faith building and adventuresome. My kids can't wait until we get 

Season 1 

Season 2 has 4 CDs which include 12 episodes (5+ hours!) $25. This is actually a suggested donation because they are committed to getting these mission adventures into people's hands! $17 for the MP3 album. Your donation above and beyond the suggested prices, allows them to put these recordings in the hands of people who can't afford them.

Faith building listening for the entire family.

Find Brinkman Adventures on Facebook HERE
This would be an excellent addition to your Christian or Bible studies, for a youth group or Christian club.

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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Update on Adorable

The kittens are growing. Names this year are Tolkien inspired.
 Gandalf the Grey is Flower's favorite. 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grammar of Poetry Review

"Poetry is important because words are important."

Roman Roads Media just might be my favorite new curriculum supplier. I have several reasons, but one of the main ones is that they took one of my favorite curriculum's, re-packaged it, included DVD's and put it back on the market, all bright and shiny:

by Matt Whitling

Why bother with poetry? Poetry is about the art of creative writing. There is no more effective way of teaching beautiful writing than to teach poetry, memorize poetry and perform poetry. I have a profound love and appreciate of poetry because I have a profound love and appreciation for the power and beauty of words. The Grammar of Poetry teaches students of all ages (5th grade through adult) how listen to, write and read poetry.

The Grammar of Poetry is one of the first curriculum reviews I did- way back in 2009- and it continues to be one of my most read blog posts. I've taught this program to groups twice- first, as a semester long-course to a group of 5th-9th graders and then as part of a High School Creative Writing Course for 9th to 12th graders. It is a brilliant introduction to the foundations (grammar) of Poetry; thoroughly covering the two parts of poetry; pictures (tropes) and music (rhyme) and including imitation (the students write poetry throughout the course). It is simple but not simplistic. It guides your students through the seemingly complex maze of iambic, trochaic, anapestic and  dactylic forms with ease.

The Program consists of 9 modules, Each module includes a lesson on trope (pictures) and meter (music) - which are the key ingredients of poetry- as well as imitation. The DVD's include Matt Whitling (the author) teaching the course module by module. There is a terrific chalk-talk introduction to the program, an apologetic for the importance of teaching poetry as well as a  Matt Whitling speaking about attitude in classes and why poetry is important for both boys and girls to learn.

I would love to teach this program again. Unfortunately, time is at a premium. Guess what? My younger kids will still be learning this great information, because they will be watching the DVD's and learning from one of the best, Matt Whitiling. I was asked by a GG reader if I thought that the DVD's were a "nice to have" or  a "must have." I'm of the belief that the younger the kid, the better served they are by real, live, teachers. I also think that when you can get a hold of a master teacher in an areas that isn't one of your best areas, CD's and DVD's bring world class leaders home. So, really, weigh your confidence and skill level, the age of your students and decide. The book includes all that you need to teach this course masterfully. If you want the support of Mr. Whitling by your side, or can't eek out any more time, let him teach for you.

You can teach this course a number of different ways: as a "bootcamp" -over the course of a month, teaching a module/3 lessons a day. As a semester long course- doing approximately 3 modules or 10 lessons a month or as a year long class doing 1 module or 3 lessons a month. I always incorporate poetry memorization into this class (there are poems throughout, as well as a terrific poetry anthology in Appendix A) because I want the kids to really own the beautiful words of some master poets. For that reason, I think a semester is ideal for teaching the Grammar of Poetry. I always had one hour to teach this class in and that was enough time for recitation, the prior weeks riddles (included in every lesson, the lesson, practice and any questions.

 My 11 and 14 year old will continue this class over the spring and into summer. They are both proficient writers, love all things Roman Roads Media and enjoy the presentation style of Mr. Whitiling. Additionally, I know that my kids are in capable hands, leaving me free to do the plethora of tasks demanding my attention. While not a flamboyant teacher, Mr. Whitiling is neither dry nor boring. He is engaging, sure of himself and clearly loves the material and teaching. You really can't go wrong with the DVD set. It is professional quality with excellent graphics, a world class teacher and course material that every well-education student should have.

This is the perfect class for 6th graders through high school, an excellent addition to any high school literature program or as an elective credit. In 23 years of homeschooling, I count the The Grammar of Poetry as a Home school Must Have, regardless of your pedagogy, kids abilities or appreciation of poetry.

