Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Favorite Fall Activity

This is an activity that I probably enjoy even more than my children. This simple box was made a few years back when my son still was schooling with us. It's just a simple thin wooden craft box and we got the idea to paint it various shades of green, more with a bristle stencil brush effect, but use real leaves for our stencil patterns. We continue to take it out each fall to use in our studies of leaf/tree classification. In effect over time, it has replaced our need for local area field guides. I still love the Fandex Field Guide, as it seems the most realistic and visual for children as well as adults that have this never ending love of trees.

Consequently, every fall my daughters collect leaves and we some times go on nature walks to find as many varieties as possible. We mount them on large index cards under a special contact paper and then classify them and give facts on the other side of the card. The girls use these for enjoyment as we just simply love to look at them, as well as quizzing one another on facts about them. To me, it has become a special memory and tradition for the season.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Wordless Wedsnesday

Well, almost wordless....I have a hard time with that. This photo shows how fast time goes as it's from 3 Thanksgivings ago. The girls have learned much more since then about Native Americans and the respect they deserve.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Broke My Own 'Lil Home School Rule

I admit it. I was sooo into literature based home education with a mix of Charlotte Mason and Classical Education.......ohhhhh very against sitting a child in front of a computer or dvd program. Well, two weeks ago I went and sprung for Teaching Textbook Math for my grade 7 dear daughter as well as SOS State History for her via computer. I then immediately signed my grade 3 dear daughter up for Big IQ kids, which has four supplemental subjects which includes: spelling, math, vocabulary and geography. I consider the spelling to be her total program for that subject and just add her personalized words to it. The rest is considered for fun or drill work for bad days of mine. We carry on the best we can with other subjects within our philosophy of education.

I did it, and I’m glad about it and have finally tossed out the guilt. I also have a friend that visits periodically to play math/reasoning games with them. My voice hurts, my eyes hurt and I am weary so it is worth it all to keep things going. Fortunate for me, this all arrived in time for a 3 week period of colds creeping around the house and has saved my sanity quite a bit.

It’s an alternate year for us, so I have chosen to set aside our R&S English for a lighter course, but we usually follow than the The Well Trained Mind recommendations. As far as book lists, we pull recommendations from WTM, Real Learning and Ambleside depending on our subjects and interests at the time. For read aloud time, we use a lot of audio books and my husband reads their supplemental living history or science book in the evening.

Incidentally, I also have gone from formulating Individual Educational Plans with specific objectives to much simpler planning through a membership in Home Life Academy. All of this is unnecessary in our state, however I have always felt regardless of requirements of the state or country one is in, there should be accountability. I chose HLA as it is inexpensive and I used it for records, grade reporting and transcripts should I send a child on to school. What I do like about it is they allow for enormous flexibility in individual choice of curriculum and their transcripts were well accepted when transferred my son to high school.

So, here is a glimpse of how we simplified our year. This tweaking normally does not occur until winter hits full force. I think it may be quite a winter!

Math U See (can’t wait for Teaching Textbooks gr. 4 to come out)
Primary Language Lessons
Institute of Excellence in Writing
Copy work for Penmanship
The Harp and Laurel Wreath
Story of the World, vol 3, book basket/activities
Lyrical Life Science, vol 1-2, Nature Journal
Big IQ Kids
Mindbenders Logic A1

Teaching Textbook Math 7
Easy Grammar Red/Daily Grams
Natural Speller 7 and personalized list
Institute of Excellence in Writing
Literature Guides (various guides/own study)
English from the Roots Up
SOS State History
Story of the World, vol 3/Kingfisher History Encyclopedia
Lyrical Life Science, vol 1-2, Nature Journal, Labs-Biology for Every Kid
Mindbenders Logic A3

I currently have the girls together for most history, science, art and music subjects and adjust assignments to their individual levels for ease of teaching and down right putting out fires of jealousy in one another. So dd3 is piggy-backing on some subjects however takes a lot in without being pressured. She recently began our Greek/Latin root study during dd7's review period and now is up to speed with making her own deck of cards. The youngest is learning harp, while the oldest is promising to review her piano skills in order to prepare for guitar lessons. We study one composer per month and try to coordinate that into our history time period. We were doing the same with art appreciation, but it became cumbersome with our curriculum, so we just changed to Meeting the Masters and utilize the prints after study for a keepsake album of art. We continue to do poetry purely due to our enjoyment and utilize The Harp and Laurel Wreath as a spine. They each love to memorize poetry and I allow dd3 to choose from the Grammar stage section and dd7 from either the Grammar or Dialectic at this time. Other times they tell me exactly what they desire out of our collection and I let them follow their own path as I do in other subjects periodically. So basically I must confess our philosophy of education at this time is eclectic. We are in a survival mode as it is not the complete vision of what I strive for but learning is occurring daily and we are still in the game.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Slow in a Fast Paced World

