Sunday, December 20, 2015

15 Sneak Peeks into our Homeschool Life

 While we have a big house for the number of people actually living in it and could easily have a dedicated space to homeschool in, we always migrate to our open first floor- combo office/living room/dining room/kitchen. We still use our trusty library cart and make frequent visits to the library.
I have written hundreds of curriculum and book reviews over the past couple of years, both independently and with the imitable TOS Review Crew. I loved every minute of it, but different seasons make different demands and I literally ran out of time. We have super simplified what we do and how we do it and have divested our home and bookshelves of extraneous curriculum and resources. It's way easier to dust now.
We homeschool classically. Classical Conversations makes homeschooling classically that much more do-able and we love our CC Community, the friends, accountability, great discussion and more!

We are all closet artists. This fall Feeche took part in NaNoWriMo (even in the midst of college classes), Cub is constantly creating weaponry and drawing and Flower is in a clay phase. Art books, building and drawing materials are always part of what we do.

Dr. Dh is very involved in our homeschool in a non-traditional way; constantly showing the kids cool info on the NASA and NOAA web-sites, talking with them about politics and theology and showing them cool archaeological dig sites like this one in Israel.

We've homeschooled for over a quarter of a century in 4 different states (Pacific coast, Midwest, Southwest, and upper Northwest) and graduated 3 kids so far. Does it get old? No. The key? Keep up the challenge. When I'm not inspired, they're not inspired. That's why I look for amazing programs, like CC and TeenPact, amazing companies like Circe, Memoria Press and Roman Roads Media and Master Teachers like Wes Callihan and Jim Nance. Learning all the time, baby. That's our motto.
We homeschool for a couple of different reasons which include academic, theological and social.I wrote a Master's Thesis on homeschooling and the American Educational system.

I've started class days, co-ops, camps, brought TeenPact to our State and worked several jobs, both paid and volunteer, while homeschooling. I currently work from home for an educational company on the east coast that works with homeschoolers around the world, It's kind of a sweet gig.

I've chronicled the last 8 years of our homeschooling on this blog. If you are looking for info on homeschooling high school, homeschooling classically, homeschooling multiple kids in multiple stages and ages, you've come to the right place.
Blogging has been a great opportunity! I've met friends from around the world, been entrusted with scores of products, books and curriculas to review, honed my writing skills, and landed a job or two.

Our family lives in an area that has amazing drama opportunities for homeschoolers. My kids participate in Tantara (Festival of One Act Plays) each Jan, Drama Camp each June and Shakespeare Camp each July. They have also participated in TP's Political Communications Class and Poetry Outloud. They are all adroit at public performance.

We are all bibliophiles.  Books are just part of our lives and we give and share books cause you gotta breathe and read. Got to do it.

I have a planner and a plan. Once it's written down, I might actually lose the plan on paper, but it's in my head. I over plan and then go with the flow. It's kind of a hybrid classical/unschooling approach to life.

We are gardeners. We like gardens, plants on the porch and pots in the house during winter. Growing things make us happy. Flower has big plans for a Straw Bale garden this summer, and the straw is already safely stored in the shed, waiting for spring.
We have been busy re-storing a neglected 90+ year old homestead on the Territories and putting together our old 4x4 Farmhouse since we were burned out by a house fire 6 years ago. It's crazy to think that it was 6 years ago already. We've been busy building, reading, homeschooling, restoring ever since! About 2 years ago, Dr.Dh and I switched gears mentally and decided that we were no longer still re-building from the house fire, we were reclaiming an old farmstead. This gave us some mental space to live and re-build. And, the house does look amazing. There's just still a zillion a few unfinished projects. 
We are DIYers. We've actually enjoyed (mostly) the house re-build and take on more projects than we really have time for.

I don't have easy answers for homeschooling. 
There is no "If you do this, you will get this outcome" formula that works.
 If you use X curriculum, some kids will love it and some will hate it and some will ignore it. 
If you use X parenting technique some kids will thrive, some will crump and some will ignore it. 
If you read a zillion books to your kids you will have some passionate readers, some blase readers and some readers who do so for info only. At least, one hopes, they'll be literate. 
If you homeschool for academics you may have academic kids. You may not.
If you homeschool for God, you may have Godly kids. You may not. 
If you homeschool for the freedom it affords, you may have kids who value and embrace freedom. You may not. 

So, why invest in something that may or may not pay off? 
We are being faithful in doing what we believe God has called us to do. 
The outcome is His. 

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

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Challenge Blue Book Exams

Last Tuesday was the last day of the first semester of Challenge. Cub had a 5 minute presentation on Padua (the city where Taming of the Shrew took place) and talked from a 6 page timeline that started with the Ancient World and ended with now. Apparently, Padua is one of those cities that's been around for a while. Who knew?

Both kids had Challenge Blue Book exams. For Challenge A this included drawing the entire Western Hemisphere, countries and capitals, bodies of water and features, by heart. Instead of multiple choices, fill in the blanks, Blue Books ask the kids to think critically about all that they've learned this semester, utilizing tools such as the 5 Common Topics, ANI charts, Have/Are/Do charts, Declension charts  (we are chart happy, baby!),Math Laws and Formulas, memorized vocabulary from Latin, Geography and Rhetoric and finally, integrating subject areas.
But look at all of those happy faces! This picture was taken AFTER Blue Books and Challenge 1 end of semester projects. These 17 kids are thriving in an academic community that fosters critical, Godly thinking; fun, Godly fellowship and a classical foundation. They are learning How to Think and What to Do. It's so fun to be part of it all!