You can purchase the program directly from Roman Roads Media, as individual components of a curriculum (Student manual, Teacher Manual, DVD's) or as a bundle for $100. Be sure to check out the web-page for lots of great info and freebies. You can also "Like" their FB page here.  This is a company to keep your eye on if you appreciate quality, classical materials.
Stay tuned for my up-coming review of The Greeks by Roman Roads Media.

I was given a complimentary copy of the new The Grammar of Poetry, complete with DVD's in exchange for my honest review. Honestly, I loved the program before and I love it even more now.

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Friday, April 18, 2014

The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling #5- Be Extraordinary

Sorry for the long delay in getting this series finished. I made the decision to go to Duluth last week sans computer and it was a mixed blessing. Anyway, I got home on Sunday, after 4 long days of driving and working the conference, while battling the flu, and hit the ground running again on Monday. Today is the first break I've had to get back to really blogging, so thanks for your patience! 

And, without further ado, here is my last post in the Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling: 
Be Extraordinary.

Which fits in perfectly with my blog; Golden Grasses, because my tag line is "Crafting the Extraordinary from the Ordinary." Maybe it's my birth order, having been raised by therapists in the 70's, or latent adrenaline junkie tendencies, but I have a really hard time letting my life being determined by the status quo. I'm constantly reading, learning, musing, thinking, talking to folks, trying to understand others perspectives and figuring out how to cook delicious, organic food on a budget while not spending any time in the kitchen (which you know if I master, I will attain Queen of the Universe status!). Of course, this is all easy to do when one is single and solitary. Add in some other humans, lack of sleep, too much to do, irritating, selfish others, selfish self, kids who don't mind or won't learn, frustration, computers that don't cooperate, etc. and my desire to understand any one's perspective beyond my own goes out the window. 

You know what I mean, right? We all have the ideal of who we want to be. We might actually be that on some days. And then we have the days where we go into public with puke on our shirt, or to church with 2 different shoes on, when we really do lock ourselves in the bathroom to hide and if one more person asks you to fit one more thing in, you might scream, throw the phone or scream into it before refusing to answer it again. 

It's hard to be extraordinary when life is so demanding and time is so short. But even so, I would lay bets that you know what extraordinary would entail. I do. I live with ideals in my head. Which, most days, is better than living with voices in my head. 

For instance, I know what my ideal educational paradigm would be. I've tried to create it a few times, and almost came close. Right now, my ideal isn't available so I do what's within my power to create that with what I have. For us, that's homeschooling with a neo-classical pedagogy and lasagna homeschooling, enhanced by my work with the extraordinary TOS Crew.  

 I know what my ideal professional environment would be. I keep pinching myself because in many ways I have that right now; in two areas that I actually get compensated for. Lucky, lucky me. (Well, since I don't believe in luck, a more accurate statement would be, I am blessed!) Even with that, having just done a review that included professional development goals, I can tell you that there are things I need to do to improve. Lucky blessed me again because I have get to read books on my list anyway and have the opportunity to get some computer training paid for by someone else. Two-fer.

I'm always on the look-out for ways to improve things -and being a melancholy personality- there is so much to improve. But frankly, time and energy- as you know- are limited quantities. So, I'm going to focus on the things that are non-negotiables and let go of some things that can't be fixed. 

One of the things I truly love about Covey's work is when he talks about surrounding yourself with extraordinary people, which leads to synergy- 1 +1 becomes greater than the value of it's parts. It's really important to seek out people who are smarter, wiser, more skilled and have greater energy than you. Learn and grow from them and listen when they point out areas you need to improve. Do your part and then let them do theirs. Honestly, that's why, I'm privileged to say, our homeschooling community offers Drama Camp, Tantara, Poetry Outloud AND a Shakespeare Camp each year. Love.

I'm going to fall short. So are you. We can't be extraordinary all the time. When I hear new homeschoolers confide that they are terrified they'll leave "gaps" in their kids education I smile. I smile and tell them I'm going to relive some anxiety for them by assuring them that they WILL leave gaps. So does the public school. It's o.k. It's important to determine what gaps you are willing to live with and which ones you are not and then go after your list of non-negotiable. And when you go after your list of non-negotiables, do it with panache, do it with flair; do it like the extraordinary woman you are. Because only you bring to your kids education, and your job,  your skills, abilities, perspective, faith and hopes.

