Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home all day.  Some comments were “how will the state know you are learning?”, “you just stay home all day”, “what do you do if you don’t take tests?”.  Oh my.  I told the girls they should use their Snapchat or Instagram stories to do a "day in the life" story and dispel the stereotype of the homeschooled teen.  

Random Acts of Kindness on our Not Back To School Day

Here is what our fall semester looks like now that we are a few weeks in and not much will change at this point:

We have Dave Ramsey’s Foundations of Finance for Grace.  Life of Fred Algebra for Lilah.  Geopolitics, Economics, How to Read Literature Like A Professor, CT Art Trail.  We have plans to visit Mark Twain’s home in Hartford, walk the Freedom Trail in Boston and visit Lexington and Concord.  There are guitar lessons, two bands, art lessons, and an introduction to CAD (computer assisted design).  We have youth group Tuesdays, middle school ministry Wednesdays, babysitting and dog sitting.  There is a retreat scheduled for October, a possible mission trip, and a full day conference for Dare 2 Share.  There are more senior pictures to take and birthday parties to attend.  We have tickets to the symphony in November.  Our week/life is very full.

Beach Clean Up on our Not Back To School Day

Eight years ago, I was the one being asked these questions.  Now it is time for the girls to have answers to these questions.  I always thought their lives spoke volumes about how we homeschool and yet, the same misconceptions persist.  How do you learn if you don’t test and don’t you just stay home all day.......

We learn by doing.  We learn by going.  We learn by experiencing.  We learn by trying.  We learn by failing and trying again.  We learn by sharing.   We don’t learn by studying.  We don’t learn by memorizing.  We don’t learn by regurgitating and forgetting.  We don’t learn by filling in tiny circles and choosing the best out of 4 answers.  We don’t learn by grades or scores.  We don’t learn through stress and anxiety.  We don’t learn through judgment.  We don’t learn through peer pressure and we don’t learn through ranking. 

Restocking the Little Free Library on our Not Back To School Day
In CT, the state does not get to decide if we are learning unless the parents have been accused of educational neglect in which case the burden falls upon the parent to prove that the children have received an equivalent education to their peers in public schools.  That has never been a worry for me.  I have records, and blog posts, and photo albums full of our learning.  I have journals bursting with their work.  I have two daughters that are kind, considerate, loving, full of faith and the desire to share it, hard working, intelligent, and becoming more and more independent with each passing year.  They are learning and growing and maturing and some days they experience this growth in the comfort of their home but most days they are learning, and growing, and maturing in the community in which we live.  

Spreading coins for kids to find on our Not Back To School Day

Saturday, September 2, 2017

CT Art Trail #8: The Hill-Stead Museum

Oh how I loved this museum!  I love that it was a beloved home and through a trust, was left untouched as a museum.  Nothing can be loaned out or brought in.  It is exactly how the family left it with the exception of necessary repairs and upkeep.  This museum reminded me of The Florence Griswold Museum, trip #3.  This home is filled with exceptional art including pieces by Monet, Manet, Degas and pottery dating back to times before Christ.

Photography inside is prohibited

The Hill-Stead is a colonial revival home modeled after Mt. Vernon and designed by Theodate Pope Riddle, the daughter of Alfred and Ada Pope.  Theodate was a non-traditional woman living in very traditional times.  She attended prestigious private schools, yet refused to participate in society.  She declined marriage to focus on her architecture career.  She married in her 40s but chose not to have children and instead took in foster children.  She designed schools and curriculum.  She was quite a remarkable woman.  

Author Henry James was a family friend.  He visited often and dined in the impressive dining room.  As we were touring, I pointed out to the kids that my literature class would include a Henry James piece, Daisy Miller.  Daisy Miller is a young woman, much like Theodate in that she was raised in a prominent family and traveled extensively.  However, unlike Theodate, she chose a very different path in society.  How cool is that?  If you read back through this blog, year after year, things like this happen, where life and learning overlap and I am reminded that our learning is so deep.

If you are ever traveling through Farmington, Connecticut, I would go out of my way to make this a stop.  It was wonderful.