The test is over, the food is served and the games began!
We ate, laughed, told jokes, took goofy pictures with photo props, exchanged presents and played Apples to Apples. My sweet kiddos and parents gave me gifts, cards and family pictures. I treasure each one.
Can you spot the Latin Grammar Rules in the above present I received?! (dontcha' love it?!)
As a first time Challenge Director, I wrote our Blue Book Exams. I modified a couple of BB Exam samples that were generously shared with me by other Challenge Directors and the example on the portal. Having given the exams a quick glance I would say that most of the kids did very well. By far, the majority of our kids are first, maybe second time Classical Conversations students. and so they are still acclimating to vocabulary (decline the nouns by gender, number and case), etc. My goal for our first BB Exam was to reassure everyone that they could DO the Blue Book exam, that they know more than they think they know. and that they would all live through the experience! The next BB Exam will be easier for everyone because we all know what to expect, and have another semester of good studying and learning under our belts!

Next semester, coming right up. Good-bye declension, hello verbs!

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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Do You See What I See?

Do you see? 
The WalMart world of dirty floors and cheap plastic and people who walk around in slippers with their pants falling off?
Their teeth, and families and lives broken and worn by cares and worries they can't manage.
Do you smell the thick haze of stale tobacco and heart-ache as they breathe in your face, their cynical, bitterness barely disguising their panic, causing you to gag,

Do you see ?
 The beautiful people whose lives consist of selfies and whatever they can grab on their way out. The sun-glassed, glossed and tanned hipsters with their tats and pierced cartilage and pierced hearts.
They promise everything and deliver nothing; using you and enslaving your children to feed their souls and pocketbooks.
They'll take all that you have and leave you for dead. Do you see their heart of corruption and feel the death of usury?

Do you see?
The family that is broken. everyone gone their separate ways, the love and sacrifice and laughter forgotten and mocked. Hardened hearts and hurt fed by lies and rumors and gossip and the bitter relative who didn't get their own way. They leave you broken and battered, smug with self-satisfaction.

Do you see the putrid stench and quivering rot and dirty filth that permeates everything?
It's disgusting. Really. 

Way off. There in the distance. There's a pin-point of light.
Do you see it?  The light. A path. A narrow way?
I look and see and the light compels me. The path is clear. I follow. 
And the light becomes bigger, blinding. My fears and prejudices and despair and haughtiness are burned away.
I want only what's ahead.
The smell of rottenness is replaced by clover and hay, the clean smell of sheep and scratchy wool. 

That light, it leads to a humble place where the lowly live. The rush and pushing and striving are gone.
 It's just the shepherds and the sheep and the hay. 
And there, amidst the light that makes all things clear, is a place of peace.
There is a man and a woman, young and strong, and a baby.
Innocent and sweet, he smells of fresh hay and hope. 

And I look at Him and see. 
And he sees me.
He is a baby, young and innocent, but also old and wise.
He is Wonderful, Counselor, Almighty God, the Everlasting Father, 
the Prince of Peace.

Do you see? Do you see who has come? 
God with us. 

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder’s den. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. ~Isaiah 11:6-9 @Golden Grasses 2008-2013. All photographs, artwork and text are the property of the owner unless otherwise stated. Don't miss a thing! Subscribe to Golden Grasses and get our articles right to your inbox!

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Plugging Away

We have had a super busy, intense, hard work U kind of fall. It's been great. It's been fun. And this coming week the kids have Blue Book exams- the CC Challenge equivalent to end of semester tests. Except they are not multiple guess, teach to the test kind of tests. They are utilizing tools (Topic Wheels, ANI charts, Have/Are/Do charts), drawing from Memory Work (Latin, Catechism's, Geography terms and maps) and asking the kids to integrate and talk about what they've learned.

It's super cool, a bit intimidating and totally classical.

We've spent the past week getting ready, as much as one possibly can. In other words, drill and kill, baby. Should've been my middle name. We've drilled Latin vocab, forms and grammar. We've drilled Catechism charts to the point that the older boys know the definition for The Hopeful Monster Theory, et al and have made every kind of fun of it, and have drawn map after Western Hemisphere map in prep for drawing the whole thing from Memory early this week, including Prime Meridians, Tropics of Cancer, bodies of water and features, along with capitals and countries.
And that's just for the 7th grader.

The 9th grader has been busy, ohsobusy, researching Padua- the city where The Taming of the Shrew took place, in order to write a paper and do a 5 minute presentation. I typed it for him, so he could get other stuff, like another formal Science Lab written up, and boy howdy, Padua is a cool little ancient city that's had a lot going on over the years. Listening to Ravi Z's sermon on I, Isaac, Take Thee Rebecca, this semester, solidified Ravi Z's place for Cub as one of the current greats of the faith. Love his preaching/teaching!

In the midst of it all we've been wrapping presents to send, buying presents for under the tree, putting up even more lights (because Dr Dh is obsessed passionate about making it shine in our valley) and getting ready for the annual Christmas Craft Party at our sweet friend and remarkable crafter Jannell's, and making ornaments and photo booth props for our end of semester Challenge party.

For fun this week, while all three kids were procrastinating, including College Man, they divided up the world- map, Risk-style, fighting over countries and making trades, arguing about the viability of the countries resources, geography and politics. Love that. 

@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!