For me, it's easier to focus on just a few things at a time to really focus on. I do love Outliers and think there is a lot to think about in terms of TIME invested (you know, 10,000 hours = an expert). But the thing Gladwell doesn't touch base on is focus while investing time. In my experience intensity of purpose is just as important as time invested.  For us, that is why we have gone with a neo-classical pedagogy, that is why working from home is ideal, that is why word rather than image based is important to us. 

Call to Action
Determine your Non-Negotiable in Homeschooling and determine how to make it happen
Determine your Non -negotiables at work and determine how to make it happen.
Create a short list of areas in which you want to excel- to truly be extraordinary- (physical, mental, spiritual, social) and then create a plan of action to complete it.

Be sure to stop by my fellow Crewbies for some more great reading this week.
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Planning Your Homeschool Year
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings ~ Family Friendly Finger Food
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Life at Full Speed

Our pile o'kittens are growing and getting more adorable by the minute. I love them more now that it's warm enough for them to be out of the house! 

School- we've been rocking.
(I've highlighted curriculum in purple, links are highlighted in red)
School this week: Math- Flower is cruising through Saxon 7/6. More Perplexors has challenged all of us. Cub is working with Dr. Dh on Learn Math Fast Applications of Algebra.
We are reading Notgrass American History outloud, Flower is going through all of the workbooks and we are doing some of the projects. It's mostly review with tons of great detail and pictures. Cub is also reading The Great Republic and The People of Ancient Israel.
Rosetta Stone German has re-entered the picture on a daily basis.
Spelling You See Continues to be a BIG win for us- Flower is almost done with Book 1 of the Wild Tales. LOVE this program!
Memory Press Geography II- we just finished Asia. Great stuff and a good partner with Drawing the World with Art which Flower is doing in co-op.
Cub finished Apologia's Biology last week. My plan is to have him take lab science with Bridgeway Academy this coming year through their Learning Labs- they are offering Biology, Chemistry and Astronomy over 10 weeks time periods- woot!  I love science but swore off labs forever the year I was pregnant and dissected cows eyes. I might never get over that.
Started First Form Latin with Cub and Flower. Total review for Cub but wanted to get it down and feel the mastery. The DVD's make the difference. Flower loved it. Which surprised me because she snapped and snarled over LC. Whatev. My big goal is to at least get through FFI and see how far into First Form II we get before fall.
The kids listened to Wulf the Saxon (G.H. Henty) CD, told by Jim Weiss this week- a gift from the imitable Mr. Weiss, whom we met at the convention. I told him a post-fire story in which SOTW CD's, read by him, brought my younger kids great comfort in a time that was very disruptive. He blessed Flower with Wulf, and even signed the case. She was already a huge fan before last week-end but now she's in the fan for life club. Say what you will about Henty- formulaic, even racist, the man was a wordsmith, story teller and extraordinary story-teller.
Flower's reading Augustus Cesar's World by Genevieve Foster, Cub finished the first 3 of the Kingdom Series by Chuck Black
Feeche is finishing up the college classes he took this semester and is ready to roll back into his rocking landscaping job. Cub landed a p.t. position on the maintenance crew so they will be busy boys with biceps this summer.
Drama Camp is performing Joesph and the Techni-color Dream Coat. LOVE. And Shakespeare Camp this year is As You Like It. Double Love. My 14 year old is doubly happy.
  Thank-you, Caitilin and Ana and Julie and Nancy!


It's been non-stop around here. I think tomorrow will be the first day with only 1 think planned-instead of the day scheduled - in almost a month. Which would be good because I could use a mental break. If you have one and need some good reading, check out these great blog sites (I'm guest blogging or mentioned on them : ). Also, I hope you had a chance to read my series, The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling (WWG2HS). My plan is to get part 5 done today- a week late, but still!
Linky Love! 
Have you checked out the Homeschool Leadership Podcast? Tons of topics!!
The Ultimate Guide to Classical Curriculum by Aspired Living- Fantastic list!
Homeschool Moms Share Favorite Science Curriculum - a wonderful list of all things science
Sandbox to Socrates has a great series going on "Why Classical"

Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling Blog Series

Recent Reviews
Tons more to come: The Grammar of Poetry with DVD, Roman Roads Media- the Greeks, Artistic Pursuits, Apologia, Maestro Classics and more. I can't wait to tell you about some of these!

