Saturday, December 31, 2016

Setting the Stage - the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair

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The 2017 VCF Party! 

Susan of Homeschooling Hearts and Minds is, once again, hosting the Virtual Curriculum Fair. Make sure you make it over to her blog, as well as checking out the other 26 participating bloggers, with over 287 combined years of homeschooling experience! We have all homeschooled for various amounts of time with large families and small, in cities and in the country, with small budgets and large. Find out more by checking out my intro to the 2017 VCF post.
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Our family has homeschooled for 25 years- which would make me old, if I weren't in denial. It's been an interesting journey, taking us through 4 states, 5 kids, a few graduate degrees, 3 graduations, on-line classes, co-ops field trips galore and a zillion books.

How to educated one's kids is one of the most important questions a parent will answer- if they take the time to intentionally ask the question. After all these years, I still believe in homeschooling- the freedom it affords, the opportunity for academic excellence, the hope of individualized, customized education for our kids. I am way past the point of idealizing homeschooling- it's not a panacea, it's not gonna save anyone, it does not guarantee outcomes such as brilliant, kind, Godly kids who have a vision or passion or even a job. It's just a tool. But still an excellent one if wielded with a vision and a purpose.
We are classical educators. This is a bit of a switch from the first 10 years of our homeschooling career, when we took more of a Literature based approach. While I love literature of all kinds, the Literature approach is an overview approach and at the end of the day, the kids are often not sure of what they've learned  (and often, neither are the parents). One of the reasons we switched our focus to classical ed is because it is a mastery approach. My kids know what they know. We love the classical pedagogy for many reasons- it emphasizes skills, teaches how to think, how to learn, demands more, delivers more; it is simple (and cheaper!) in the long run and builds on a child's natural development. I love teaching classically, learning classically and sharing about the beauties of classical education!

We are still homeschooling our youngest two, who will soon turn 17 and 14,  and are in grades 8th and 11th, utilizing Classical Conversations Challenge program. It is content and project dense, creates positive peer pressure and teaches the kids how to manage their time and energies in a way that is focused and productive. Each year the kids have 6 Seminars: Logic, Research, Exposition and Composition, Latin, Debate and Rhetoric; covering Math Science, Writing and Literature, Latin, Apologetics, Debate, Rhetoric Skills, Western Civilization and much more.  Is CC all that our kids do? Are they drowning in stiff and boring curriculum? Hardly- they are involved in music, karate, ballroom dancing, art projects, odd jobs, camps, drama and they both read voraciously,

How do we get it all done? Each week, after our CC Community Day, we sit down with our planners (recently switched to Bullet Journals) and map out the 
week- including school, projects, church, work, lessons, etc. I try to do at least Latin and Logic with the kids (we use Jim Nance's excellent Intro and Intermediate Logic DVD's) and we do Morning Symposium together most mornings.
Golden Grasses: What's the Big Deal about the 5 Common Topics?:
How do we organize our stuff? We continue to use our trusty Library Cart that we made with plans from Ana White's site, which holds our current school books. We use lap (white) boards and page protectors regularly, for copy/ .memory work.. We also have a "Morning Basket" - literally a basket full of materials we use for Morning Symposium. It is full of our Bible Curriculum, Memoria Press Latin Charts, and Art History Study from Memoria Press.
In one sections of our living room (which is part of our wide-open first floor) sits my workbench desk, loaded down with my Classical Conversations Directing supplies, a color printer, laminator, BuJu stuff, pens, markers and Work stuff ('cause I have a job, too). We have bookshelves throughout the house, lap-tops and kindles. We use all of them, regularly.

While we use and appreciate CC's lay-out of curriculum, and used much of it before joining CC, I am always on the look-out for new and fun curriculum finds. We frequently add in things, like Veritas Press' Art History program, or Memoria Press' Latin National Exam, and I love sharing resources with others. I've reviewed scores of various curricula over the past 8 years of blogging, many with the TOS Review Crew. You can find them under "Curriculum Review" or "TOS Review" tags on my side-bar, or look for specifics in the search box. If you have any questions, please be sure to leave a comment! I love chatting curriculum and developmental ages and stages!
Golden Grasses: Morning Symposium Teen Edition
What's ahead for the Virtual Curriculum Fair? This year, we have 25 bloggers with over  200 years of collective Homeschooling experience writing about curriculum in the following areas:

January 9th---Playing with Words: the Language Arts
January 16th---Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science
January 30th---Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World
January 23rd---Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science

It's going to be a great month of talking alternative education, the amazing resources currently available and how many of our families utilize these resources.  