Almost two decades ago now, a very special physical therapist imparted some words to me that I’ve not forgotten. In his strong, booming voice he’d repeat, "Listen to your body baby!" Those were wise words from a man with a kind heart and a great sense of humor. He had a way of invoking laughter in a room filled with all sorts of pain. Here I am today, still reading my body’s symptoms like a book and readjusting life, my pace, and my world as I go along. I’m reminded of Tony and also my daughter’s favorite Aesop fable "The Tortoise and the Hare," with it’s moral: "Slow and Steady wins the race."

I feel like that tortoise step by step as I try to plod along and I have found I don’t need to win the race so much as just get through it in a manner that would be pleasing to God. I’m not the same person in a lot of ways, as I can’t be the same wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt or friend. Frustration rears it’s ugly head as I long to be relationally consistent. I can’t go back to who I was; I am not there but I am here in the present with the Light to guide my way.

I no longer feel that I am missing out too much, but rather find I oddly cannot relate to those who report about long shopping trips, frequent vacations, menus at restaurants and all those "normal" activities in life. For instance, I’ve been in a restaurant only once in the past 3 years and it was a disaster. Now I’m finding the joy in just the ability to eat slowly, swallow simple foods at home and when I hit on some I do not react to with allergy or intolerance it is an absolute delight. Spinach, folks, is an absolute delight, okay? So is creamy buckwheat, quinoa and veggie burgers are a huge bonus on a really good day. So much is unfamiliar that in some ways I must seem a stranger to those who carry on. I have to admit that there are times it is really lonely in a room full of people who do not play water, food and medication games all day long to control pain. I miss my spontaneous ways that used to bubble up inside me, but life does not stop here; it moves forward and so must I. So I must adjust to hearing about normal life and I hope if you are reading this you will understand I will get there in time so don't stop sharing your world with me--perhaps just tone down the descriptions of chocolate and fine wine!

Being slow in a fast paced world can be limiting but also gives the availability to open wide other avenues of experience. Ones that those fast lane movers may miss. I’m finding more of my desires in areas I never explored or just haven’t had the time to in years. I suddenly realize life is short and to my surprise I have some opinions on the way I’d like to spend it. I’ve kicked off my high heels for boots, levis, mineral makeup and thrown out the hair dye and fragrance. Life is simpler and more authentic. I’m enjoying textures and tastes on a heightened level, I am noticing the smallest fingerprints of God in the most surprising places that I overlooked before. He’s in that breeze in my hair, that glance out my window at my children when they don’t know I’m watching, that sunset over Mr.Jonston’s field that I affectionately call my own. He is in the change of the seasons that swells my heart and causes me to praise him and am filled with adoration to see the reflections of trees and light dance across the pond. I see His faithfulness to my family in the old photos I just began to be able to look at again. He is in my bills paid, that night sky that beckons me to my window and in that hand I reach over lightly to hold each night as I drift off to sleep. His provision is more evident to me.

So, I’m no longer that Hare and I’m on a journey of learning to let go, to throw off the frantic pace and unrealistic momentum so that I might just finish my given race in a manner worthy of the calling, the measure of truth bestowed unto me. I can’t pretend anymore to be someone I am not and that part is very new to me. Many a day needs in a family are so abundant I forget to pace myself, I strive to hard and then suddenly within me I know that it’s coming–that familiar welling up inside of me and I brim, I spill over with tears. Even in them I have to feel the wetness on my face and be grateful for it as I don’t generally have a sufficient supply of them due to my disease and a good cry without real tears is simply not as satisfying. These depths of emotions that come and go are deeper and serve as a reminder that I am quite alive each day and there is life beyond each diagnosis.

It’s a balancing act and many days I am aware of my failures, my pain. Then a new day dawns. My bedroom is illumined in sunlight and as I open my eyes up after a night full of tears, I can laugh again that I am really given another day. One more day to just be me; to be transformed, to breathe, and quiet my body, mind and soul and just reach my arms out as a child to the One who reminds me of the real moral to the story in this life. I take hold of what’s given, release the rest and run at my own pace.

".....let us run with endurance the race that is set before us."
Hebrews 12:1

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

Yes, my area is completely over run with deer.

No, we don't shoot them........