Art Love
We totally miss having our brilliant artist friends, Jannell and Ana, teaching art at co-op, even as much as we totally love Amanda (which we do!).
Easter nests by Jannell. Total LOVE. Ohmygosh, and check out the adorable ant cups! Do you see why we miss her?!
Easter week-end. 
We are going to a Peasch Celebration tonight, a Messianic Service tomorrow and then church on Sunday. The kids still want Easter baskets and an egg hunt- because, you know, it's like a combo logic/maze/scavenger hunt. Flower wants to do it at night and use the Egglo Eggs.
Wishing each of you a joyous Easter!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Lake Superior Love

Took a little road trip last week-end with Flower to a huge homeschooling convention to help out some desperate IEW homies.  Of course, my brand new power cord died so I was without electronic communication- including my camera (sacrilege!) for most of the duration.

I did find a new power cord on the last day and Flower managed to capture one of the huge liners, parked across the lot from our van. Loved the lake; completely captivating! Loved the hilly terrain. LOVED the trees. My deciduous loving heart was doing the "home" call and response. 

And yet, Sunday we drove, back across prairie- bleak and brown- with snow- an insult in April, I might add, to home. 

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Curiosity Quest- TOS Review

Curiosity Quest  is a fun, award winning company that produces high quality DVD's that bring the world to your living room. 
We received two DVD combo packs that taught us about Orange, Mushroom and Cranberry production as well as Sea Turtle Rescue, Salmons and Penguins. 

(Mushrooms, Cranberries, Orange Packing)   

(Sea Turtle Rescue, Penguins, Salmon)

These are bright, engaging, visually stimulating DVD's that show what the world is like beyond where you live. My kids have always loved anything remotely related to animals and the programs on Sea Turtles and Penguins was fascinating. Who knew that there were Sea Turtle Rescue Missions? You'll learn fun facts about beautiful creatures that will get you wanting to know more. We see grown and baby snappers each spring in our neck of the woods and the kids had a great time comparing our turtles to Sea Turtles.
Curiosity Quest Review
The DVD on Orange and Cranberry Production was equally fascinating. I love learning how things are grown and produced and this DVD will give you and up-close and personal look at two industries you might not have thought much about until now. The videography is terrific and the interviews are fun and familiar. You really get a sense of being talked to and included. 
My kids, aged 14 and 10 watched these with me. Actually, they watched the food production one alone and loved it so much that they really wanted me to watch it with them. I've been hearing about oranges and mushrooms since, which I love. This was an engaging and fun way to think about topics that we might not otherwise have even considered. 
Our only criticism of the films were the cheesy, "kid on the street" interviews that were intermittently shown throughout. Kids were randomly asked questions about things introduced in the program and the responses varied from silly to stupid. My kids didn't enjoy that portion and simply skipped through. Definitely NOT a show-stopper. We loved these DVD's. A great introduction to a unit on animals or nutrition, or general science. A wonderful addition to any co-op as well. 
The host Joel Green is fun and engaging, drawing in both the people he is interviewing as well as the audience. 
To be totally honest, I love stuff like this; information that takes us beyond our own world and perspective, that is visually stimulating and that gets us thinking about the "common" things in our lives that we might otherwise take for granted. I mean, we buy mushrooms at the grocery almost weekly, but now we know where they came from and appreciate how they got to us. Love that.
There are tons of titles to choose and Curiosity Quest  has a neat monthly subscription club  that brings you fun information monthly. Price ranges vary depending on the package.

 This is geared towards children ages 7-14, but perfect for the curious of any age.

Click to read Crew Reviews

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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling - Inventory

"People cannot be managed. Inventories can be managed, but people must be led" #lead4growth #quote #leadership
Inventory - an itemized list of current assets.

When you change roles, or add new ones, it can be helpful to define and inventory all of the areas of responsibility. As Moms it's way too easy to just continue adding roles and responsibilities, thinking it's easier to do it all ourselves, or it's not the kids' problem, or dh is already too busy. That will quickly lead to burn-out, resentment, dropped balls and break-downs. You can't do it all.

Areas of Responsibility:
Work, Home, Home Schooling, Self

Work: You know your specific roles for work: Biz Owner, contractor, manager, employee, teacher, doctor, waitress- with all that entails- uniform, professional licensing and appearance, transportation, tools, etc. If you have set times and places for work, all the better. If you work from home, you need to create space- both physical and time-wise so that work stays contained. Setting regular office and phone hours will help create space and time for other things.