I invite you to see how my fellow bloggers learn in their homeschools:

The Evolution of Our Homeschool by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Us-School Because We Are Us, Not Someone Else by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
It's All About the School by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Setting the Stage- the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! by Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses
New Year, New Goals, New School! by Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool
Homeschooling - A Glimpse into How We Do it by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Spotlight on How We Learn in Our Homeschool by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
Our Unique Eclectic Homeschool  by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
How We Learn on the Go by Jacquelin @ A Stable Beginning
Home Education - 10 Ways We Make It Work by Lizzy @ Peaches At Home
Schedules, where would I be without them? by Kim @ Good Sweet Love
Education at Our House by Shecki @ Greatly Blessed
Starting the Day Well by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Making a Change - Accountability and Responsibility Through Routine by Lori H @ At Home: where life happens
A time to be encouraged is coming.. the Virtual Curriculum Fair by Annette @ A Net in Time
Loving the Moment! by Jen K @ A Peace of Mind
Keeping Our Homeschool Organized by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Homeschool Goal Setting – Looking Forward, Looking Back by Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset
How We Choose Curriculum by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
This Is How We Homeschool by Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break
How we don't learn in our homeschool & how I don't plan {2017 Virtual Homeschool Curriculum Fair} by Meghan @ Quiet in the Chaos
Learning Our Way by Lisa @ McClanahan 7
Limping Along: Our Semi-Eclectic Approach to Homeschooling by Debra @Footprints in the Butter
2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair: See How We Learn by Dana L @ Luv'N Lambert Life

@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, December 30, 2016

The 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair is About to Start!

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Welcome to the 2017 Virtual Curriculum Fair! I've been part of this party since 2013.Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds is the creator and master-mind behind the VCF, so make sure you stop by her blog and look around.
What exactly IS the VCF? 
It's a month-long blog series/ hop, which starts MONDAY, JANUARY 2, 2017, that includes a twenty-five fantastic homeschooling bloggers, with over 200 collective years of homeschooling experience, bringing you their best curriculum finds, tips and thoughts. These are, deliberately, non-sponsored posts. You aren't being sold something, there is no catch, you are simply get the benefit of these homeschoolers years of experience. The schedule is as follows:
  1. January 2nd---
    See How We Learn/Welcome to the Fair---
    This week we’ll talk about how we get it done, whether it’s due to scheduling and planning or putting your faith in a higher power or somewhere in between. 
  2. January 9th---Playing with Words: the Language Arts---includes phonics, reading, writing, grammar, spelling, speech, literature, etc., etc., etc. Latin and foreign language studies could also go here.   
  3. January 16th---Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science---includes anything to do with mathematics, mathematical thinking, numbers, arithmetic, symbolic logic, critical thinking, and math-y sciences.  
  4. January 23rd---Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science---includes history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology, etc., 
  5. January 30th---Seeking Beauty: the Arts and Everything that Brings Beauty to Our World
The Bloggers 
Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds

Laura H. @ Four Little Penguins

LauraOinAK @ Day by Day in Our World

Lisa N. @ Golden Grasses

Jacquelin C. @ A Stable Beginning

Jennifer King @ A Peace of Mind

Michele Pleasants @ Family, Faith and Fridays

Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory

Amanda H @ Hopkins Homeschool

Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool

Brittney @ Mom's Heart

Kym Thorpe @ Homeschool Coffee Break

Yvie Field @ Gypsy Road

Dana Lambert @ Luv'N Lambert Life

Debra B. @ Footprints in the Butter

Sarah J @ Delivering Grace

Annette @ A Net in Time

Lori H @ At Home: where life happens

Jeniffer @ Thou Shall Not Whine

Lizzy Peach @ Peaches @Home

Meghan W. @ Quiet In The Chaos

Amy L. @ Adorable Chaos

Kristen Hamilton @ Sunrise to Sunset

Kim @ Good Sweet Love

It's going to be a great month of Curriculum Talk!
@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 24, 2016

"Hey! Unto You a Child Is Born!"

We read "The Best Christmas Present Ever," for our last book of the semester. Flower wrote this on her in response to the question, "Discuss the life lessons/ spiritual wisdom you gained through the novels/characters."

"What is on the surface isn't (always) in the depths, "HEY! Unto you a Child is born!" Something that looks like the most scary thing ever can really be something that needs a little Jesus." 