Friday, September 1, 2017

CT Art Trail #7: The Mattatuck Museum

What I remember about this trip is not the museum, but the feeling that pushed me to plan this summer-long adventure.  I am tired of waiting for things to happen.  I am tired of saying that I will get to something only to never get to it.  My life is very full and I am busy no matter how hard I try to slow down.  Homeschooling the way we homeschool with two teens is busy.  However, I know that if I don’t put me into the mix somewhere I tend to feel lost.  So one day I made a list of all the things we want to do that we have not done and on my list was the art trail.  

The Mattatuck Museum is in downtown Waterbury, a city that reminds me of the city I grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts.  

I have been driving Interstate 84 through Waterbury since I was a teen and I have always noticed this huge stone church and wanted to see the inside.  Why do we not take the time to do the things we want to do, but we will bend over backwards to make sure we do things for others?  When we were leaving the museum, I took a “wrong” turn that led us right to the church and I told the girls I wanted to go in.  So we did.   Thirty years I have wanted to see this church and I promised myself I will not wait any longer to do the things I want to do.  I will just keep working through my list and adding to it as I think of more things to do and try and explore.  

The museum was also a nice little adventure.  I liked it more than the girls did.  I liked the street art, the Winslow Homer prints, the Wyeth  Portrait of Hope Elizabeth Robinson and noticed a new to me art form I have to research, the photogram.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

CT Art Trail #6: Yale Art Gallery

We have been to this museum many times but coming off our travels I chose to keep it simple and stick close to home.  Yale currently has two photography exhibitions that I thought would be inspirational: one on war and a social commentary on the development of New Haven.  Both were interesting for very different reasons.  

The girls brought their friend Erica along for this visit and it was fun to have her with us as she is also a photographer and did not mind how long I took exploring the pictures and photo books.

I do love this museum and every time I visit I am grateful that it is so close.  The only thing I dislike is that they have so many staff on each floor and they communicate via headsets so where ever you go, they go, and honestly, it gets annoying and a bit creepy.  I feel restricted and wish I could just look at the artwork and be alone with my thoughts.

Beauty Queens Conference

My friend Tanisha @ Empowering for Beauty Foundation created a conference for teen girls focused on the theme that beauty is more than how we look on the outside, it is who we are internally as well as internally and our value is determined by far more than our style, our makeup and our hair.  

She lined up a great panel of speakers who spoke to the girls on topics such as social media, self esteem, career goals, and interview skills.  She also had a panel of teens, including Grace, who spoke on topics such as clothes shaming, photography and social media, poise and confidence, and more.  

Grace worked during the weeks leading up to this event on the photography that was used in social media advertising and the photography used in a promotional video.  Again, she was able to combine her talent with ministry work.  

It was able her first public speaking engagement.  She was nervous and a bit underprepared since the conference was the day after she returned from Royal Family Camp.  She may not be aware but she is a wonderful public speaker.  Her tone of voice, her delivery, her confidence, her contagious smile, all are on display.  She did not speak long, just a few minutes, but what she said mattered and I was very, very proud of her.

*A cool moment that I don’t want to forget occurred after her talk when someone in the audience, a teen that lives in our town mentioned she too was on a trip to West Virginia this summer.  Grace asked her if she was part of the VBS team, and she was!  They were in the same Chic Fil A!  They traded numbers and I wonder if they will stay in touch....

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Printmaking Project

As a follow up to our day at the Printmaking Center, we met at a friend’s house for a good ol’fashioned craft project.  It brought back so many memories of when my girls were younger.  

Art Trail #5: Center for Contemporary Printmaking

Stop 5 on our Art Trail Adventure was a pleasant surprise.  I knew it was small so I called in advance to make sure they could accommodate our group size.  They had one exhibit, miniature prints covering various printmaking techniques submitted by artists from all over the world.  I thought we would be in an out in a half hour.  Silly me.  We were there almost 2 hours.

This turned out to be one of my favorite museums.  It is a little hidden gem on the grounds of Stepping Stones Museum and Lockwood Mathews Mansion (which sadly is closed on Tuesdays).  I have been by this museum so many times and never knew it was there because it is housed in what was once the carriage house of the mansion.

It is also a working museum with resident artists and visiting artists.  Paul, the Museum Director, gave us a lesson in the history of printmaking and showed us an exciting project he is working on, a modern adaptation of renaissance era satirical works.  This is why I love this summer adventure.  We never know what to expect from week to week.

Don't You Just Stay Home All Day?

It’s funny because last night at youth group some of the kids friends were discussing homeschooling and really truly felt that we stay home...