Home- Home roles are best negotiated with your Significant Other and any other people who works/live with you; Regular, weekly and monthly chores such as loading and unloading the dishwasher, paying the bills, taking care of the car and taxes, laundry, shopping, cooking, clean-up, etc. In our home, the kids have regular jobs and weekly jobs. Who does what when. The more this is managed, the less stressful. For instance, if laundry is kept up no one is shuffling through a the dirty clothes pile looking for shirts and socks. Every one's level of comfort is different. I really abhor a dirty bathroom but can't be bothered to dust often. Define your "bug" list (you know, the things that bug you), decide what bugs you most and manage that first.

Home Schooling - curriculum and activity research, purchasing, scheduling, implementing, transcribing if necessary. Out-sourced classes and activities. Who pays when, who transports, who manages homework and answers questions and keeps the kids on task. When you are working and homeschooling, the tendency is to fit homeschooling in wherever it fits. It's helped my kids to try to continue with the pre-established routine as much as possible. They want to have times when they don't have homeschooling hanging over their head and they have real free time to hang out side, play with kittens and read whatever the choose. I've had to set boundaries on myself because my tendency is to try to fit in one more thing.

Self - physical, mental, spiritual, social. This is the area that always seems to get short-changed. Make time and space in your life to do things that care for yourself- physical exercise, spiritual discipline, mental stimulation-beyond your work life and some kind of social outlet beyond mere social obligation. This always seems to be the areas to get short-changed so be intentional and focused on how you are going to care for your-self. You know the crashing airplane story, right?  Give yourself oxygen first so that you can save the lives of others. You are no good to anybody dead.


There are ledgers for your time and energy. What you expend for one thing is no longer available for something else. We don't have to do it all, or apologize for having limits. In fact, it's healthier is we set limits on ourselves and others demand for our time and attention. The jobs I've had this year have deeply curtailed any reading time I've had so for the first time in 4 years I haven't read a book a week. In fact, I haven't finished a book this year yet!  Last year, we didn't plant a garden. A the end of this semester we will seriously re-evaluate some of the groups we've belonged to. Frankly, there needs to be a high enough return in areas to make them worth investing in.

What things can you get rid of or outsource? Homeschooling might be the easiest thing to outsource: Co-op for us has always been a good investment because my kid have gotten quality art and choral, along with a unit study once a week. Some of the on-line classes we've taken have been phenomenal investments of time and money, not to mention great training for the kids in classroom behavior and expectations. Some of the DVD courses that we've invested in have been world class (Roman Roads Media). I am not of the opinion that homeschooling means you teach every.single.thing.

Housework- I've always believed that if you live in a house, you are partly responsible for cleaning it and contributing. Everyone helps with laundry, kitchen, laundry, yard work, re-build projects. If I could afford it, I'd hire a maid once a month or at least once a quarter. I love clean but I hate cleaning. Seriously, who wouldn't rather read a book?!

Work- Tim Ferris in The Four Hour Work Week made some excellent points about virtual assistants. They might actually be worth the money, so it's something to investigate if your job justifies it. Make use of planner apps and docs. I have fallen in love with dropbox this year; such an easy way to share and save info from anywhere.

I haven't really found anyone to effectively work-out for me yet, but personal trainers abound and books on tape get book read, even if not by you.

Inventory is on-going but easy at obvious points of evaluation- for work, during reviews, for homeschool, at the end of semesters, or year end.

Call to Action
Inventory your ares of responsbility
Determine 4 things that you can outsource or delegate.

Be sure to stop by my fellow Crewbies for some more great reading this week.
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Planning Your Homeschool Year
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings ~ Family Friendly Finger Food
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling
Also be sure to head over to Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see what all 60 of my fellow crew members are blogging about this week for their 5 day blog hop!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Victus Study Skills -TOS Review

Victus Study Skills Review
We recently had the opportunity to review the Victus Study Skills System and used the  Student Workbook and Teacher Edition. You know I love Dorothy Sayers, and anything with a quote by her on the front cover, is almost a shoe in for me:

"For the sole true end of education is simply this:
To teach men how to learn for themselves;
and whatever instruction fails to do this is an effort spent in vain."
The ability is something we expect from every student. Often, however, we fail to take time to teach the actual skills required in order to be an effective student. In fact, maybe you aren't even aware that there are tools that you can learn and teach in order to really rock at studying.