We were talking yesterday, on our way to do an errand, about why some people go to church for the cultural aspect of it alone. How going to church is the only indication that distinguishes them from someone who doesn't. They still talk and act, think and do like most of the rest of the world- i.e. for themselves. They have no missional focus, no sacrificial service, no radical plan or vision. It's just worldly business as usual- another day, another dollar, another way to get by.  Christ is transformative, and if your life doesn't reflect that, than maybe you need a little more Jesus. As we were talking, it struck me, once again, how Christianity is not just a nice idea. It's not a social club, not a "I'll get to it later," not a "my religion," not an option type of thing. It's Truth. And if you deny it, so what. The Master of the Universe will not be un-done simply because you do not acknowledge Him.

We see through a glass darkly, and beyond that is a universe- galaxies - of spiritual Truth that our minds and bodies will need to be made new for before we can even hope to grasp or engage with it. And in that space, the Master of the Universe dwells, still creating galaxies and new life and Transformation.

That being said, getting a little Jesus in your life changes everything-challenges, provokes, divides, defines, and brings about revolutions of one sort or another, It's not for the faint of heart- or else the very act of getting a little Jesus will take our faint hearts and instill in them courage beyond ourselves!

And in light of this, I believe that this little word study by George Grant is totally appropriate: The word "merry" is from an old Anglo-Saxon word which literally meant, "valiant," "Illustrious," "great" or "mighty." Thus, to be merry was not merely to be mirthful, but to be joyously strong and gallant. In Shakespeare we read of fiercely courageous soldiers who were called "merry men." Strong winds were "merry gales." Fine days were marked by "merry weather." So, when we wish one another "Merry Christmas," we are really exhorting one another to take heart and to stand fast

"Hey! Unto You a Child Is Born!"
Merry Christmas! 
Take heart, stand fast, the Savior of the world has come! 
Light has come~light will come again!
Alleluia! @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, December 23, 2016

Deck Everything- with Lights!

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Our house is decked-seriously, 3 full stories - decked in lights, along with the arbor, and several trees. Dr. Dh was drinking egg-nog yesterday morning, gave a happy sigh and said, "I love Christmas." And he does. The lights are his stand, in a world and a job that often focuses on loss and darkness, that the Light conquers, loves and makes all things new.

We are history buffs around here and love timelines and historical comparisons, and Dr Dh and I were talking about the fact that 100 years ago both C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were fighting in the muck and death filled trenches of WWI. And yet out of that misery and tragedy sprang some of the greatest literature of our time.

C.S. Lewis has been a mentor of mine for many years. Narnia has been a true place, if not physically real, for most of my Christian life. It's been a place of hope and rest, where my own weaknesses and shortcomings are not so huge, where Marshwiggles do crazy things, if only for a dream, where even the weak and meek and lost can make a difference and where SomeONE bigger than everyone else speaks life and worlds and renewal into existence. Lewis reminds us that The Deep Magic IS a real thing.

I've had some hard conversations with some of my kids recently about disappointments- with ourselves, other people, the church. Unfulfilled hopes; future that might not happen, a tribe that doesn't exist or show up. It's easy to get burned out and give up. It's easy to focus on what isn't, instead of what could be; veering way off course from True North.

The last several years have been brutally challenging in one way or another, and I understand my kids' grief over what might never transpire in this life-time. But I have to hold fast to Narnia. For my own sanity, because I'm not very good at plugging along for no good reason; for my own salvation and eternity. While I hope young people never have to endure the rat and death invested trenches of WWI again, I am grateful that they drove C.S. Lewis to create the world of Narnia. It gives me a touch-point. A place to remember, even if it exists only in my imagination; that what's to come is the fulfillment of all of our hopes, dreams and desires. We all need a little magic in our lives, and Deep Magic- the real thing-the magic of a Creator King- is far better than false manipulation. For Narnia and for Aslan!

It's Christmas and Hanukkah and the Season of Lights (if you doubt it, just come check out our decorations!) and the celebration of the Light-of-the-World, the Messiah, the One True King.

Glory to God in the Highest Heaven, 
Glory to God! 

@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, November 27, 2016

Shoebox Scientist - Challenge B

Flower's Shoebox on Einstein - complete with Nobel Peace prize medal, tons of great quotes, a warped clock, representing "special relativity," etc.