Victus Study Skills System  delivers an explicit system that allows the student to own the ability to study. Regardless of whether something is a favorite or dreaded subject, their is genuine interest or genuine boredom exhibited, by the time the student completes this course, they will have the skills to be an effective student in any area.
Victus Study Skills Review

We received both the Student Workbook and Teacher Edition. Cub and I worked through the books together. The Student workbook is a slim, unobtrusive 68 page comb bound volume. The Teacher is a bit thicker, with tons of resources.

There are 3 areas covered in this study skills system:
Where is the student now,
where does the student want to be and
how does the student get there.

Where am I now is an inventory that covers current study skills and learning styles. Cub is a solid visual learner, but what surprised me was that he scored highest on kinesthetic learning. He is my fiddler

Where does the student want to be covers mission statement, goals/priorities,

How does the student get there covers time management, study environment, the PQRST system, note-taking, test prep and study skills.

In the Teacher Edition you'll find an Introduction the the Philosophy behind the program,
Section 1- Teacher Instructions,
Section 2- Lessons for the 3 areas stated above, delivered over 10 lessons. Each lesson includes a Purpose, Preparation and Procedure.
Section 3 is the Appendix and In addition there is an appendix with great resources such as organizational systems, time management assessments, mnemonic devices and more.  Comprehensive information to round out and deliver a complete lesson with very little teach prep time.

This is a comprehensive and excellent study skills program. It is recommended for students 5th grade and up. Cut is a rising 8th grader and found some of the material just "beyond" him. For instance, creating a mission statement 5 years ago, now, 5 years from now and 10 years from now simply left him puzzled. 5 years ago he was 9 and his mission was simply to get outside to play as quickly as possible. Some of the questions are more appropriate for older students with more life-experience and age appropriate clarity of the future. It's easy to go quickly over areas that might not be applicable and get to the areas that will be meaningful to every student; for instance, organization, study skills and time management.

This would be an excellent program to do individually or with a small group, for adult learners returning to school or for students of all ages who aren't clear about how to study.

I recommend every student entering high school take a study skills program. There are several on the market. Victus Study Skills System  is one of the best- simple, straightforward and comprehensive.

Teacher's Edition Physical Copy $40.00
Student Workbook Physical Copy $20.00

You can find Victus Study Skills System on Facebook and Twitter:
Twitter: @VictusStudy

Click to read Crew Reviews
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@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling- Flow, Grow and Tools
I've written before about how I like to over plan for school- knowingly planning too much stuff at the outset and then when school hits going with the flow. This requires that I know what I'm doing- that I have my budget decided upon, I know where to acquire things from, have my curriculum, books and supplies gathered, my support in place (co-ops, class days, outsourcing) my books binned and carted, my CD's in their basket- in other words, stuff ready to roll.
At this point, homeschooling is not difficult work for me. It's been my vocation for a couple of decades, I've written a Master's thesis about it, spoken about it, blogged about it, started class-days, co-ops and Mom's groups- it's what I've done. I love education, I love kids, I love teaching. The only thing missing is money and more time.
Enter the working world. I'm currently working in a job that uses my degrees, is challenging, boasts a terrific corporate culture and compensates well. But I haven't been in the working world for awhile. Yes, I'm fairly familiar with computers but I'm the farthest thing from a computer nerd and so I've been on a bit of a learning curve of late. My job isn't IN computers but my job is possible because of computers.
Maybe you are on that same learning curve. Maybe you've been a working Mom and just brought your kids home to school. Or like me, you've homeschooled long enough to have your favorite curriculum catalogs and your routine is so established it s a no-brainer,  but you are now returning to work. Either way, you are growing. Growing is good. But like my 14 year old exhibits daily, it requires extra calories that are nutritious, more sleep than normal and plenty of fresh air and time to mull. Even with all of that, growing pains  and occasional break-downs are still just part of the routine. Growth is challenging. Growth also messes up our established routines and habits. We have undergone a massive transition this year. Our established routines are dis-established. Our habits are out of whack. We are in transition as we re-evaluate what is working and not working. We haven't don't much "flow" this year and we have realized that some of the tools that have been wonderful in the past just don't fit anymore.
Here's my advice. Be nice to yourself. Be gentle as you learn the ropes of either your job or of how to homeschool. It's O.K. not to know everything, to make mistakes, to ask questions. My supervisor gave me a great gift by telling that she expected me to be asking questions for at least a year. Pshew. What a relief. And as much as I hate to do it- having gained some mastery in an area or two over the years, the fact of the matter is that at certain things I'm a newbie. And I'm discovering whole new areas in which I'm challenged and I have to ask questions, make mistakes and admit I've messed up. So not my favorite thing to do. But necessary if I'm going to learn the job and have the ability to do it well.
To keep growing we have to find the experts in the areas we want to grow. Not everyone who claims to be an expert is. Not everyone speaking publicly or publishing books is either. Have discernment and choose people in the areas you need to grow in - while I've read many, many books on education, there are some I just wouldn't recommend to anyone. 
Like the chart at the top states, eliminate distractions and gather your tools. For me, this meant purchasing a new computer. For you it might mean buying a 3-hole punch or a printer, or a camera, or going to a conference, or making time to listen to MP3's of great homeschooling leaders. One of the greatest lessons I learned during our house rebuild was this: Set up and tear down often take as long as the actual task. The correct tools can make the difference between success and not happening.
I know not everyone is in the position to buy a new computer. Frankly, we looked at it as an investment. I couldn't do the job without it and it will make the time I'm at work infinitely more efficient.