We are finishing up our first 10 weeks of Scientists and moving on to Science Fair projects. To wrap up this phenomenal study, the kids did "Shoebox Scientists." Each student was assigned a Scientist and had to fill their shoebox with clues- without using a picture of him/her or their name. Their class mates then guessed who they were representing. 

This activity was really fun- fun to put together and fun to evaluate. We invited the Challenge A class to come and guess the scientists, too! 

This was represented Linneaus

Archimedes and "Pi." 

Another favorite of mine was "Morse"- the box contained candy "dots" and a bottle of "Mrs. Dash." (get it- dots and dashes for Morse Code?).
We invited Challenge A to guess alongside of us, as they heard some of our presentations each week. 
Another GREAT project, that was a ton of Fun, brought to you by Challenge B!

@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, November 25, 2016

Blue Ribbon LIst of Homeschool High School Extra-Curriculars

Middle of the year and we are thinking about what's working and what could be switched up. This is our second year of Classical Conversations Challenge program, which we love. It is also full of projects, like Debate, Shoe-box Scientists, Science Fair, Art Grant Proposals and more so it's not like we are necessarily looking for more. But, you know, it's mid-year, right. 'Nuff said, right there.
Will we make big changes mid-year? No, we love CC and both kids are being challenged academically and in other ways. We are also loving our Morning Symposium. We've recently finished The Story of Christianity and will continue our Church History elective with the Acts of the Apostles. But, just 'cause it was a good time to look around the web and brainstorm a bit, here's some terrific articles on High School Electives.
There are several ways to count credits; with a log- 60 hours =1/2 Carnegie Unit (which is 1/2 High School credit); by finishing a typical High School text (Apologia's High School Marine Biology = 1 credit, not including Lab); by doing a compilation of things; like counting a Spine (like the "Joy of Cooking") along with hours in "Lab" preparing, in conjunction with presentation that would add up to 1/2 or full credit in Cooking/Home Ec, etc. You can find out more about Carnegie Units here.

Here's our list of Electives A-Z that we've done over the past quarter century of homeschooling:

Awanas; Apologetics; Animal Care (we have had Guinea Pigs, Fish, Goats, Sheep and a Horse); Art
Boy Scouts; Ballroom Dancing; Blogging; Baking. Brick-laying; Building furniture
Challenge, Church History, Child-development, Church Camp; Chorale; Cooking; Clay Crafts; Campaigning
Drama, Debate; Dry-walling; Duct-tape art
Event Planning; Etiquette
First Form Latin; felting; Farm Helper; Flower Gardening
Girl Scouts (back before it was too weird); Grouting; German
Horseback Riding; Houseplants; Health & Nutrition; History, history and more history
Instagram; Internships (Above Rubies, TeenPact)
Knitting; Karate; Keyboarding
Labs- Chem, Bio, Adv. Bio, Latin National Exam; Landscaping; Lego League; Leadership Institute Workshop
Myths and Legends Lit class; Marine Biology; Musicals; Mission Trips
NASA/NOAA Web-site watching, Novel Writing (check-out NaNoWriMo)
Operation Christmas Child
Piano; Poetry Outloud; Public Speaking; Pottery
Spinning, Soccer, Shakespeare; Singing; Straw-bale gardening
TeenPact; Traveling; Test Prep
Unicycling (not much, actually, but we own one); Ultimate Frisbee (the official sport of TeenPact)
Volleyball; Violin; Voice Lesson;Vegetable Gardening
Web-Design; Woodworking; WWI and WWII studies
Xerxes acumen (Yeah, I could not find a good "X" word, but my kids have done extension Ancient History studies).
Yoga; Youth Group

BJ's list of High School Electives

High School Electives- includes a list of several other bloggers writing on high school electives!

HSLDA's list of Extreme electives

High School Electives for Tech Savvy Teens

10 Fun Electives from Weird Unsocialized Unschoolers

14 Fun (and maybe frugal) Homeschool HighSchool Electives

5 Must Include Electives Types of Electives for your Homeschool High School

Planning High School Ellectives for your Homeschool; including info on credits

Frosting on the Cake: High School Electives, Jobs and College Prepping 

Brigeway Academy- interactive, live-on-line classes, including Science Labs, test prep, Web-design and more

Certificate programs and more Certificate Programs

Khan Academy -Free, on-line courses several of which would be great high school electives.

For Service projects; check out

Don't forget about Dual Enrollment and CLEP possibilities. Our local community boasts a co-op entirely dedicated to CLEP testing. @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, November 24, 2016

WKRP "As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly" Thanksgiving 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 Story of Christianity -Curriculum Review


I am a long-time promoter of Memoria Press everything and we've used/reviewed
Core 6, Christian Studies, Famous Men Series, Lingua Angelica,  The "Form" Series and all things related to Henle Latin. We have gone through the Christian Studies program- which is excellent and includes people, places, scripture memory work, maps, time lines and in-depth analysis. I honestly wish more Sunday School programs were as thorough in the approach to the study of Scripture. 

I've had my eye on the High School Christian Studies programs for a while and we landed on The Story of Christianity this year: The History of 2000 Years of the Christian Faith. I purchased the package comes with a text, Teacher's Manual and Student Manual. 

Every lesson is set up in the same way. There is a section in the Teacher's Manual that sets up each chapter of the book, with highlighted features and background information.  Then you read the chapter in the book by David Hart. 

Hart covers complex concepts and time periods with wit and wisdom. He has an awesome sense of humor, but is never disrespectful or anachronistic. His respect and reverence for the Christian tradition is always evident, but tempered with differentiation between faith in the Master of the Universe and His church on earth. 

At the end of each chapter there are "Questions from Your Reading" as well as "Ideas for Further Thought." The questions are thorough and comprehensive, ranging from historical, "Who called for the first Crusade?" to ecclesiastical, "What was the doctrinal dispute that was most representative of the division between the East and the West."
The "On Your Own" questions are open-ended, thought provoking queries such as,"Which scripture versus could be used to explain substitutiontary atonement?" and "Could another Great Awakening happen in our time?" There are also quizzes and tests with matching short answers.

We started our Morning Symposium with The Story of Christianity and found it to be an engaging way to begin each school day. It is an excellent over-view of Church History, tying together history in a unique way. We finished it just this last week, will continue our study of Church History with The Acts of the Apostles, also by Memoria Press

Acts of the Apostles

Don't forget to sign up for Memoria Press' free magalog: The Classical Teacher. Excellent, thought provoking articles!

@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, November 19, 2016

This Season

So, life these days has been non-stop. Work, Directing Challenge, homeschooling two, a multi-generational household that include an adorable 6 month old distraction, a college student coming and going, laundry, cooking, dishes, managing the stuff from an extra household, furniture from Grandparents and my Gram's estate. Thank-God for a big house with many bedrooms and adequate bathrooms and 4 floors because everyone of them is used- packed to the gills, actually, with people and stuff.
I am missing reading and blogging and writing and crafting and working out and creating something besides records for a data base and Transcripts. Some days desperately missing it as being this old with so little down time is pushing me hard most days.
We have just had one of the most beautiful falls ever, which gave way to a snow storm yesterday. Life is just that seasonal. And one gives way to the other fast enough.

@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, November 1, 2016

OREO Science Fair Prep

Oreos and Science? But of course! Got this great idea from an awesome Challenge B Director. 
The kids loved it! 
We are talking about the upcoming Science Fair and our in-class exercise centered on creating reproducible instructions. Each student was given a zip-lock with 2 Oreo cookies in it and told to create instructions about how to eat the cookie for a class-mate. 
The kids were allowed to eat one cookie as they created the instructions and then passed the 2nd cookie and instructions to a neighbor to see how effective their instructions actually were.
We have some kids in our Challenge class who love a good laugh! The above included eating the chocolate cookie pieces and using the cream filling to create lip gloss. Oy vey.

JR was the lucky recipient of these instructions! 
Big laughs were had by all!! 

@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!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Sam Morse Presentation - Challenge B

The first 10 weeks of Science this year consists of presentations on Famous Scientists.
Queue Sam Morse.

One of his descendants was a neighbor of ours growing up in Ohio. He was a fighter pilot in the A.F. with a picture of good ol' Sam proudly displayed amongst the family photos. 

When I asked Dr. Dh if he had ever made a telegraph machine, or could, he was confident. He is a scientist at heart.
 So, one fine Saturday afternoon found Flower and Dad in the front yard with an odd assortment of stuff, measuring, cutting, crafting, drilling, honing and doing electronic things. (yes, I am the wordsmith, not the scientist).

The end result was not one, but two telegraph machines that "talked" to each other. 
After Flower's great presentation on Samuel Morse, she tapped out:
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Cutest telegraph operator in the west.
Challenge B, and best Dad ever, for the win! 

@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!