Eliminating distractions has been more difficult. While I love our first floor open floor plan, working out of it is not very time efficient. Mainly because there are a zillion distractions. Growing often means learning how to manage distractions.
For investment's sake I treat homeschooling pedagogy and curriculum from an eliminate the distractions pove- the classical method simplifies most everything imho. We invest in non-consumables, simple and effective curriculum that does what it says it's going to to do, without costing a fortune. Distractions in the homeshcool world include but are not limited to the siren song of Look, you don't have to try out stuff just because someone else says it's good or it works for their kid. My 14 year old does not and will not enjoy activity books or lap books, period. Investing in curriculum like that for him is a distraction and causes us both to suffer.
Gather your (management) tools. Evernote and Google Doc seem to be the tools of choice for a whole lot of Working Homeshcoolers. There's apps and daytimers and wall calendars. The important thing is to get something that works for you and use it. I like the thought of on-line apps but at heart I'm a paper and pencil gal and still need a calendar to write in. On Day #1 I talked about "Knowing Yourself." Know which tools will work for you.  Just like the best curriculum is that which you take down off the shelf and use, so too the best planning tools are the ones that you utilize. Management tools for our homeschool are simple- a list for each kid outlining their curriculum, coded by text, workbook, CD, MP3, PDF, on-line, etc. Train them to use the list. Ka-bam.

Call to Action
Inventory 3 areas you need to grow in and set SMART goals.
Identify 3 distractions to work and homeschool and set SMART goals to eliminate them.
Research 3 tools that would make your work and homeshcool more effective. Determine how to aquire them.

Be sure to stop by my fellow Crewbies for some more great reading this week.
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Planning Your Homeschool Year
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings ~ Family Friendly Finger Food
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Also be sure to head over to Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see what all 60 of my fellow crew members are blogging about this week for their 5 day blog hop!

@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling Day- #2 Your Compelling Reason

Today's post in the series
The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling
has to do with defining your compelling reason.

Getting Things Done When There is Too Much To Do and Only ONE of YOU.
get things done - be decisive -
The biggest challenge working women have are in the areas of Time and Energy. There isn't enough of either one. If you homeschool AND work, you probably have less time than ever. Of course the best way to handle time challenges is to know why you are doing what you are doing and then make a plan and work your plan. In chatting with other homeschooling Moms who also work, by far the #1 challenge, is, as a friend says, "Managing Me."
focus, time management, delegate
And that's really the crux of making the whole thing work- the whole thing being staying healthy and save, keeping your job and educating your children. YOU are a resource, with limited time, energy and creativity and if you don't manage yourself, something will lose out. But let me take a load off from the get-go: something will lose out anyway, you won't get everything done, and you'll just have to let some things go.

Here's the real deal.  Educating your children is a job. You can outsource it, do it yourself or a combination thereof, but anyone who says it's free and easy is trying to justify or sell you something. How and where you educate your kids is one of the biggest parenting decisions you will make.

If you work you obviously have a job. Last time I looked 1 job + 1 job = 2 jobs. So, there you go. You are busy; very busy because you have not one, but two jobs. Congralations, you now qualify for Wonder Woman.

I am assuming that if you are undertaking the arduous task of managing 2 Jobs, you have a

Compelling Reason.

Are you clear about what it is? 
Write the vision and make it plain.
Personally, if  I don't write important things down and see it I'll forget all about them. . Then when the going gets tough (which it will, guaranteed) you can read your compelling reason and rest assured in your good choices. Or wonder at them, pray, wrestle and make different ones. Either way, it's a starting place and you need one, if you are going to successfully navigate the choppy waters of too much to do and not enough time to do it in. 
Your compelling reason is going to help you get and stay focused.
Compelling reasons can include but are not limited to social, emotional, spiritual, academic, physical, and familial concerns, among others. Among the working homeshcooling moms that I talked to in preparation for this series some of the compelling reasons were; their child was being bullied to the point of physical harm, their child was so depressed in school they had a suicide plan, their child has special academic needs better met at home, their child had health issues, they wanted better academics for their kids than the school provided, their child was very involved in a sport or artistic endeavor that took hours of training each day, their child was gifted or special needs or 2E, the family traveled for work, the family wanted more time together, Common Core implementation, etc. In other words, your compelling reason is going to be as unique and individual as you and your family is. Nevertheless, know what it is.

Our compelling reason is this:
Education is the transmission of culture.
I don't see the public (or often private, with a few exceptions) school system transmitting of culture of Christ, Truth and beauty. That's a deal breaker for us so we homeschool.

Once you have a compelling reason, you are going to want to focus the time and energy that you do have. If I get up earlier than everyone else and knock out 2-3 hours of work before breakfast, I can get about as much done as if I try to work during the entire morning while everyone is getting breakfast, milling about and grabbing my attention for math and to chat about whatever is on the news or in their reading. Multi- tasking is not effective and for me, simply means I waste more time and lose track of my notes. Not good in a detailed job that has seasons of extreme busyness.

How to stay focused at work, in order to truly maximize your time? As one of the gals mentioned when questioned:
"I keep schedule after schedule after schedule. And I work in routines. We always follow the same routines for school and for activities and for bedtime. And I follow the same routines for my working."
Find a planning format and routine that works for you and use it. Work and school habits also make life function much more smoothly.
In order to stay focused at work, especially as one of those people who has the privilege and distraction of working at home, my kids and I have had to become more flexible in how and when we do school. I written for years about the importance of quality "helpers" in your homeschool- CD's, DVD's, MP3's, on-line classes, computer classes, co-ops and class-days. On crazy busy days, my kids might listen to more school than they've read about. Or you might find us doing Spelling at 5:30 instead of in the morning, like we used to.

Here's how school is focused: A Master List for each kid with thier school work listed.
A Basket of CD's, DVD's; a Library Cart of school books and worktexts, a bin of memory cards, a flash-drive with MP3's and PDF downloads, a computer with log-ins and passwords in the memory.
If I'm working, the kids know that they can go to the list and pick something else. If I can't help them, they move on to the next thing they can do. If there's nothing else, they read, or they have free time to roam outside, create something, play with kittens, mull, write or read. Don't underestimate the importance of "free time" and "free play"- kids need time and space to just "be."

For those who are working outside of the home, this presents it's own unique set of problems in managing Homeshcool. Some moms have hired Nanny's who do the schoolwork, others have significant other's or in-laws who manage school, others work swing shifts and probably all of us don't sleep as much as we'd like.

Call to Action:
Define your compelling reasons to homeschool.
Define your compelling reasons to work.
Define 3 areas that require focus and create action steps to make your focus more effective.

I'd love to hear from you. What are your compelling reasons for Homeschooling while working. How do you stay focused at Work and at Home?

Be sure to stop by my fellow Crewbies for some more great reading this week.
Kathy @ Kathys Cluttered Mind ~ Fieldtripping Fun
Leah @ As We Walk Along the Road ~ Great Kids Reads
Shalynne @ Wonderfully Chaotic ~ Birth and Babies
Lisa Marie @ The Canadian Homeschooler ~ Canadian Teachers Pay Teachers Stores
Kemi @ Homemaking Organized ~ Homekeeping for Girls and Boys
Heather @ Only Passionate Curiosity ~ Planning Your Homeschool Year
Nikki @ Angels of Heart ~ Easter: The Cross for Preschoolers
Jenn @ Treasuring Life's Blessings ~ Family Friendly Finger Food
Lisa @ Golden Grasses ~ The Working Woman's Guide to Homeschooling

Also be sure to head over to Schoolhouse Review Crew Blog to see what all 60 of my fellow crew members are blogging about this week for their 5 day blog hop!
@Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!